OBJ’s letter to GEJ—some observations

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By Chinweizu

Former President Obasanjo, OBJ, is a general. Like a good general he is trying to defend a city under siege by launching a diversionary attack elsewhere, to draw the besieging troops off to defend the target of his diversionary attack and give himself respite to defend his city. That’s a military strategy that’s been in use for thousands of years.

I think that’s the strategic objective of his 18 page letter to President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GEJ.
OBJ is a diehard defender of the Nigerian status quo, of which he has been a major lifelong beneficiary. This National Dialogue/Conference debate is directing serious attack on the 1999 Constitution and the status quo that is based on it. Presumably, being doubtful that the system can withstand this siege, OBJ has launched this diversionary attack on corruption, which he believes will capture the attention of the, supposedly, gullible Nigerian public and divert them from the issue of the SNC and a new People’s Constitution. We must resist the temptation to follow him and change the conversation to corruption from the issue of the SNC and a new Constitution.

We must realize that politicians and their interests are subordinate to the people and our interests. We must resist any effort to divert us from our interests and to preoccupy us with the politicians’ interests. At this time the politicians are obsessed with their 2015 elections, whereas we should be obsessed with the fundamental question of how to get rid of the fraudulent 1999 Constitution—for that is a matter central to the relationship between the entire political class and the rest of Nigerian society, who they are empowered to plunder by the 1999 Constitution.

Some of OBJ’s specific concerns raise serious constitutional issues that we must find answers to.
He complains that GEJ made a promise to him and some other politicians that he would not seek a second term. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. Let’s assume that he did. Such a promise or contract, whether written or verbal, is unconstitutional: It violates the constitutional provision that allows a 2nd term to a president. We need to insist that politicians should desist from making contracts or insider deals that are unconstitutional. Such deals have no legitimacy/validity, are null and void and are unenforceable. So they shouldn’t enter into them.
Furthermore, under the 1999 constitution, if a contract or understanding is unconstitutional, is it not also unconstitutional, and a crime to enter into it? If so, isn’t it also a crime to insist that the
criminal contract be carried out—as OBJ is demanding? Is the aiding and abetting of a constitutional crime not also a constitutional crime? I invite our lawyers to answer that question.

OBJ is now posing as an “anti-corruption” crusader.
Before looking at OBJ’s anti-corruption rhetoric, let’s look at the word ‘corruption’ as used in Nigeria. In Nigeria the term covers a wide range of crimes, from a policeman at a checkpoint taking a N2 bribe, to a state governor appropriating the state’s budgetary allocation of billions of Naira and money laundering it into his private bank account abroad, under protection of the immunity clause of the 1999 constitution. This latter crime goes far beyond corruption and is actually looting.

After half a century of unpunished practice, such looting by government officials (lootocracy) has become entrenched as the norm in Nigeria and is imitated by all and sundry; which is why officials, down to the policeman at the checkpoint and the messenger sent to get a file, brazenly abuse their office and, with impunity, extort money from the members of the public that they are officially paid to serve. Nigerian officials have become addicted to lootocracy even though a significant and vocal segment of the population is opposed to it and decries it as “corruption”. But calling lootocracy by the name “corruption” is a gross misnomer and the error should be rectified: it is like calling a bank robbery that empties the bank vault by the name ‘pilfering’ or calling by the name ‘pick-pocket’ a bank robber who has made away with billions, or describing an act of mass murder as a case of assault and battery—a crime of doing bodily harm to somebody.

Since the 1999 Constitution, with its immunity clause and its clause ousting its Chapter II, is the godfather of corruption, any anti-corruption talk is just rhetoric unless it is combined with an insistence that the 1999 Constitution be abrogated. So, if OBJ wants to be taken seriously, if he is really against corruption–instead of just playing to the gallery and indulging in factional politics, why isn’t he campaigning for the SNC that would give Nigeria a new constitution that would get rid of that constitution’s encouragement and protection of lootocracy/“corruption”?

If Nigerians really want to get rid of “corruption”/lootocracy, here are two ways they could go about it. Consider the case of a man who is complaining about the flies disturbing him in his bedroom. But it turns out that he has put a shit bucket under his bed. If he wants to be rid of the flies he has two options: carry the shit bucket out and bury it far away, or leave it in his bedroom and take a fly whisk and swat each and every fly. If he insists on swatting each and every fly, he will just work himself to exhaustion without getting rid of the flies. But if he seriously wants to get rid of the flies, he needs to carry away the shit bucket. OBJ’s preferred method seems to be to swat individual flies. That’s what his EFCC and his verbal assaults on individual cases of “corruption” amount to. A hundred incorruptible EFCCs, even with the best will in the world, cannot hope to catch half the lootocrat officials in Nigeria—lootocrats that are encouraged and protected, and thereby generated daily, by the 1999 Constitution itself. OBJ must know that, and must have known that when he set up his EFCC. Of course, the speculation was that he had a hidden agenda in setting up the EFCC—which was to use it to target his enemies and shield his friends while posing as fighting corruption.
OBJ’s EFCC and verbal castigation approach to fighting corruption is part of the problem, not part of the solution. Getting rid of the1999 Constitution is the equivalent of carrying away the shit bucket and burying it far away. OBJ should join the SNC campaigners for a new constitution if he wants to be taken seriously as being an anti-corruption crusader.

