A retired Nigerian Army general who was Presidentr of the most populous black nation from 1999 to 2007 was born on the 5th of March 1938 in the ancient city of Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital. The Balogun of Owu Lineage and the Ekerin Balogun of the Egba clan of Yorubaland was a career soldier before mounting the position of Nigeria’s head of state and as a military ruler he served twice from 13th February 1976 to 1st October 1979.
The south west political genius quest for power started as far back as 1958 when he enlisted in the Nigerian Army at the age of 21. Baba was fortunate to be trained in Aldershot, India (at the defence services staff college, wellington) and at the Indian Army school of Engineering. His quota cannot be underestimated during the civil war when he lead the Army’s 3 Marine Commando Division that took Owerri, operatively bringing an end to civil war. Obasanjo supported several military coup in Nigeria, including the one lead by Murtala Muhammed in July 1975. He narrowly escaped death in the military coup of 1976 led by Army Col. Dimka, but unfortunately, baba was incarcerated during the dictatorship of Sani Abacha (1993-1998), for speaking out against the human rights abuses of the regime. As fate will have it, Obasanjo was released from prison after the sudden death of Abacha on 8th June 1998 and became a democeatically elected president in 1999.
It is evident that Obasanjo is part of the process that gives birth to what we enjoy today as the government of the people, by the people and for the people. Since he lost bid for third term in office, Baba Iyabo became one of the cabals that dictates who become president in Nigeria. He stood as high as a palm oil tree both in Southwest and Nigeria politicking at large.
It is no news that he stood as a pillar for President GEJ to lean on in the 2011 presidential election, which gave him an edge over other contestants. Though, the “I have no shoes” campaign of GEJ buys him votes to some extent, but, we all know that the formation of the soccer game played in 2011 presidential election by PDP was planned and drafted by no other person than the Ebora Owu. But, when God is ready to answer our prayer in Nigeria, GEJ fumbled and wobbled from one disgraced act to another which made reconciliation practically impossible and he declared war of words on Baba, calling him names. General Obasanjo was so traumatized by the GEJ behavior and governance that he had to denounce his membership of PDP by tearing his card.
Without wasting time, Baba joined the Change train and immediately buried his personal differences with Bola Tinubu, and chat a way forward with this fearless king maker. What many did not know is that Baba over the years had been ruminating and cogitating about who to hand over the staff of power to in Southwest because time is not on his side any longer and the Yoruba nation needs a leader as fearless, courageous, patriotic, strategic thinker and risk taker as Baba himself . Tinubu proved beyond reasonable doubt that he is feet to step into the shoes of Obasanjo before things fall apart and the centre will no longer hold.
Obasanjo again displayed his political genius by sensing and feeling the legendary act displayed by Jagaban. The only way to respond to these political stimuli is to compensate him by supporting the APC candidate in the 2015 presidential election. Baba worked hand in hand with Tinubu to bring an end to the blood sucking reign of President Jonathan and in the same vein stylishly starts the power transition.
On the 28th of March 2015 history was made in Nigeria as the people’s General became the President elect through ballot and not bullet. Baba also played a positive role in being a part of this process that gave birth to a new democracy which makes the people will come to pass.
I always say and will confirm it again that Obasanjo is the best leader, president and politician that this nation ever witnessed. It must be echoed to the whole nation that Baba did not only sacrifice his PDP membership to bring change to Nigeria but at the same time he is sending a message to those that have eyes and use it to see that he has finally hand over the staff of power to the fearless Bola TInubu to give the Yoruba tribe a safe landing in Nigerian politics.
It is very cogent to state clear at this juncture that Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo is an accident of nature and a gift to humanity+. If you are fortunate to meet him in a life time don’t hesitate to take a selfie with him because his kind is rare.
ALABEDE SURAJDEEN is a serving youth corps member.
President/Director of Public Health and Environmental Concerns Initiative (PHECI).
A one time President African Liberty Student Organisation, UNILORIN.