Senegal: Obasanjo Is Good For Wade And Bad For Senegal

Nigeria’s former two time ruler Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is an influential African politician and one of the most experienced. He has an enviable record as the first military ruler to voluntary hand over power to a democratically elected President in Africa. As a military ruler in Nigeria between 1976 and 1979, he saw to the end of a transition programme that had been started by his predecessor Gen. Murtala Ramat Mohammed who was killed in a military coup. Olusegun Obasanjo’s second coming in 1999 as a democratically elected President of Nigeria though was with fanfare and celebrations considering Nigeria’s long years of military rule, the man Obasanjo left the seat of government in 2007 with his erstwhile legacy shattered and the mystery around him altogether demystified. Like Senegal’s President Abdoulaye Wade,he wanted a third term!  


This is why the African Union and ECOWAS both thinking along the same line, by sending Chief Obasanjo to Senegal as a mediator in the country’s election brouhaha as a result of the president’s insistence on a third term would come with a rueful smile on the face of an average Nigerian. It is pitiable both for the West African sub-region and Africa as a continent that the best man to solve the third term challenge in Senegal was himself less than five years ago a third-termist. Believe it or not, as much as $300 million was dedicated to Obasanjo’s quest for a third term in Nigeria. It took the doggedness of a people, the uncharacteristic patriotism of the National Assembly and a relentless battle between the former President and his vice Atiku Abubakar to have Obasanjo where he truly belonged – outside of Aso Rock, Nigeria’s seat of power.


When Obasanjo meets with President Wade, he’d never in his sane mind tell the desperate ruler not to go ahead with his third term bid. If Obasanjo being who he is goes ahead to distort reality and says that much, Wade would not forget to remind the man that he had no moral rights to say such. On arrival in Senegal yesterday, Obasanjo said "this country is very beautiful, and nothing should be done to destroy it." That I believe is the farthest he can go to pass his message to Wade. He is not the man to counsel Wade  on the demerits of his macabre dance. His presence would though make much more sense if he was sent to Wade to tell him that seeking a third term in today’s Africa destroys every other legacy you had in the past. “Look at me, I sought a third term in Nigeria and today everybody only remembers that period of my thoughtlessness. Do you want to end up in shame as myself?” would be the kind of words you’d expect from Obasanjo to Wade but Obasanjo being who he is would not say that. He’d probably say something in the region of “Wade, look at me, I am celebrated all over the world because I did my two terms and willfully handed over. Don’t you want to be like me?”


My question is simple enough: Is Olusegun Obasanjo the best man to get Senegal’s rulers and oppressors to do the right thing? – a man who had to be forced out of office, a man who deliberately foisted a dying man on Nigerians, a man who ensured another man who knew next to nothing about virtually anything became Nigeria’s president, a man who said “elections are a do-or-die-affair” and ensured many Nigerians died during his re-election in 2003 and his orchestration of the elections of 2007 to get Umaru Yar’Adua into power – is that the best Africa could offer Senegal for a peace mission? Doesn’t this portray the African Union in its age old light of being an organisation of jokers, jesters and dictators?


Kofi Annan was not a perfect UN Secretary General but he would look like a perfect man given the Obasanjo choice to do the Senegal job. Even Thabo Mbeki would be a far better idea. You want peace in Senegal because the current President wants a third term and you sent a former Nigerian President who is best remembered for third term? Now, the AU and ECOWAS would wonder why no one ever takes them seriously. Abdoulaye Wade would see Obasanjo and he would naturally be encouraged to succeed where Olusegun Obasanjo failed; get a third term. That is what Senegal would fight to avoid and that is the quest one would expect the AU and ECOWAS to defend. Right now, Obasanjo in Senegal would in every way look like a pro-third term agenda. Ask any sensible Nigerian.

Obasanjo is not the right man for this job

Senegal needs the AU and ECOWAS to get more serious