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‘Understanding Obasanjo’s Parrotism’

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By Okanga Agila

A Korean proverb says, “ You will hate a beautiful song, if you sing it often.” And that’s why the bird, parrot has no existential value even among the family of birds. It is a meaninglessly talkative bird. The Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), describes the parrot as a bird with excellent capacity to mimic “…and can copy sounds that they hear in their environment; they can even copy human words and laughter.”

That a parrot has the capacity to imitate human sound, does not confer on it the ability of prehensile. It does it more for fun as part of her nature. So, it is not controvertible that the parrot is disliked for its consistent and meaningless exhibition of the “gift” of squawking almost minutely. Its mimicking of the human sound is neither a message discernible to itself nor to other birds in its vicinity.

Apparently, the burden of the parrot is an exact replication of the moral plight of former Nigeria’s Military Head of State and democratic President for eight years, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (OBJ). At adult age, he has injected himself with the virus of incessant verbal public commentaries and open epistles on national issues directed at the incumbent leader of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari solely for self-appeasement.

Obasanjo who regales in the status of an elder statesman in Nigeria and Africa. But like the parrot bird, he merely imitates what great statesmen and leaders of other African countries do when out of power. It’s clear, he does it without necessarily understanding the trajectory the other leaders he blindly mimics have left as legacies in their respective countries. So, they are justified in morality and pride.

Unfortunately, OBJ only knows that former leaders of nations ought to be public commentators on affairs of their countries while out office, just like the parrot mimics human voice. But other leaders of African nations with such indulgence have records of legacies they can pinpoint for the generation today and posterity.

Unluckily, OBJ is devoid of such fondly memories in his years of shadows on the leadership podium of Nigeria, but copies them by parroting endlessly. And like the Ivorian proverb says; “He who talks continuously, talks nonsense,” OBJ is not only confronted with the dilemma of vomiting what many consider as nonsense, but indicts and ridicules himself each time he throws jibes and tirades at the Buhari Presidency.

The obsession of OBJ now is to disparage everything President Buhari has done to tame the tide of sponsored insecurity in the country. In his wonderland, OBJ feels contented to harshly scold President Buhari on Boko Haram, herdsmen killings, communal conflicts and other assorted criminalities besieging Nigeria. He fails to recognize any effort of government on security.

In all his vituperations against the Presidency, he has never preached the necessity of Nigerians to co-exist in love and peace; he has never taken his admonishments to the doorsteps of sponsors of violence and killings in the land, who are determinately pulling the strings of conflicts and disunity in killings. He doesn’t want to know the public voice of an elder statesman should embody such cautions, as against incitement.

The former President prefers not to remember that he laid and sustained the foundations for the widespread violence, killings, disenchantments and hopelessness’ in the land. The alterable truth is that OBJ is responsible and indeed, knows the hidden faces tormenting Nigeria because it started during his Presidency. But he never acted; rather he romanticized these crises entrepreneurs’ or actors and gave them every leverage to consolidate into the monsters of today.

Therefore, it is laughable when OBJ laments current killings and violence around the country and proceeds to colour it in very awful terms of inciting diction. But it was worse under his reign. This is not to say, any death of a Nigerian in an unlawful circumstance should be justified. But OBJ’s trumpets are resonating to loud on the side of sanctimoniousness over problems he created.

Entrenched insecurity in Nigeria had the blessings of OBJ as a serving President. This elder statesman has forgotten that the shameful failure of state security to secure the lives and property of Nigerians in the early days of his Presidency gave birth to illegal vigilante groups across Nigeria. The Bakassi Boys and the O’odua People’s Congress (OPC) and others, freely embarked on the task of securing their communities and carried out illegal detentions and extrajudicial killings. OBJ as President had all the powers, but could not do anything.

In the year 2000 alone, inter-communal conflicts were rife all over Nigeria. At least, 2,000 Nigerians were coldly murdered in the Kaduna riots of 2000. And in a single month, about 1,000 persons were killed in Jos in the month of September 2001, according to Human Rights Watch. What drastic measures adopted by OBJ to halt the killings and violence? There was no actionable anger from the Presidency and OBJ was as cold as impotent ash.

These ugly scenarios’ outlived his Presidency and flourished throughout the 16 years PDP government held power in Nigeria. Of course, the killings have not been obliterated completely. But if Jos has some measure of respite from the killings now, the relieve has come under the Buhari Presidency.

OBJ keeps parroting feebly and like a traditional adage says; “ A talkative bird will not build a nest.” So, he left these problems to fester into near irremovable stains because he was more interested in talking than action.

It is very sad that OBJ today wants Nigerians and the whole world to know President Buhari is the architect of Nigeria’s problems with resurgence of violence and killings. OBJ’s evil heart does not allow him the luxury of introspection on his previous outings.

In March 2010, OBJ told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview after about 200 persons lost their lives in violence near the city of Jos between Christian and Muslim communities that the eruption of violence had no religious connotations.

OBJ stated; “If you have one group or a community that has land that’s been encroached upon by another community or even by itinerant cattle farmers, then the people who lay claim to the land will fight back. If there are job opportunities in an area, and persons believe they are indigenous to that area, and (are) not getting enough out of the jobs that are available, they will fight those who are getting the jobs.”

