When the letter speaking ill of the dead and bearing the name and signature of former president Olusegun Obasanjo materialised on social media last weekend, the question was, Is this fake?
But while we raked the internet for evidence, we also knew that, despite the scandalising content of the letter, it wouldn’t be out of place for it to have actually been penned by OBJ himself.
But let’s come back to that in a bit.
Two weekends in a row, I was with friends, colleagues and clients who, while drinking, like to talk about life. And by life, I mean Nigerian politics. However, when politics is talked, people bring up President Muhammadu Buhari and they compare him to every other president before him.
Is Buhari smart? Is he truly incorruptible? Is he tribalistic. Does he favour meritocracy, the federal character, or nepotism? Is he even the president?
At this point the loud arguments will segue into who has been Nigeria’s best president since Independence. Most of the time, and for no scientific reason I can tell you, the consensus is that Olusegun Obasanjo should take the title. Mostly non-tribal, firm, delivered results, respected around the world.
“Were it not for the Lagos-Ibadan expressway that he didn’t finish, he would have scored a perfect 100%.”
“Awolowo would have been the best Nigerian president ever, but he was never president.”
Also, could we effectively judge Buhari before he leaves office in 2023?
Obasanjo, however, is a master stuntman. He is 83 years old. He hasn’t been in government since 2007, yet he willy nilly captures the Nigerian consciousness. He could be an outrageous trolling grandfather, a relatable geriartric common man, or a dignified statesman. But every time he sneezes, the media will catch a cold.
OBJ may be a member of the old establishment but he (or the group of assistants who work for him) has a masterful control of the instruments of New Power. One of such instruments is the currency of group behaviour. Personal PR strategists need to study OBJ’s technique. I tell you, there’s something there.