OBJ @ 85: AGE WITH GRACE, A FATHER FIGURE AND A NATIONALIST
By Attahiru Sifawa
It is not uncommon to hear an average Nigerian raining curse on political actors for what he beliefs is their role in the failure of Nigerian State which translates to his inability to attain his dreams and resultant miserable condition of life. Yet, both the nation and it’s citizens have a lot of success stories worthy of celebration. This is true of Former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
I am not writing this piece to assess the past administrations of OBJ, or exonerate him of blames or wrong doing. Political actors are throughout human history and civilization prone to missteps or wrong doings in their quest for, or bid to preserve, power.
It is noteworthy however to mention that OBJ is among the few surviving political leaders who believe in the unity and takes pride in the corporate existence of Nigeria as a sovereign nation.
My meeting with him early January, 2022 revealed lot of good things about him. But in this piece, I am fascinated by his depth of knowledge and experience, particularly about the history and political realities of Nigeria and it’s people. His Library project is not only a testimony to his thirst and quest for knowledge, but a clear pointer to priority legacy he chooses to bequeath.
His decision to shun active partisan politics, I choose to believe, is partly driven by nationalist sentiment. Same could be said of his open and unwavering support to PMB in 2015 the person he spent more than a decade fighting, against his political godson GEJ. That like many spectators, he saw lot of avoidable mistakes in the current administration of PMB, thus rising in stain criticism ahead of 2019 general elections, in the same manner he criticized and rejected GEJ ahead of 2015 general elections, not only exemplifies his socio-political behavior, but tell much about his fashion about the Nigeria project.
One very important virtue which OBJ uphold is his refusal to accept the false narratives about the political realities of modern Nigeria against the realities his life experiences taught him. No single individual hold solution to contemporary Nigeria’s problems. Yet, contemporary Nigerians, both the leaders and sundry citizens have lot to learn from him in our quest to understanding and overcoming the myriad of problems bedeviling Nigeria.
In addition to regular discourses in the Academic and public spaces, our electronic media, particularly the TV stations needs to be regularly engaging OBJ and his likes, with a view to drawing and disseminating knowledge practically acquired by life experiences not only to counter the false narratives which characterized media projection of Nigeria’s socio-political realities, but to enlighten the younger and upcoming generations. A nation which fails to learn from history is doomed to be repeating avoidable mistakes.
I saw in my brief interaction with OBJ a clear manifestation of what we call in Sokoto as ‘Dattijo’.
Continue to age with grace, a father-figure and a nationalist.
Attahiru Ahmad Sifawa,
Ph.D.Department of History,
Sokoto State University,