The office of the leader of any group of people should command respect. Whether it is the office of the chairperson of Pepper Sellers Association of Isale Eko, the office of the chairman of Spare Parts Dealers Association of Onitsha or the office of the president of United Suya Sellers Association of Kafachan, it is expected that the person holding the office in trust should command a measure of respect from all because of the dignity attached to the office. And that person is not supposed to do anything that will subtract from the dignity of the office. That is why Harry Truman would write, after his term in office as the President of the United States of America , "I could never lend myself to any transaction, however respectable, that would commercialize on the prestige and dignity of the office of the presidency." That is in a place where the value of the presidency is recognised and upheld by those holding the office. The same cannot however be said of the Office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Today, it lies naked, stripped of all dignity and honour, because the incumbent has made a mockery of his position.

 My heart bled last week as I saw tear gas being thrown at President Olusegun Obasanjo and his supporters by hoodlums at the People's Democratic Party rally in Ibadan . Yes, the environment in which our very President was to address his people was saturated with the stuff meant for quelling riots or dispersing social miscreants. What was his response? "We will not be intimidated by theirÔÇŽ." It was later reported that the tear gas was seized from the police by the hoodlums and used onÔÇŽ.well, do not ask me, who was in the company of Lamidi Adedibu and others. And it was in the full view of the President's security personnel who could not do anything to stop the bad air from circulating. What was not reported is that those who threw the tear gas were angered by the presence of the President and his team in their neighbourhood. That is how bad things have got.

 At the end of it all, supporters of Governor Rashidi Ladoja were fingered for what should ordinarily be a heinous crime. Under normal circumstances, such an action should have been greeted with public outrage; but under the prevailing circumstances, it was a non-issue. One week later, nobody has raised his voice against it because we are all used to the President dragging himself and the office he occupies in the mud. The situation, indeed, is everything but normal. It is indeed a pathetic situation. The tear gas might not have been targeted at him, but I think the message was clear enough: the people were tired of Obasanjo and his political gatherings.

 In many ways, Obasanjo is the architect of the gruesome fate that has befallen him and the office he occupies. That the President of a country would elevate his party and personal interests above his country should be unheard of. But this is Nigeria where anything and everything is possible. If Obasanjo was attending to pressing national issues in Aso Rock on that fateful day, I doubt if any Nigerian would have the effrontery to throw anything at him.

 I have often wondered where else in the world an incumbent President would abandon state assignment to sell his anointed candidate to the electorate. And Obasanjo has done this consistently, not for one or two weeks, but for at least one month. Today, a few weeks to the elections, Nigerians have not as much as had the privilege of knowing what Umaru Musa Yar'Adua stands for. It is enough that he is representing Obasanjo or vice versa. And I am sure the President is smiling to the banks with the out-of-station allowances that have accrued to him over the period. It is not his business that the majority of Nigerians whom he is supposed to be leading or ruling over have been in total darkness for months. The few who have generators have so overworked them that it has become inhuman to expect that they will continue to work. Ideally, a state of emergency should have been declared on account of the no-power-supply situation Nigerians have witnessed these past months. But I guess we are used to the fact that the state of emergency over the entire land these past eight years have not yielded any positive result. So life goes on!

 The kind of friends Obasanjo is keeping or worshipping has not helped his image, to say the least. Tony Anenih, Ahmadu Ali, Lamidi Adedibu, Andy Uba, Chris UbaÔÇŽ. These are the people whose names invoke bad memories in the minds of Nigerians. Yet, Obasanjo has the uncanny record of having them all as his buddies. He specifically told his supporters at the rally in Ibadan , after he was teargased, that they should be careful how they corrected Adedibu in public because he is an elder and a politician of fifty years standing. So what has the length of time or number of years in politics got to do with it? What are the man's antecedents? What legacy is he leaving behind? What good examples has he set for others to follow? How has he affected his neighbourhood? When Nigerians think of or hear about Adedibu, what impression of him do they have? The problem is that Obasanjo has been lying down with dogs for too long; it is only natural that he gets up with fleas. The sad thing is that the office he occupies is suffering part of the consequence of his actions.

 It is absurd to have a President who curses as a pastime. If he is not cursing a reverend gentleman in Jos, he is shouting down a poor helpless woman in a military barracks in Ikeja. If he is not shouting down a poor helpless woman, he is cursing those who wish his anointed candidate dead. And he is supposed to be the father of all Nigerians, irrespective of their status or political leaning. As we look ahead to May 29, we must not lose sight of the fact that the dignity of our presidency will impact directly or indirectly, positively or negatively, on the dignity of all Nigerians wherever they may be. The task before us then is to choose wisely at the coming elections. We need someone with decorum and charisma enough to restore honour to the presidency. And nothing short of cleansing Aso Rock will do.


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Re: A Desecrated Presidency
ELAWALO posted on 03-15-2007, 16:26:17 PM
True said Sylvester .....
Even IBB had some dignity ...This OBJ man with his Egba mannerism is an embarrasment to the Yoruba's. No wonder he was tear gassed in Ibadan of all places !!
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