By Abimbola Ojenike
“Whatever outlook he takes on, it would be quite a surprise if Obasanjo, who is known to adopt a ‘Lannisterian’ vindictive posture to his adversaries in life as in politics, throws his diminished weight behind the President.”
Since the recent closed-door meeting between former President, Olusegun Obasanjo and his deemed political adversary, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, national leader of All Progressives Congress (APC), many have begun to wonder if this marks the start of a new adventure in the 2015 political maneuverings. Notwithstanding the remotest possibility of political convergence between the duo of Obasanjo and Tinubu, those who are nervous about the romance assume that it could be an all-important development in determining who wins election in Nigeria or at least the South West in the 2015 elections.
The People’s Democratic Party’s precipitous apology coming after the Tinubu-Obasanjo date shows that the PDP leadership may be losing sleep over the budding romance; but should it? What is the PDP apologizing for; and why has Obasanjo suddenly become deserving of apology? The PDP sought forgiveness without confessing its sins against Obasanjo but the issue in dispute was never lost between them. The best the public remembers is Obasanjo’s self-righteous open letter disapproving President Goodluck Jonathan as an incompetent leader and desperate politician who has failed to honour a supposed gentleman pact to step aside for a northern President by 2015.
Before the open letter; and even worse after President Jonathan’s unmeasured reprisal, Obasanjo had begun to lose the reins of the PDP to Mr. President’s cronies even in his own home state. A certain Kashamu Buruji, one of the cronies of Mr. President had taken over the party machinery in Ogun State with pervasive influence across Southwest PDP.
It is hard to guess from Obasanjo’s mien and dealings how he intends to bolster his political strength in the 2015 equation. His sense of role in national politics these days is unclear. He totters between evolving into a Mandela-type venerable statesman or remaining himself, meddling in politics with the griminess and inelegance with which it is played here. Whatever outlook he takes on, it would be quite a surprise if Obasanjo, who is known to adopt a Lannisterian vindictive posture to his adversaries in life as in politics, throws his diminished weight behind the President.
President Jonathan, wielding the incumbency power, had himself demystified and decimated the political influence that brought him into power but he needs whatever is left of that on his return bid. Jonathan’s need for Obasanjo has to be for what is beyond the soul of the South West. If it were for just that, actual poll results show that Obasanjo has never been a prophet respected in his own home anyway. But, he has some national appeal that could change things in some quarters where the President’s return bid has hit the brickwall. President Goodluck may be trying his luck to get some of the defected PDP Governors and Senators back. But is Obasanjo still fit to assist in the mission to rebuild the PDP?
Ultimately, political power or influence in Nigeria is surmised by two dynamics: what and who does he control? Obasanjo is no doubt a man of means, speaking in euphemism, but he is not one to bankroll the political ambition of anyone. That is not even the sort of support a Jonathan-presidency desperately seeks. The second question, who does he control shows that he may have just a little more political might than the rest of the pack to which General Ibrahim Babangida belongs. Does Obasanjo control the PDP Governors that defected to APC? If he does, will they come back to the PDP and have the party structure delivered back to them? How will the Obasanjo-rebuilt PDP accommodate the interest of the Governors’ political rival who changed sides too when the Governors invaded the APC?
Many might think that Obasanjo has something up his sleeves but the stake is higher now. The unfolding events, regardless of where Obasanjo eventually pitches his tent, will show that his political strength might have been overrated, perhaps like Ibrahim Babangida who was for a long time speciously styled the evil genius. Political development in the past few years have undoubtedly demonstrated that he does not have the political wizardry or clout to justify the undue fame and attention he enjoyed from Nigerians.
In the final sense, the relevance of men of yesteryears is a delusion in the mind of a people that fail to acknowledge their own powers and lack the courage to pursue their common destiny or bring about revolutionary change by their own force. Unthinkingly, men like Obasanjo have been sculpted into a pantheon of sorts. In a debauched political culture where babarism plays a major role, it is correct to presume that Obasanjo has significant political influence but whether that, in itself, translates into any real traction or a sufficiently mighty current to coast any party to victory in 2015 remains to be seen.
Abimbola Ojenike is a prolific writer and a regular contributor in newspapers and in other local and international magazines. He writes exclusively for BREAKING TIMES every Sunday in the column, Game of Thrones. He can be followed on Twitter at @beambini.
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