Finally, we must remember that Nigeria’s entire political class is lootocratic, from LGA councilors and State Assembly members all the way to the NASS and beyond. They are lootocratic and have been so for 50 years! That’s what Nigerians must terminate, by changing the constitution that drives the lootocracy. We can’t allow ourselves to be drawn into their distractive factional quarrels. The entire system must go! The siege on the 1999 Constitution and its version of Nigeria must not be relaxed; it must be intensified until the OBJ citadel, the status quo that OBJ is defending, is completely overrun. Then, and only then, will corruption and lootocracy find no constitutional prop in Nigeria.

.Chimweizu, literary critic, can be reached at Sundoor999@gmail.com


  1. Elisha ishaku

    Obasanjo was right to treat Iyabo and her prostitute mother and bastard siblings the way he did. They re nit his kids. They ard bastards. Now we know that iyabo is not OBJ’s daughter.

  2. Ollalekan

    OBJ is one of our past leaders that has kept the Nigerian state impoverish even in the midst of abundant resources by misappropriating our funds with impunity. So therefore he does not have any moral justification to accuse GEj of corruption, let him purge himself first.

  3. Emmanuel

    No matter how good majority of the jornalists are in nigeria; you all live by the brown envelope but Obj doesn’t subscribe to that, that’s Y most of you will see the obvious truth and decide to play the devil’s advocate. Even during his tenure, nigerians knew that most of u brown envelope writers carstigate him because U know his kind of person. God is on the throne watching

  4. Umar

    Chinweizu I agree with u totaly

  5. Ogundu Ezeokana

    GEJ is trying to destroy Nigeria according to OBJ because he has the temerity to call for SNC which will overturn the 1999 constitution which protected a man who emerged from prison in 1998 with a bank balance of N23,000 but emerged from Aso Rock in 2007 a billionaire. How many shares does he own in Transcorp? A company floated to receive the proceeds of public companies in the name of privatisation. OBJ will never sleep because he has murdered sleep, or else why can he not leave us alone.

  6. Suny Lulu

    As OBJ had led the nation for the longest time since its inception, he can not be exonerated from culpability for precipitating most of its ills. Besides the massive corruption and 419 that started under IBB, most of the other problems including unemployment started under OBJ when he sent investors away in the 1970s and banned the importation of raw materials that were not locally produced. He also introduced the bloated pay for politicians! Nonetheless, GEJ should take his advice “before it is too late”.

  7. Jay

    Obasanjo is as guilty as President Jonathan. OBJ has no moral justification to accuse Jonathan of any wrong doing.

  8. andy

    you are right.they prescribe Lansdale for malaria and turn to blame the nurse for administering or alleged failure to administer the drug
    did it work in the past .only mortals fought corruption.pls ask how.he was the only leader that lived by his salary on record.all others are millions times more than the totality of their salary in service put together.a pot calling a kettle black.

  9. Akpan

    It’s obvious that the writer is a member of the PDP faction that supports GEJ. Education, Health and Infra-structure are decaying. The funds needed are being looted and yet GEJ turns a deaf ear to the cries of the people. OBJ has only stated the obvious that this regime is the most corrupt of all. I called it a regime because democracy isn’t what we are practising. So my dear writer, keep your criticism to yourself because you are part of the problem.

  10. jide

    Mumbo jumbo. Will changing the constitution change Nigerian attitudes? The key thing is the enforcement of Law & Order in all ramifications and everything will start falling into place

  11. Chuks

    This is another hungry writer seeking attention for political post. We do not even need OBJ to tell us that this country is heading in the wrong direction. All issues discussed in OBJ letter are very obvious to any sensible person. The level of corruption is too much and GEJ is not capable to run this country. HE FAILED TO RUN HIS HOME a la Mama Dame. Let them go back to the village and spend their share of LOOT.

  12. Mystic_mido

    Objective of this write-up is clear…thanks but no thanks!
    Posterity will judge you for this attempt to brain-wash Nigerians.

    In Life; constructive criticism is healthy and allowed!

    1. paul

      If all the things MAN OBJ wrote are true so what?

      No money missed under OBJ presidency?

      Nobody dies under OBJ presidency?

      Nobody decamped from PDP under OBJ presidency?


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