On Thursday, former President Olusegun Obasanjo endorsed his former Vice, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) for president, the same man he had sworn never to support in any way for political office, much less the country’s top job.
Recall that Obasanjo had spent the better part of a decade calling Atiku all sorts of names in public and haranguing the man at every opportunity. Even Atiku needs a breather from relentless name calling.
Obasanjo practically invoked God’s fury on himself because of Atiku.
Two months later, the same Obasanjo now regards Atiku as the best candidate for the job. “From what I personally know of you, you have capacity to perform better than the incumbent. You surely understand the economy better; you have business experience, which can make your administration business-friendly and boost the economy and provide jobs”, Obasanjo was quoted to have told Atiku.
But the question remains: what will make Obasanjo change his mind about Atiku in just 8 weeks? The answer isn’t far-fetched. Obasanjo, who spent all of January calling Buhari incompetent and a failure, is now in a position where he has to choose between Atiku and Buhari.
What Obasanjo has just done is hedge his bet with a perennial enemy as opposed to a fresh enemy. The man can’t see himself backing Buhari who he keeps insulting at every opportunity lately.
Obasanjo’s endorsement of Atiku is neither altruistic nor patriotic. It is a self-serving piece of political showmanship that shouldn’t be taken seriously by anyone who understands the politics of this great country called Nigeria.
This is about Obasanjo still fancying himself a kingmaker in the nation’s political landscape even though he’s lost relevance a long time ago. This is Obasanjo doing the bidding of his fellow kingmakers–those privileged old men who have arrogated to themselves the power to decide Nigeria’s leaders.
By most parameters, Buhari has impressed only but a few and deserves no endorsement from Obasanjo in the grand scheme of things.
Nigeria still ranks as one of the most corrupt nations on earth, economic growth has been sluggish if not static, poverty and jobless numbers make for depressing reading, herdsmen and Boko Haram are still on a rampage and not a lot has been done to fix Nigeria’s decrepit infrastructure on Buhari’s watch.
However, every other presidential candidate in this race—including Madam Obiageli Ezekwesili, Mr. Donald Duke, Prof Kingsley Moghalu and Fela Durotoye—should be seen as credible alternatives by Nigerians at this point.
Nigerians should therefore look beyond Obasanjo’s endorsement and make this race about what’s best for them, given the array of other credible alternatives on the ballot. Obasanjo has long lost his political clout and value. His word on politics ceased being law back when he made a habit of surrendering his polling unit as a PDP chieftain.
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