Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has described former president Olusegun Obasanjo as an opportunist.
He made the remark yesterday, when he unveiled the 8th book in his intervention series titled Quis custodiet Ipsos custodies: Gani’s unfinished business at Freedom Park, Lagos.
Soyinka alleged that he had been at the receiving end of allegations and noted there was no better time to check some of the issues raised in Olusegun Obasanjo’s The Watchman.
The latest addition, which contains a slew of Obasanjo’s misdeeds, comes off as an effort on the part of the veteran playwright to clear his conscience and set the records straight.
He said: “Obasanjo loaded Watchman with lies, and attempting to respond to all the lies will occupy the rest of your life, but a little slim volume of interventions is fair,” he said.
Soyinka decried how former justice minister, Bola Ige, was “made a joke” when Obasanjo said he (Ige) didn’t know his left and right during his tenure as Minister for Power.
“Obasanjo needs to apologise to Bola Ige for sabotaging his effort in the power sector, because Bola Ige asked him to remove one Suleiman Bello who was heading an agency in the ministry, whom he was using to sabotage his effort, but he didn’t,” he alleged. Soyinka also claimed that Obasanjo asked him to beg ex-vice president Atiku Abubakar, when he learnt that Atiku was sabotaging his second term ambition. He said amid laughter, “Obasanjo looked for me everywhere and asked my relatives to find me. Of course, I didn’t beg Atiku. When I met Atiku, I told him that Obasanjo knelt for him, and he (Atiku) will pay for it.”
Soyinka agreed that Obasanjo’s letter rubbishing President Mohammadu Buhari wasn’t in bad taste, for most of the facts he raised in the letter were genuine, things that Nigerians knew, and said there was need to reform the country. He however said what he didn’t like was Obasanjo being an opportunist. The one that is unacceptable is when somebody with a sordid past presents himself as a saviour. That’s supposed to be a letter bomb, but, it is a suicide bomb.”
Soyinka described Obasanjo as cunning, rather than clever ‘as he thinks’. He said the former president had formed the habit of reading the mood of the country and aligning himself with the yearnings of the masses, in keeping with his messianic fixation. He said he was incensed by the attempt by Obasanjo to hijack the struggle to reform Nigeria, which, according to him, the ex-president did in 2015 as well.
Femi Falana, one of the panelists was, however, cautious in embracing Obasanjo. “I think we do not celebrate opportunism; reading the mood of the nation and trying to hijack the movement,” Falana said. For Sam Omatseye, Obasanjo is a “charmed brute.” Commenting on the state of the nation, Soyinka was miffed that things are not going right at the moment in Nigeria, saying, “what with stupid acts by the Buhari regime, bloodshed, degrees of intolerance, failure to exert authority when due, which had led to escalation of violence in parts of the country; lack of value for human life, on a level that hadn’t been witnessed in Nigeria before, among others.”
The shortcoming, he said, would pave the way for the young generation of rulers to right the wrongs. However, he said, “Between now and 2019, an opportunity remains to reform the nation.”
The publication is a compilation of the lecture dedicated to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the death of Gani Fawehinmi (SAN) and serve as a reminder for concerned and patriotic Nigerians.