Author, critic, Adebayo Adeolu talks about his recent books on former President Olusegun Obasanjo and President Muhammadu Buhari, and other issues in this interview with TONY OKUYEME
You started a career as an author with your first book The Evolution of Politics Via Excellence In Leadership. What inspired it? Has anything changed?
The ‘Evolution of Politics Via Excellence In Leadership’ has to do with the problems of Nigeria, that is, when you talk about the state of the nation and how they are running the country. If the country is not properly run, it triggers you to write a book. In that book I talked about leadership in Nigeria and some of the problems of being a leader, and resource control, which was at the height of the political situation in Nigeria at the time.
Obasanjo was the president at the time, and resource control from the Niger Delta was being agitated for. I did that book then, and I tried to create a fair balance because I felt that if we are saying Nigeria is one, then the resources should be shared equally.
That’s what I was saying in the book. But from what we’ve seen, even when Goodluck Jonathan became the president of Nigeria, he wasn’t able to solve the problem. He didn’t talk about the cleanup; he didn’t try to tackle the gas flaring issues. I felt that when Goodluck Jonathan got there he should have corrected those things within five years.
Issue about Nigeria ceding the Bakasi Peninsula to Cameroon was the focus of your second book, ‘Fraud at the Hague-Bakassi: Why Nigeria’s Bakassi Territory Was Ceded to Cameroon’ (2011). Why do you think it was so important to write a book on Bakasi at the time?
When I looked at the issue of Bakassi, which was ceded to Cameroun, I can say that Nigeria’s foreign policy has not been handled the way they used to handle it when we had the Super-Permanent Secretaries during the Gowon Years The people we have now are more like ‘yes boys’, they don’t know what it is to be like a sovereign country. You see people say they want to go and report to the United Nations, they want to go and report to the US., they want to report to Britain to come and assist them to run the country. It is not done like that.
Just because a white man tells you something it does not mean it is right. People don’t read and they don’t try to follow history or have their own mind Bakassi is definitely Nigerian territory because when the Europeans came to Africa they met the Efik people of Calabar in the Bakassi peninsula area and the British had accessed Bakassi through the West of Bakassi which puts it in Nigeria.
Even the English speaking part of Cameroun known as Cameroon was part of Nigeria before, and when they moved on to the French speaking Cameroun it didn’t still give them the Bakassi Peninsula because Bakassi is part of Nigerian territory. When President Buhari came in, he was going to ask for the Bakassi back. That was what triggered off the shuttle for the President of France coming to Nigeria severally.
He kept on coming hoping that President Buhari will accept The Green Tree agreement as it was. But some people who were against IPOB, who were against Biafra, advised him against it, telling President Buhari that if he goes on to make an appeal to claim Bakassi back, and bring up the case at the Hague again at the international court of justice, that the Ibos who are asking for Biafra will use that access, which they did in the 60s, to bring in arms. That’s how they stopped the idea of reopening the case.
So, that’s why I wrote the book on Bakassi. I felt that as Goodluck Jonathan is from that region, I expected him to have gone to the Hague, that is the International Criminal Court of Justice, to re-present the case, which Walter Ofonagoro had even brought up more evidence which he was using during the Abacha years to defend the case when the international community was trying to say that it belongs to Cameroun which is false.
The real reason why they wanted Nigeria to hands off Bakassi Peninsula was because when Obasanjo was president because of his romance with George Bush who was demanding for a naval base in Africa.
Through Africom triggered fear in Europe. After the First World War, the League of Nations that formed the European Union made a decision that they will not allow a super power in the Bakassi region because having a super power occupying the Bakassi region would pose a risk to the world. Having a super power military base there would bring any country around the world on its knees because of the strategic nature of the region when it comes to military power so they snatched it so it’s within the control of France which would safe guard the place for other European countries making them safe from anyone outside the European Union and this was purely colonial politics at play.
From leadership and development issues you went into writing biography, first on former president Olusegun Obasanjo. Tell us why you decided to start with Obasanjo?
Yes, I decided to write a book on President Olusegun Obasanjo because he was accused in a wicked way in Nigeria and was seen as an enemy to MKO Abiola who he simply tried to protect from humiliation and was vilified as not being a true Yoruba son.
The irony of the whole June 12 saga had a lot of missing links My book exposed all the hidden and unknown about the meeting Obasanjo had with Abiola which had never been reported anywhere before.
In my book ‘Obasanjo Nigeria’s Most Successful Ruler’, chapter 16 June 12 Saga Abiola Offered Premier examines and reveals Obasanjo’s role in the annulled election, how he had warned Abiola to wait for Babangida to go before venturing into running for President, he told him in confidence when Babangida leaves the place then you can come out and contest. I urge people to get a copy of the book there are many things inside you will not find in any other book so it was the reason I wrote the book for people to be informed.
Well Obasanjo still remains Nigeria’s most successful Ruler he is the one that understands how to govern Nigeria best he has the key and knows how to stir the ship both politically socially and economically others had been either killed overthrown or disgraced out of office with the exception of Jonathan and Abdulsalam Abubakar he also was the only one till date that has brought leaders of other countries to Nigeria and I mean from every point of the compass including three American Presidents.
The book is selling and this inspired more writing even though Obasanjo shied away from a book launch. Then all other Yoruba politicians today have no pedigree; they all hide under Awolowos shadow using his name to win election in Nigeria and to get recognized.
Was that also why you decided to write a similar book on President Muhammadu Buhari?
I decided to write on President Buhari too as he is very misunderstood by many people especially his mercantilism economic policies. In my book, ‘Muhammadu Buhari The Black Pharaoh’, I have called him the ancient name of kings, monarchs equivalent to Head of State or President because you have to qualify to be called a pharaoh like the Egyptian title because first of all Fulani people are from Egypt; second, Buhari has 12 million followers, not Facebook but people who come trooping out to see him some climb trees and rooftops to catch a glimpse of this magnificent personality of a man whose simple style the ordinary people of northern Nigeria have fallen in love with as their hero mentor and leader even the Emirati and House of Saud in Saudi Arabia respect him a lot and would open the Holy Kabba in Mecca for him to offer his prayers a very rare honor.
Before the arrival of the Europeans there were no borders so Buhari has relations in Egypt Chad Niger Mali and From Kano state you only have Chad a country in between Nigeria from Kano state and Egypt it was the European powers that created the lines and borders dividing the countries into what they are today but before borders did not exist and is the reason you still have Fulani traveling within the continent with their cattle and it’s also a reason many up north have relatives in Nigeria chad Cameroun Mali and Egypt because the borders are wrongly placed by Europeans who did not divide the continent properly to accommodate the right ethnic groups.
President Buhari’s style also similar to ancient Egypt he delegates to trusted men and might seem not very visible at times The name Black pharaoh puts him among great and revered leaders from Egypt also recently late President Mubarak has been announced one of Egypt’s Pharaohs. President Buhari’s success is being limited by the choice of those who work with him many are not 100% loyal to him as they have served other leaders and are many times undermining his government and authority.
After this book, which one comes next?
Former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd) is next.