However hard they try, those opposed to former president Olusegun Obasanjo's new book will not succeed in their bid to stop its circulation. Even if they get the DSS, Police, OPC, JTF (civilian and otherwise) and MASSOB working in harness, the book, My Watch, will travel. Very far.
The legal attempt to stop its publication, launched after it had been published, and the red-eyed rage it has provoked since its public presentation earlier this week will spark-if it hasn't-public hunger for it.
Obasanjo's publishers, however, may make a lot less than they had anticipated. And in case they have paid him some fat sum in advance, they could rue the day they signed the deal. The opportunity to make a mint from the former president's latest effort belongs to pirates; the guys who make the best of bestsellers available, via a vast network of vendors, at unbelievably low prices.
I am fairly certain they are working on it and will deliver when ready. If you aren't one of those insistent on buying originals, you'll get (DSS permitting). My Watch in the traffic for the price of a bowl of catfish pepper soup. Of course, the web is always there. Sir Alex Ferguson's latest autobiography was emailed to me less than a week after its release last year. It came (in pdf) complete with the cover design, foreword, glossary and everything a book in that grade should have. If I had the heart and the means, I would have made some cash from reproducing the book.
Therefore, no weapon fashioned against My Watch will prosper. What will prosper is a scrutiny of the Obasanjo persona. And this time, there will be a forensic edge to it. With his scalding assessments, the former president has invited the scrutiny, which is certain to be brutal given the timing of the release of the book. The elections are around the corner and most of the people on Obasanjo's hit list, as revealed by the spicy tidbits, hope to have a say in the polls.
President Jonathan comes out as a weak and lacking in capacity. Atiku Abubakar, Obasanjo's former deputy, is a shameless liar. Bola Tinubu is corrupt, while Nasir el-Rufai is brilliant but frugal with the truth. The late president Umaru Yar'Adua, writes Obasanjo, claimed to have healthy enough to discharge the duties of his office.
Having not read the book, I can't claim any more familiarity with it beyond tasty marketing-induced bits that have excited and reviled in equal measure.
Frankly, I doubt if any Nigerian believes that Obasanjo can ever be generous in the characterisation of anyone whose name is not Matthew Aremu Okikiola Obasanjo.
My Watch is good for us at this time because it re-invites attention to Obasanjo, who has made a career of being sanctimonious, and should provide for us enough ammo to shoot down the long-standing myth of him being a statesman. Obasanjo has gotten away with self-righteousness too many times, something that I believe encourages him to think he is the brightest thing on two legs. Most of us would hold back a bit, worry about how our critique will be received, fret about the outcome and be concerned about jeopardising future reconciliation. Not Obasanjo, who does not have a backward glance as part of his make-up. We know he never forgets, never lets a slight go by. It is for this reason he has bludgeoned Jonathan and others in his book. Jonathan has not covered himself in glory, no doubt, but Obasanjo hardly did. As president, he carried on as the electoral body, judiciary, anti-graft agencies and played the most toxic politics imaginable. His management of our resources was anything but exemplary. A man who treated Lamidi Adedibu and the Uba brothers like princes, failed to fix electricity in eight years and behaved like he was omniscient cannot teach others how to govern. Of course, he made money-tonnes of it from inappropriate sources-with his bank balance leaping from N20,000 in 1999 to God knows how much in 2007.
Of the claims I have read that Obasanjo made in the book, the ones I seriously question are those about Yar'Adua and the coy attempt at tenure-elongation.
First, Yar'Adua. The former president's claim that he took Yar'Adua's word on his brittle health for it advertises him as one without capacity. Or a shameless liar, as he has branded his former deputy. Could checks into Yar'Adua's health status not have been ordered before Obasanjo imposed him on the PDP and Nigerians? Or was his government so shitty that it had no agency capable of making a decent job of such, leaving us to rely on Yar'Adua's word? Or did Obasanjo know that Yar'Adua was gravely ill and kept telling us otherwise? Obasanjo was the one announcing to us that Yar'Adua was as fit as a horse. He was the author of "Umaru, are you dead? He is laughing hahahaha". So, what the hell is he talking about?
Third term? Obasanjo, as he's done many times, claims again that he didn't want it and it never was his idea. However, he was aware of it. Interesting. Curiously, his opposition to it was muted. The simple truth is Obasanjo has no basis to lecture anybody on governance because he is guilty of everything he accuses others of and needs to be told again and again.