Today, OBJ sermonizes in his latest open letter to President Buhari that “And Boko Haram will not go away on the basis of sticks alone, carrots must overweigh sticks. How else do you deal with issues such as only about 50% literacy in North-East with over 70% unemployment?”

Yet, this is a leader, who laid the template that dubiously sold all Nigeria’s national assets; from landed properties to companies, industries and so forth, which threw millions out of jobs. And all sold assets are performing at less than 10 percent. What convictions compelled him to dispose these national assets, if he ever knew unemployment was a problem in the country?

But he wants Buhari to solve the problem of insecurity through the “carrot approach,” by relaunching Nigeria on the track of industrial development or boom in just four years. What a hypocrite!

It is quite painful that OBJ had all the chances to right the wrongs of Nigeria right from independence to the time of his Presidency. But he abused every opportunity all so gleefully. What happened to the report submitted to him by the Justice Chukwudifo Oputa-chaired panel on Human Rights Violations Investigation Commission? He buried it so impishly.

But it was one Panel Nigerians embraced and hitherto very bitter enemies poured out their minds in public reconciliation. But OBJ confined the report to the trashcan, instead of implementing the recommendations that would have cemented the cracks and berthed durable peace among bickering peoples and communities in Nigeria.

If militancy heightened in the Niger Delta; or the unabated animosity, violence and killings’ in Southern Kaduna; the ongoing internecine killings between Jukun and Tiv communities in Taraba state or elsewhere in the Middle Belt; the violent eruptions on the Plateau between Berom and Hausa/Fulani ethnicities and even the herders/farmers conflicts are an off-shoot of Obasanjo’s negligence as President of Nigeria. He is challenged to publicly prove otherwise.

Was OBJ able to address or bring justice or succor to victims of the November 1999 massacres of civilians in Odi, Bayelsa state or in what ways was his administration able to assuage the pains of victims of the October 2001 military invasion of Zaki Biam and parts of Benue state? All committees he constituted himself on these extrajudicial killings submitted their reports to him. But he dumped them until his tenure expired. These reports, if implemented, rendered a very dependable platform for OBJ to manage Nigeria’s diversities and implant national unity and cohesion.

In a July 3, 2003 open letter to the then President Obasanjo, Ken Roth, the
Executive Director, Human Rights Watch lamented and pleaded on the Oputa Panel report thus;

“The Oputa Panel submitted its report to your government well over a year ago. We are disappointed to note that neither the report nor any plans to implement its recommendations have been published.…We urge you to ensure that that those responsible for ordering and carrying out the massacres in Benue and Odi, whatever their rank or position, are identified, charged and tried without delay.”

Furthermore, today OBJ howls about Boko Haram insurgency like a castrated bull. But it started under his watch and like the other security aberrations’ he consented, nurtured and permitted to gather enough muscles to now threaten Nigeria, he did nothing. Nigerians now bear the brunt and agony of his executive inactions as insurgency has consumed over 20, 000 Nigerians since 2009 when its operations peaked unchallenged.

No one is claiming there is no insecurity in Nigeria. Certainly, there is insecurity in Nigeria like every other part of the world. But is OBJ saying it has just occurred to him to care about Nigeria’s security? It smacks more of mockery and a feeble attempt to reinvent and purify his sadistic mind on Nigeria by tacitly prodding communities or individuals to violence and killings.

More Nigerians have been killed under his leadership than any natural disaster or leader that has ever administered Nigeria since 1960. If OBJ cannot atone for his sins; it is unpardonable for him to try to mock Nigerians or any leader.

Finally, OBJ should learn from the wisdom of this African proverb; “ Young people talk of what they are doing; old people, of what they have done, and fools of what they have a mind to do.”

Okanga, a traditional warrior wrote from Agila, Benue State.

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One thought on “‘Understanding Obasanjo’s Parrotism’

  1. Very pathetic article. The writer as far as I am concerned has joined the ranks of many commentators who pick up their pens with the sole aim of achieving little more than self glorification. Let him step forward and show us what role he has played in stemming the growing tide of insecurity across the land beyond unnecessary rants such as this. I still find it hard to believe that this long writeup is filled with nothing more than a run down of Obasanjo’s real or alleged failures. Nothing in the article is constructive; rather it only reflects the mindset of the writer as one filled with hate.. Nowhere in the article did he posit any solution to the current state of national security and for me, that is what makes his piece lacklustre and bereft of logic. The writer should tell us if Obansanjo’s recent open letter to President Buhari was out of place. He, (Obasanjo) is not known to be Nigeria’s first and only head of state nor is he the only one that has failed to live up to the expectations of Nigerians if that in itself is a fact. Where are the others? Where is Yakunu Gowon? Where is Ibrahim Babangida? Where is Abdulsalam Abubakar? Where are other celebrated Nigerian statesmen? Where was Buhari when Abacha unleashed the corecive machinery of state against the Nigerian people? To single out Obasanjo for summoning the courage to condemn the actions/inactions of the government of the day is at best a selective exercise that reeks of mischief.

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