The political history of Nigeria would be incomplete, if the name, Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo is omitted; this son of Otta village, who was born on the 5th day of March 1937; some sixty-nine (69) years ago in Abeokuta Ogun state, is indeed among the luckier of the luckiest Nigerians, but somehow a ‘star-crossed’ president, Nigeria got so far. He came to power twice, impromptu; after the sudden and unexpected death of a previous Head Of State, on 13th February 1976, when General Murtala lost his life in a botched bloody military coup d'état, and in 1999, when Gen. Abacha sudden death on 8th June 1998 paved the way for democracy in Nigeria.
If current trends in Nigeria as they are now, especially in the economy, politics and the much celebrated anti corruption war; continue unchanged, the post Obasanjo Nigerian polity would be interesting to ordinary Nigerians; a banana peels to president Obasanjo, and a painstaking moment to Nigeria’s next president if it happens that our next president is a true democrat, but if it happens that our next president is a pseudo- democrat; he or she will stuck on to the current scenarios: arbitrary use of state machinery and resources, selective execution of the anti corruption war, lordly use of power and those in authority closing their eyes to due process, principles of true federalism, and accommodation of opposing views especially when situations does not favor them.
Taking into account what had happened in many countries after a change of regime despite the fact, that retiring presidents tried as much as they could, and installed a surrogate as their successor, but in the long-run, things didn’t went as they expected it – for example: late Ahmadu Ahijo of Cameroun Republic did much to influenced the materialization of Paul Biya as Cameroun’s president , but in the end, Ahijo had to flee into exile, until today, Ahijo’s corpse is still in exile in Saudi Arabia, Fredrick Chiluba circumvented due-process to facilitate the emergence of his political ally Levy Mwanawasa to become the president of Zambia, but Chiluba didn’t escaped trial on corruption charges ; president Obasanjo himself is an example, all those that worked to see his emergence as president of Nigeria are today in worlds-apart with the president, from IBB, Atiku, the founding members of the PDP, so in view of such cases, post Obasanjo Nigeria would not only be a catch-22 situation to organs like EFCC, PDP, and some politicians but to president Obasanjo himself, regardless of who become the next president of Nigeria; though if our next president is a make-believe democrat, this entails that, ordinary Nigerian would witness more of what is currently happening in Nigeria, where ups are downs, and wrongs are rights; political power would be the greatest ‘smoke gun’ to be used by the ruling class to achieved anything they wish, where their armories would be two very poles apart matters, anti-corruption war and state resources.
The economic and financial crime commission (EFCC) is the best thing that had happened in the present Nigeria, but it is regrettable to see the organ turning completely into an instrument of crushing, blackmailing and down-grading perceived political opponents of those in authority, the post Obasanjo Nigeria would a very difficult moment for the EFCC regardless of the type of president Nigeria would have; if our next president is a complete democrat, the EFFC would be constraint to swallow its ‘vomits’, because the commission would be compel to respect due process and rule of law, thus, those that the commission painted as Saints during the Obasanjo tenure, the commission have to repaint them. The most interesting thing that would happen to the EFFC would be if our next president happens to be a make-believe democrat; in this case, the commission would finally turn into an instrument of politicking by those in authority; and it is unfortunate to note that, Obasanjo administration’s anti-corruption war has gradually been reduced to politics, and it would be a Herculean task to prevent undemocratic politicians from doing same; for the reason that, when such people are confronted on this, their simple reaction would be: “even during the regime of ‘Father Of Modern Nigeria’ these are the complains”. And with current world politics, the support of international community would be easily obtain; once a government pledge to be an ally, then and a blind eye will be cast on their illegalities at home.
The next Nigerian president will certainly inherit a presidency that is demeaned in the eyes of the public, but a presidency that possess utmost political clout; an office that can direct, matched-on and punish anybody without any apprehension, and when the president is with you, you can do and undo - it was widely reported recently that a serving minister in the Obasanjo government brazenly challenged a sitting vice president of Nigeria; although this is part of the consequence of president Obasanjo overbearing ruling style.
Nigerians will not cherish a president that would preoccupied his management of Nigeria’s affairs in dealing with events of the past rather than putting down plans for future growth of the nation, but Nigeria’s next president have to face the challenges of a nation with large population but less productivity, where Unemployment remains desperately high, and agricultural sector has been decimated over the years, and estimated 70% of Nigerians live below the United Nations-defined poverty line, our next president have to look for a way to reformed obasanjo’s voluminous orthodox reforms programmes that is crammed with relabeled, renamed and a re-produced of the usual international financial agencies economic pills imposed on African nations; which are at pole-apart with needs of ordinary masses.
While by mid-day of 29th May 2007, president Obasanjo will be on his way to meet his chickens and pigs at his Otta farm, Nigeria’s next government will be face with a demeaned political position at all levels of government, conflict between the interest of state and that of a regime, a limping advancement to a prosperous, peaceful, just, democratic, valued and multi- dimensional secular nation.
Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta , Nigeria