On Tuesday the 21st, Yar'Adua told the Financial Times that he will not seek a probe of former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, AKA "OBJ" or "Baba". He apparently told the publication that to do so would be a waste of time and energy.
Now, I do not fault Yardy for his opinion. After all, like anyone else, he is allowed to have one. I can't even say that I disagree with his conclusion. As President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he probably has a bird's eye view of certain matters. Nevertheless, I can't help but notice that his statement might just not be as straight forward as it seems.
EVERYONE WANTS OBJ'S HEAD ON A SILVER PLATTER
Even a cursory glance at any Nigerian publication or website will show that OBJ's head is being demanded by Nigerians from all parts of the country. It appears that many citizens are frustrated with the lack of development that they expected when Nigeria returned to democracy. Some could also argue that there are others with old scores to settle with OBJ and that they are now working on evening the odds.
Whatever the case may be, it is clear that many citizens want the federal government to take a closer look at the former president and the dealings of his administration. All one need do is check out such headlines as the Daily Champion's "At Last! EFCC Probes Obasanjo" from March this year for verification. Or, the calls by the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria encouraging Yardy to be "brave" and "demand that a proper account be given for every government fund and policies[sic] by the past government." Or, the calls by the House of Representatives that OBJ appear for questioning in the power probe over his involvement in the failed power sector and dubious contracts that were given out.
AONDOAKAA DOES WHAT HE DOES BEST
So, while Yardy dismisses these calls as a waste of time, it is hard for me to believe that he truly holds that sentiment. Especially as his surrogate and Nigerian Curiosity Person of 2007, Michael Aondoakaa, publicly makes statements about OBJ's failures and the heavy handed tactics used in the former administration's 'fight' against corruption. For instance, Aondoakaa, recently called the OBJ administration a lawless one that encouraged anarchy by saying,
Aondoakaa further ratcheted up the anti-OBJ rhetoric by recently stating that Yardy's administration would not fail to prosecute anyone found guilty of corruption in the former administration and stressed that "nobody is above the law and so, anybody who runs foul of the law will not be spared, no matter how highly placed".
"You are not unaware of the lawlessness, if not outright anarchy that preceded the present administration.
The records of abuse of power through unlawful arrests and detentions, unjust and unwarranted impeachments that were upturned by the Supreme Court, flagrant disobedience of court orders and many other violation of the principles of the rule of law by individuals, corporate organisations and government agencies in the country's past, are still fresh in our memories."
Given the OBJ-chatter emanating from his own executive office, how can Yardy claim that he is not interested in wasting time or energy by probing OBJ?
MACHIAVELLI WOULD BE PROUD
Yardy may not be the source of the current anti-OBJ rhetoric that has now seemingly taken the nation by storm, but it is clear that he is the direct and immediate beneficiary. His 'win' in last year's elections were discredited by domestic and international organizations and many speculated that Baba himself handpicked Yardy as a replacement so that he could fulfill his alleged 'third-term' ambitions. Consequently, it is fair to assume that at the least, Yardy is using the current anti-OBJ atmosphere to separate himself from his predecessor and cement his administration's independence. Yar'Adua cannot openly attack OBJ, who is also the leader of his political party, the PDP, but he can instead allow individuals like Aondoakaa, who is the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, to do the talking for him. That way, he can tell the world that he will never investigate OBJ and actually mean it, because his surrogates and others will do the hard, dirty work for him.
This is an excellent way to extinguish one's opposition or in this case, a powerful predecessor. No matter what one might think of Yardy and his approach to running Nigeria, you can't dismiss his smarts. In all fairness, OBJ gave him and others room to attack by failing to leave office with a die-hard shield via tangible advances that the people could see and feel. Additionally, OBJ ineffectively managed his legacy and that gave many an opening to whittle away at what ever influence he has left. One cannot blame Yardy for taking advantage of such an opportunity, but I just wish that when it came to OBJ, he wouldn't talk through both sides of his mouth.
- Nigerian Legacy of Obasanjo