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II: Legacy

“So as not to be forgotten as soon as you’re dead, either write something worth reading or do something worth writing”

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“Military training is all about training and leadership. Leadership, management of human beings, management of resources, this is all that it is, and then in peace and in war and fortunately for me I have had the opportunity of really dealing with issues of management of resources, management of human beings in peace and in war; having had the unique opportunity to participate in the Nigerian civil war. It wasn’t a pleasant experience, but all the same I had that experience. So, having gone through that, leadership becomes part and parcel of my life”

That was Baba’s response to my asking him what pushed him towards leadership again through democracy. It’s a response that brings me back to the watch, and the need for vigilance from all of us. Also of great significance is the responsibility to do something when you have the means or ability to. Baba is someone who couldn’t turn away from project Nigeria despite having done so much already. How many of us have given up without even trying?

What is Obasanjo’s Legacy? He will be remembered for many things; his role in the civil war, his time in prison, his time as military ruler, or his stint as a democratic president. He may also be remembered for his alleged attempt at a 3rd term in office or his lengthy feud with Atiku who may or may not become the president of Nigeria one day. Perhaps it’s for something as simple yet as useful as facilitating the arrival of mobile phones ‘GSM’ in Nigeria. I put this question to him and his answer was very illuminating, as to what he believes his legacy is

“…to me the most important thing was that before I came, some people even came to me they say I would be the last president of Nigeria because after me there would be no Nigeria…, our currency was growing stronger and stronger, these are things that we achieved amongst others but the fact that Nigeria remained a strong united country is one thing that gladdens my heart…”.

It never occurred to me that at the time he assumed office, were he a more divisive and less decisive leader, Nigeria as we know it, may not exist today. Baba ensured stability and laid many of the foundations for our democracy, flawed as it may be. He has as good a claim as Goodluck Jonathan has recently made to being the father of Nigerian Democracy. Even Goodluck owes some thanks to Baba, especially for his support during the saga following Yar’Adua’s death1.

“the beauty of Democracy, This idea of dialoguing, participating, interaction another beauty of it is that if you have somebody in position and then he has failed to perform satisfactory, the way you put him in position is the way you also remove him from position by vote, and that is the beauty again of Democracy, now, you don’t go on shedding blood because you don’t want the man there, and then of course, if the man in there does not allow peace to reign, and whoever prevents peace from reigning then encourages violence to reign”

Perhaps the most intriguing answer of the interview was Baba’s response to my question about his long standing feud with Atiku2. It was a straightforward enough answer although recent events3 have left me with more questions regarding their relationship, questions we may never get answers to. As surprising as Baba’s U-turn on his stance towards Atiku may be, one must always remember the age old saying that in politics there are no permanent enemies just permanent interests.

“I don’t belong to any political party, I don’t. But when on the 23rd of January, I had to issue that statement where also I advised the incumbent. Saying, look whatever it is, maybe this is the time to ‘dignifyingly’ bow out, I thought for me it is not enough just to say oh! things are bad but what can we do about it, you should say things are bad but you should also come up with solution”

For Baba, project Nigeria comes first above all others and maybe for once Atiku’s interests are in line with his; for the incumbent this is an ominous sign4. Many will have their criticisms but a wise man once told me that a hungry man, presented with 3 bad apples to eat, must still pick an apple and eat. Make of that what you will. So many people have already given up without trying, these days it seems the Nigerian dream is to leave Nigeria.

“… you should say things are bad but you should also come up with solutions”

Next time you want to complain, ask yourself what contribution have you made to project Nigeria. It may seem corny to quote JFK in saying ask not what your country can do for you. But really think about it, what do you do daily to improve the society around you? Some of you are already doing your bit; those of you who aren’t, it isn’t too late to start. Not everyone will leave a legacy for the history books, of battles or elections won. With the advent of social media, some people are even building their legacies from the comfort of their own homes5. You can do something for society worth remembering today and begin writing your own legacy.


  1. Baba was amongst those who fought for Jonathan to assume office as president, after Yar’adua’s death.
  2. I asked Baba to shed some light on his feud with his former vice president Atiku Abubakar. Watch the full interview for more on this.
  3. About a week after the interview, much was made of a meeting between Baba, Atiku and some religious leaders. Atiku was forgiven and seemingly given Baba’s endorsement for his presidential campaign.
  4. Baba currently has a 100% success rate with his endorsements for presidential campaigns.
  5. The likes of @segalink on twitter are fighting, successfully, for justice from behind a keyboard.

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