At last, OBJ is getting it right
This is not the best of times in Nigeria; not with the spates of bombing, maiming, killings, armed robbery and kidnapping across the country. But an usual action was recently done before our very eyes by an unpredictable personality, and this should be commended by all Nigerians.
First I must confess that I am not an admirer of former President Olusegun Obasanjo; I see him as one leader who wasted the opportunities God granted him to put smiles on the faces of poor and defenceless Nigerians. His three years as a military ruler and eight years as a civilian president did not provide the leverage to assuage the pains and hardship that have become the lots of more than ninety percent of Nigerians. Though his supporters claimed he gave his best, many Nigerians like my humble self can't align with that assertion on him.
Obasanjo's recent mission of meeting stakeholders in Plateau state over the incessant crises in Jos and his visit to Maiduguri to plead with the immediate family of the late leader of the Boko Haram sect to sheathe their swords, have changed my perception on Chief Obasanjo, for now. These two acts by Obasanjo clearly shows the man, have leadership qualities afterward.
The cycle of violence in this country is alarming, yet our so called leaders both political and religious, sit at the comfort of their homes and offices, while pleading to the warring factions to embrace peace. On television, they are seen with sullen faces, giving the impression they felt the pains of the people. But the people who have embrace violence as a means to an end cannot see these leaders, as people who understand their anger since they refuse to meet them one on one, the violence remain unabated.
In the north, where boko haram sects are holding sway, virtually all the important political leaders have adopted ÔÇśsit down and look' posture, to save their investments and lives. They fear to openly condemn the activities of the sects or reprimand them in the strongest term. Many Nigerians would not forget how Babangida, Atiku and Adamu Ciroma, shamefully thrown away their self righteous nationalistic toga, when they fought dirty to retain presidency in the north during the 2011 presidential election. The trio told Nigerians that they were fighting for the interest of the north; who they felt have been short changed when President Jonathan declare his interest to continue in power. Well the rest is history; but the puzzle is, these same northern leaders who throw cautions to wind during the 2011 presidential election, in the name of the north, have suddenly gone silent as the dreaded boko haram sect unleash violence on defenceless northerners, they told us they were fighting for in 2011 presidential election. None of them have made any attempt to provide a platform where they can speak with members of this sect, in order to stop the bloodletting.
This same scenario can be seen in the eastern part of the country. Here, kidnapping and armed robbery incidents have driven honest and hardworking residents of that part of the country to self impose exile. Many investors and even indigenes are afraid to go there and invest for fear of losing their lives or becoming preys to kidnappers.
Their leaders in the south east, while claiming their love for their people will not stop shouting to high heavens, insisting they are politically marginalise in the country. These leaders like Ken Nnamani, Orji Kalu, Nwobodo and so on, in spite of their ÔÇśalloy' love for their people, have not deem it fit to move from community to community in the east and talk to the people on why they should expose their kith and kin who are involve in robbery and kidnapping. One would not be surprise if they are far away from the east as I write now. They are probably in Lagos or Abuja, enjoying relative safety, while their people are daily falling victims to rampaging robbers and kidnappers.
By criticising Obasanjo over his fence mending mission, Professor Wole Soyinka is only playing to the gallery. He cannot be criticising just for the sake of it; when a man does well I believe such person should be commended, regardless of any personal grudges. As an elder statesman himself, Nigerians expect Prof. Soyinka too to join others in proffering solutions to the security challenges facing the country at the moment. Apportioning blames is not what the country needs right now, everyone who matters in Nigeria should please be pragmatic in offering solutions; Professor Soyinka inclusive.
Leadership is not about personal comfort, is about finding happiness for the greater majority of the people. Every one can see the personal risk, Obj took by visiting these crisis prone areas. We all know how invisible Boko haram have become before our security network and how easy they carryout their nefarious activities. Most times catching our security personnel napping and unprepared. But Chief Obasanjo, obviously sacrificing his personal safety, took the risk to meet them right there at their stronghold ÔÇô Maiduguri.
Regardless of what former president Obasanjo, would have done in the past, this new initiative by him to bring peace in Jos, and his visit to the family of boko haram late leader should be applauded. The time for our political leaders to start acting like statesmen is now.
Religious and political leaders in the north should stop paying lip service to the crises destroy their region. Their people look up to them, to bring an end to the lingering Jos issue; and reaching a compromise with boko haram. They must meet directly with the aggrieved parties in the crises and find amicable solutions to their grievances. Calling president Goodluck names, and blaming the insurgence as product of his leadership style is only an admittance of their collective failure as leaders.
Equally, it will be to the benefit of these Igbo leaders if they help in restoring sanity in their land. No one will vote a person whose land is under the control of miscreants. Whether we like it or not, by personally visiting Jos and Maiduguri in search of peace, Obasanjo has set the pace; it's the turn of other political and religious leaders in our midst to join this ideal foray.
By Olurotimi Adeola