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Now That Obasanjo Has Spoken up on The Economy

Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo

By Kayode Ojo

In recent times, little else has stirred heated debate in the country like former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s open letter to President Goodluck Jonathan. While there are several aspects to Obasanjo’s ‘letter bomb’ that better informed and more cerebral reviewers than this writer have analysed, what is of major concern here is the former president’s statement that, “on the economy generally, it suffices to say that we could do better than we are doing.”

Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo

Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo

Without equivocation, that statement is a fact that one readily agrees with. As far back as primary school, this writer recalls that teachers hardly ever awarded 100 percent marks to any pupil, no matter how brilliant. And their reason was always that one can always do better. This then is an obvious truth of life that everyone is familiar with: no matter how well you do in any field of endeavour, you can always do better.

Taken in this light, Obasanjo possibly meant well when he re-echoed the time-honoured principle aimed at urging President Jonathan to do better than he is doing in the economic sector. However, a couple of paragraphs down the line in his letter, Obasanjo dropped all pretence of meaning well and levelled an allegation of theft, or complicity in theft, at the Jonathan administration with regards to the sale of the nation’s crude oil.

It was unfortunate enough that the former president made such a serious charge without offering any verifiable proof; he deepened the malice in his accusation by declaring: “The letter of Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria to you on non-remittance to Central Bank buttressed the allegation.” Clearly, Obasanjo was referring to the CBN governor’s recent letter to Jonathan in which the theft of $49.8bn from the sale of the nation’s crude oil was insinuated.

As of the time that this writer sat down to put together this article, the CBN governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, had come forward to admit that his $49.8bn missing oil money charge was a mistake. He even tried to revise the purportedly missing amount to $12bn. But considering that at the press conference where the CBN governor admitted his error he looked completely humbled and disoriented, no discerning Nigerian can be expected to take any new thing that the CBN governor says at face value.

Arising from this turn of events, Obasanjo ought to tender a public apology to President Jonathan for relying on reckless and unverified information to vilify the nation’s Commander-in-Chief. Indeed, this writer can safely surmise that, considering the former president’s well-known vitriolic and unforgiving disposition, if he had been at the receiving end of the charge that he had levelled at Jonathan, Obasanjo would have reacted by spewing unprintable names or worse.

Moreover, while no one has any right to question Obasanjo’s right as an elder statesman to speak up on any issue of national importance that takes his fancy, it stands to reason that he himself should be willing to give account of his stewardship if he is to have the moral high ground to call the performance of the incumbent president into question.

In essence, now that Obasanjo has spoken up on the present state of the nation’s economy, it is only fair to ask what sort of economic legacy he left behind after eight years as president. After all, if the economy is not doing as well as it should, it simply cannot be true or fair to insinuate that the poor performance of the economy began on the very day Jonathan took office. While the buck now stops at Jonathan’s table, equity demands that we uncover where the rot began.

To be clear, this is not a case of leaving the message to query the messenger as no Nigerian can ever accept that Obasanjo is a messenger in any capacity.  As one analyst observed while commenting on the Obasanjo ‘letter bomb’, Obasanjo himself is the message.  This writer could not agree more, for indeed, Obasanjo in his deeds, utterances, and entire existence is a holistic message that would continue to be examined in great detail by virtually all discerning Nigerians now and well into the future.

In this light, it is only fair to ask certain pertinent questions, with specific regards to the economy, which Obasanjo is now posturing to be so concerned about.  How did the nation’s economy fair under Obasanjo for eight years? Was he able to unbundle NEPA/PHCN, something that Jonathan achieved in two years?  Was he able to stop the racketeering of fertiliser distribution that plagued the agro-economic sector throughout his eight-year administration, a scam that Jonathan has effectively ended? These are just a few of the many questions stirred by Obasanjo’s foray into the nation’s present economy.

Kayode Ojo sent this piece via Kayodeojo64@yahoo.com

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