From Mugabe To OBJ: An Open Letter
Vanguard, Posted to the Web: Tuesday, July 26, 2005
My dear Comrade President Olusegun Obasanjo,
It has been a long time since we exchanged communications. The last time was when you intimated me that you were under pressure by the owners of the Commonwealth not to invite me to Abuja. Although I was disappointed, I was not the least perturbed. I shall return to that, but before I go further, I must congratulate you for your efforts on the problem in Darfur. Darfur must be very dear to your heart especially now that you seem to be missing in diplomatic issues in a region you were once an honorary “frontline” member. Since you discovered Europe and America, Comrade Mbeki has been filling the gap in most of Africa, from DRC to Cote d’Ivoire. I hear that South African wines are the most popular in your country now, and that virtually every habitable hotel in Nigeria is run by the South Africans. Certainly, your drive for foreign investment is yielding great fruits. That notwithstanding, it seems Europe has become the centerpiece of you foreign policy. I still remember with nostalgia the good old days of your man Garba, Joe Garba, yes!
My intention, really, was to congratulate you for securing a debt relief of $18 billion for your country. But after reading some of the reactions of your countrymen, especially the very informed argument in the 22 July edition of Thisday newspaper by Comrade Dr. Chu S.P Okongwu, I had a second thought. I met Comrade Okongwu many years ago when he was Finance Minister for Comrade brother Ibrahim Babangida (by the way, how is his campaign to take over from you going?). Comrade Okongwu is not a man you took his views on such matters lightly. I hope you consider his views and tell your countrymen the truth.
But comrade, what has really excited me is the news coming out of your country since last March when you unexpectedly turned 180 degrees from your known position on the matter of National Conference and inaugurated the National Political Reforms Conference. I must confess that my experts here were confused as to the purpose of the conference until it became clear from the activities of your foot soldiers at the Conference that it was to secure a Third Term for you. I queried my experts whether they got it right that you really want to shoehorn yourself into a Third Term. But when they showed me evidence last week that you had already infiltrated your National Assembly, I chuckled to myself. I say welcome to the party, Comrade. You can now appreciate how hurt I was that you, an African Chief, would buckle under the pressure of Whitehall to demonize me. I felt betrayed, Comrade, because there is nothing I have done that you have not done.
You and Whitehall accuse me of rigging all the elections I have won. Yet, for two years you were in Court where your electoral victory of 2003 was contested by your rival, Gen Buhari. Your countrymen widely believe that the 2003 election was grossly rigged. As it concerned the votes in your home state Ogun, the Court even agreed. Yet, you had the temerity to come here as an emissary of Whitehall to accuse me of now being democratic. Even last week, Comrade Wole Soyinka was in South Africa calling me names. All these notwithstanding, I must offer you a few tips. Don’t make the mistakes Babangida and Abacha made by pursuing such important agenda through the party. You must completely emasculate the party. Make it your private army. Punish any disloyalty. If anybody resists, declare a state of emergency. Here I keep reminding the veterans that I am the only person who can pursue the land reform. You must remind your people that you are the only living patriot who can guarantee the continued existence of your country. And remind the World Bank/IMF that you are the only one who can pursue the economic reforms. The mistake I made was that I jettisoned their economic package. So they joined my enemies!
But I am angry with your friends. They criticize me that I repress the opposition. Who is the opposition? Is it this Morgan stooge? Can’t you see that they have simply invented a new Ndabaningi Sithole and Abel Muzorewa! I remember how it shocked them when I suddenly emerged at the Lancaster House from the bush and claimed the marbles. It was their fault that they did not reckon with me. And Imagine that? I controlled the forces! Now they are throwing the books at me because I am not advancing their neo-colonialist agenda! They still think I am a Marxist and so they see red in everything I do. After all, is the opposition in your country, fairing better with all those political killings? They gripe to me about human rights, but what have they said to you about Odi, Zaki Biam and the Apo 6? They accuse me of abuse of rule of law. Imagine? But they say nothing about your ignoring the ruling of your Supreme Court! If I did that, they would probably dispatch you to Harare to counsel me on rule of law!
Look at the noise they are making about my slum clearance. Their media are feasting on that and calling me names. But how is that different from what you did in Abuja? Did you not demolish buildings in Abuja? Not even the protest of your National Assembly could stop you! If I left the slums they would have used that as evidence of poverty in my country and as further proof of my mismanagement of my country’s economy. Did these do-gooders ever think of the poor in my country when they imposed economic sanctions on my country? During rebel Ian Smith’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence, UDI, did this same people not argue that sanctions did not work? Did they not argue against sanctions against the apartheid government in South Africa?
What I can’t understand is why they keep propping you up as a better democrat than I am. The Chairman of the Board of Trustees of your party said a year ago that you will single handedly select your successor. Just last week also a very highly placed member of your party, who made a reputation for himself quite early in the sixties as an Able Seaman in the Navy, told the Sun newspaper that any aspirant not handpicked by you would be wasting his time, even if your party endorsed the person; even if Nigerians voted for the person. I ask you, Comrade, what type of democracy is that? What type of democracy is that when your henchmen say that there is no vacancy in Aso Rock come 2007? Even then, it seems now, that you are likely to be the lone candidate in 2007 in violation of the constitution under which you were elected and against your pretenses as the asiwaju of democracy in Africa.
Comrade, let me tell you the truth. I am very happy for your effort to change your constitution in order to run for a Third Term. And if you can pull it off Comrade, the Fourth and Fifth Terms will be easy. That is how President-for-life starts. My happiness is that they will not be savaging me alone. All this demonization is giving my wife migraine. She has lost so much weight. But look at your wife, Stella! If I can’t get a respite, at least they will ease off on me. I reckon that if you can pull it off, I will have a formidable company that will make them look the other way. That at least would be a dividend from the fact that you are our Baba of African Union, although I don’t give a shilling about your Commonwealth thing.
Tell Blair to stop trying. I will not return to the Commonwealth! I have already told him what to do with it. Greet the old lady for me. I think I like Charlie, I mean Prince Charles. We have quite a few things in common. That was why he was quite happy to see me at the Vatican during the funeral of Pope John Paul II. That was why he shook my hands warmly to the chagrin of those hypocrites in Whitehall. We both show those people what hypocrites they are. Was he not allowed to divorce Lady Diana? Has he not married Camilla, a divorcee? Did he not have a civil wedding? So all these fancy rules can be bent, just as they are likely to bend this Third Term thing for you. That is why I am writing you to remember me in your Third Term paradise! But make sure they are not targeting your external reserve and your excess crude savings in order to look the other way as you doctor your constitution for a Third Term.
Comrade, I congratulate you in advance.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005