By Eric Elezuo
March 5, 2017 marks the 80th year of one of Nigeria’s most influential leaders, Chief Matthew Aremu Okikiola Obasanjo.
For many, the intelligent Military tactician, who was the first to lead Nigeria as both a Military head of state and as a civilian President, has had everything running smoothly for him as he testified: “I made everything in life by accident”.
Much as a lot has been said about the Balogun of Owo, it is basically imperative that a little regret and come backs of the great statesman be reviewed to mark his 80th birthday.
In the first place, apart from all that had happened to him by accident, the ex-president sincerely desired to be the United Nations’ Secretary General when it was decided that Africa should take a shot at the world’s number one position. Obasanjo’s ambition were truncated by forces he could not control, and this is one era in his life he would live to regret because it is his dream unfulfilled. He variously blamed Nigeria’s own Nobel Laurette for ‘writing me down’ thereby denying him the opportunity to secure that desired ambition.
Again, it is known that providence brought Chief Obasanjo to the Presidency, and sustained him there in 2003 against all odds. However, when the man popularly known as Baba Iyabo schemed to work his to a third term reign against constitutional provision. He was tactically cut to size by all an sundry, and his dreams of becoming a third term president in the guise of many African leaders bounced off the wall.
Chief Obasanjo has also suffered the unfulfilled dream of living with a wife he loves so much till old age. In 1987, his second wife, Lynda, was ordered out of her car by armed men, and was fatally shot for failing to move quickly. And again on October 23, 2005, he lost his wife, Stella, a day after she had an abdominoplasty in Spain.
Those and many more, Chief Obasanjo had taken decisions which others consider harsh and arbitrary, but went ahead to see it carried out.
One of such is deciding to grant asylum to the deposed Liberian President, Charles Taylor, something generality of Nigerians frowned at and most African heads could not do.
Again, on June 12, 2006, he signed the Greentree Agreement with Cameroonian President Paul Biya, which formally put an end to the Bakassi peninsula border dispute.
Even though, the Nigerian Senate passed a resolution declaring that the withdrawal of Nigerian troops from the Bakassi Peninsula was illegal, Obasanjo gave the order for it to continue as planned.
In 2014, he publicly tore his Peoples Democratic Party member card, saying he is no longer a member of the political party that made him president.
Obasanjo has been a man to reckon with, and many come to him for direction, irrespective of their thoughts against him.
Happy birthday sir, and congratulations!