48 Laws Of Power… Law 11

Law 11:  Learn To Keep People Dependent On You.

Law 11: To maintain your independence you must always be needed and wanted. The more you are relied on, the more freedom you have. Make people depend on you for their happiness and prosperity and you have nothing to fear. Never teach them enough so that they can do without you.

Olusegun Obasanjo can be said to be unknown to nobody, the former president who ruled Nigeria for 8years is sure still influential in the country most especially among the Nigerian governing bodies. The ex president who has a lot of connection and relationship with almost any governing body all over Nigeria and probably beyond, is very well a powerful personality. He’s been said to have participated in President Goodluck’s defeat in the 2015 elections and also contributed to president Buhari’s victory with his political influence. As of 2015, its been revealed Obasanjo has a deep relationship with the incubent president Buhari as they’ve together many times sort out issues privately and publicly.

Olusegun Obasanjo is one of the most influential Nigerians alive or dead. As a soldier, a dictator, a national leader and a permanent actor in our political process, Obasanjo is an important part of Nigeria’s post-independence historical trajectory. His role through it all has been quite dramatic, often akin to a fiction more than reality. Within his constituency of sycophants, he was once touted as the “founder” of modern Nigeria, especially during the orchestrated campaign for his self-succession in 2007. But let the truth be said, irrespective where we locate the generis of “modern Nigeria”, Obasanjo has been a crucial actor in shaping Nigeria’s fortune or misfortune. If modern Nigeria as it stands today is an enviable polity, Obasanjo has a legitimate entitlement to the credit. If it is not; he sure has a good measure of ownership for the rot. And it is not.

After successfully handing over power to President Shehu Shagari in 1979, Obasanjo, the dictator became Obasanjo the international statesman. His voluntary relinquishing of power as a military dictator to a democratic order seduced the world. As a good opportunist, Obasanjo capitalized on that goodwill, and worked hard to embellish and polish his image. He became a sought-after international statesman and troubleshooter across Africa and the globe. He still is. The highpoint of his profile as an international statesman was his desire to become the Secretary General of the United Nations. The prospect of Obasanjo being world’s number one diplomat had many holding their breath. For a guy with undisguised hatred for the media and a known short fuse, the stakes could not be higher. Fate, however, could not send Obasanjo to New York. It is hard to conjecture what could have been.

But Obasanjo remained engaged in Nigeria’s political life, from Shagari’s presidency to Buhari-Idiagbon and Babangida dictatorships. He was one to scold Babangida with the famous remark that SAP must have a human face. He always had direct access and influence within the corridors of power. His running with Abacha made him the guest of the hangman. In part, that experience transformed Obasanjo into a philosopher and theologian of sorts, as glimpsed from his treatise, This Animal Called Man (1998). But like the biblical Joseph, Obasanjo left the prison for the palace in 1999 this time as Nigeria’s democratically elected president. Some argue that the electorate did not have much to do with that transition. They merely stamped a fait accompli plotted by Obasanjo’s retired military comrades: Abdulsalam Abubakar, Ibrahim Babangida, Theophilus Danjuma and others.

Obasanjo’s second coming was an unprecedented development. When the agitation for revalidation of the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election won by MKO Abiola needed a boost, Obasanjo added a chill. He told us that Abiola was not the messiah we needed. Yet Obasanjo became the greatest beneficiary of Nigeria’s democratic struggle as symbolized in Abiola’s selfless sacrifice. Instead of making June 12 our democracy day, he chose May 29, the day he ascended into power and preferred to not recognize Abiola’s legacy. The exceptionally lucky Obasanjo spent the maximum of his democratic mandate: two terms of eight years allowed under the constitution. Within that period, he restructured Nigeria’s politically addicted military. He presided over the selling off or transfers of Nigeria’s huge pubic assets under the corruption-ridden privatization process. Despite huge funds dedicated to the power sector, the country remained in the dark. Impunity reigned supreme, as an elected governor of Anambra state was kidnaped by Obasanjo acolytes, those Achebe called renegades. Obasanjo signed off on the military decimation of Oddi community in Bayelsa State. Sharia law was introduced in different parts of the country but Obasanjo ignored the option of a constitutional challenge, a development that has since partly emboldened Islamic fundamentalism in the country. Nigeria lost a chunk of its territory to Cameroon when it could have eschewed subjecting itself to the international court of justice. Election and electioneering were declared do-or-die affairs. Executive legislative relationship was toxic. The presidency was a theatre of in-fighting between Obasanjo and Abubakar his Vice President. Then, the campaign for Obasanjo’s third term preoccupied the business of governance. After its abortion, the whole drama culminated in a hurried recruitment of Umaru Ya’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan, an unlikely pair onto the presidency.

Obasanjo would have us all believe that he could be exonerated from the current state of affairs in Nigeria. That is exceptionalism! Like two different individuals with radically different backgrounds, clearly Obasanjo and Jonathan have run two different presidencies. But given Obasanjo’s role in the making of the Jonathan presidency, his membership of the ruling party, he could have vicarious exposure for the failure or success of the Jonathan administration. Deflating some of the low ends of his presidency, even known disagreements within his immediate family into his relationship with the current presidency is suspect, if not disingenuous. Certain things are left for self-vindication or inevitable vilification as the case may be. The truth cannot be caged as it needs no management.

Obasanjo is in deed and in truth the personification of Nigeria in its inherent contradictions. His patriotism and sacrifice for this country is hardly in doubt. Those who have worked under him know how passionate he is about Nigeria. He is a very hardworking man, one open-minded to recruit talented Nigerians to national service. Not many can keep pace with his work ethic. But yet he launched his presidential library while he was a sitting president and ignored the ethical imperative. He gave the anti-corruption drive a boost. Neither Yar’Adua nor Jonathan presidencies since came close to Obasanjo’s record on that front; notwithstanding that he was accused of using his government’s anti-corruption agency to harass his political opponents.

Like most mortals, Obasanjo is self-evidently a deeply flawed man in many vulnerable departments as can be glimpsed from Oluremi Obasanjo’s Bitter-sweet (2008). He was a polygamist before he was monogamist. He is a high chief, the Balogun of Owu, and he is a born-again Christian, a Baptist, wedded to a Catholic. He is a loving father, with both devout and errant offspring — biologically and politically; a military man who rose through the ranks but developed and pursued unquenchable intellectual thirst. But he has little, if any commitment to democracy. He does not have strong political followership or constituency, yet he had always secured the ultimate political prize.

Like all leaders, Obasanjo will not escape the verdict of history.



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