During a recent conference on youth employment in Dakar, Senegal, former President Olusegun Obasanjo shocked his audience by openly calling for a revolution in Nigeria.
Also, it will be recalled that the former President called Nigerians to come out en masse for a Nigerian type “Arab spring (revolution)” during a workshop on economic diversification and revenue generation in December 2011 at the June 12 Cultural Centre in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Obasanjo’s call was hinged on the prevailing high rate of youth unemployment, which he estimated to be about 72 per cent. If the audience in Dakar was shocked, then the residents of Warri in Delta State were utterly astonished when he commented on President Goodluck Jonathan’s handling of the crisis in the North.
Most Nigerians are unable to understand why and how a former President could incite the people to the path of revolution as a measure to check unemployment.
They become jittery when such comments come from a retired Army general of the calibre and stature of Obasanjo. His insistence on a revolution has become an unpalatable cliché that Nigerians must decipher.
Obasanjo’s statements are more unsettling because he has unrestrained access to Aso Rock to advise and even brief Jonathan on such issues relating to national security.
Also, he has the opportunity to meet Jonathan one-on-one during their monthly National Council of State meetings in Aso Rock. And so why does the former President rage and attempt to pull down what he has helped in building?
Like all human beings, the former President has his own shortcomings. The most prominent of these is his pay-back mentality for any request scorned or denied.
He believes so much in the myth that he is a superhero. As Nigeria’s patron saint, he believes that he is the best President this country ever had.
Today, Obasanjo’s call for a Nigerian type Arab Spring has revealed his short-sightedness.
The Arab Spring or Arab Uprising started in Tunisia on December 18, 2010 when a Tunisian unemployed graduate Mohamed Bouazizi set himself ablaze to protest police corruption and brutality.
The ensuing protest spread throughout Tunisia with increased violence. The result was that the then Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was forced to flee to Saudi Arabia on January 14, 2011.
The protests spread through North Africa and the Gulf States engulfing Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain and Syria. Echoes of the Arab Spring resounded in Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Djibouti, et cetera.
Today the dregs of the Arab Spring are yet to settle. President Hosni Mubarak was forced to flee on February 11, 2011. And till date, Egypt does not have a stable government as Tahrir Square has become a symbol of the peoples’ solidarity.
Even with the democratic election of President Mohammed Morsy of the Moslem Brotherhood, Egypt is as unstable as an ancient blackboard standing on three legs, with the hind leg broken off.
Obasanjo’s call for a revolution because of youth unemployment is misplaced. People like him should not pray for a revolution, not even for their children because revolutions are cataclysmic, destructive and unpredictable. The no-nonsense former President needs some tutorial on revolutions.
In his recent role as the moderator for Bishop Ayo Oritsejafor’s 40th anniversary on the pulpit, he lambasted President Goodluck Jonathan’s weak response to the Boko Haram crisis.
Obasanjo flaunted his genocidal and criminal demolition of Odi in Bayelsa State, where unidentified militants killed 19 soldiers. Some day, he will appear at the War Crime Tribunal at the Hague to answer for heinous crimes against the residents of Odi.
The former President speaks of unemployment, but he has forgotten that he laid a solid foundation for this by wasting $16bn on electricity generation without any impact on Nigeria’s electricity generation and distribution.
At the time he handed over to the late Umaru Yar’Adua, Nigeria’s electricity megawatts was a paltry 2000 for a population of 140 million people while South Africa boasts 50,0000 megawatts for its 45million people.
Industries started folding up and relocating to Ghana during Obasanjo’s government with hundreds of thousands of workers thrown into the unemployment market. He built a personal library in Abeokuta worth N7bn and coerced Nigeria’s richest businessmen, some of who are his business partners, to bank-roll the project which he cunningly named the Presidential Library Project.
What more can we mention now? Is it the pauperisation of Nigerians due to the increase in the price of commodity items like rice, sugar, cement, flour and noodles, which were licensed to only one man to import, or the quarterly increase in the price of petroleum products?
God save Nigeria.