So Obasanjo Did Not Do A Single Good Thing?

Fellow N/landers, I took pain to type this article I saw in the Daily Trust as I could not find the electoronic copy on their website, also because of its importance to Nigerian history, if indeed we have all being fair in our assesment of the OBJ administration. I find this article highly instructive, most especially from a newspaper that has had an average of 3 articles on a daily basis bashing Obasanjo for close to two years now. This newspaper has called OBJ names unthinkable in many of their publication that one would think their sole mission for existence is to destroy anything Obj. This article was written by one of their Snr staff, I encourage you all to read through and let see if we can put history in their proper perspective, sentiment apart.

So Obasanjo did not do a Single Good Thing?

Article by Idang Alibi, a senior staff of Daily Trust

Daily Trust Newspaper of January 8 and 15, 2009.

When I ask some people why they hate Obasanjo so much, some tell me that during his administration Nigeria earned so much revenue from crude oil but that he did not do anything with it. Really? As far as I know the evidence on ground contradict that assertion. We will look at my own evidence. I think it will be fairer to say that according to the way each of us sees things Obasanjo may not have done much as we wish he should have, but to say that he did not anything is unfair lie. The following are some of the significant things I think that Obasanjo did with Nigeria’s petro-dollars.

Freeing Nigeria from debt enslavement: For me the single most important thing Obasanjo did for Nigeria was to free her from debt peonage. And recently, the current Minister of Finance, Dr. Mansur Mukhtar gave what to my mind is a well deserved salute to Obasanjo by saying that if we had not negotiated an exit out of our then 33 billion dollars debtat the time we did, today we would not be talking of owning 33 billions dollars. What we will talking about instead is 50 billions dollars indebtedness to foreign creditors. This would have come about for penalty payment for defaults and accumulated compound interests. See the great gain Nigeria has got from Obasanjo’s sagacity and courage. When he took that step many condemn him savagely.

Some mocked at Obasanjo calling him a man of the old school who was a living example of the biblical admonition that you should owe nothing to anyone. Some radicals even wondered how any sane man will want to pay such a huge debt. They cited the example of the USA as the most indebted nation on earth who was not even in a hurry to repay what she owe and wondered why Nigeria should seem in such a hurry to pay her own. They sounded as if owing and refusing to pay is a kind of virtue and not a vice. Mercifully. Obasanjo disregarded them all. And today, we have Obasanjo to thank for his patriotic stubbornness. At least Obasanjo is right on that score. Why do we no acknowledge and give him credit for it? Obasanjo used part of our oil revenue to free us from enslavement. That is no mean achievement.

The positive spill-over effect of our freedom from debt can not be quantified in material, monetary or even spiritual terms. Our quality of life today would have been considerably lower if we were still indebted. Some relief gained as a result of our exit from the debtors club has done much to alleviate poverty in the land.

I said at that time and I will like to say it here now that if Zik, Awo, Ahmadu Bello and other nationalists can be credited for winning for us our first independence, Obasanjo can be said to be the man who won for us our second independence when when we lost it through our foolishness and recklessness. From the confession of Dr. Mansur Mukhtar, Obasanjo has been vindicated.

Building of Foreign Reserves: What is the second important thing Obasanjo did with our oil money? He built foreign reserve of over 60 billion dollars for Nigeria. It was under Obasanjo economic management that for the first time in the history of this nation where leaders squander money like drunken sailors that we managed to save that much for a rainy day. It takes prudence not to blow away a fortune. Let us give Obasanjo some credit for frugality.

The Integrated Power Project: Obasanjo used part of our oil wealth to try provide light for Nigeria. It is unfortunate that today the story of integrated power project undertaken by Obasanjo is so mired in the politics of intrigues , manipulation of information to achieve certain objectives and blackmail that no one knows the real truth about it. Obasanjo did not deliver light to Nigerians with the IPP. But what is a greater truth is that the idea behind the building of sic gas –powered power plants was not a foolish one. The low intensity insurgency in the Niger-Delta where gas was to be sourced for the plants may make the idea foolish today but some of us are being wiser after the event. The tragedy of highly politicized probe into Obasanjo power project is that we can not just be certain about how much was actually spent and whether or not the amount spent is commensurate with the results achieved.

I think that if we were not too much in a hurry to demonize Obasanjo but had taken the time to find out exactly what he did, where he stopped and what remains to be done and taken the steps to complete what was outstanding, the IPP would not be the disaster that it is held out to be.

I would have wished that Obasanjo had completed the power project and left a legacy of stable power supply, but for whatever reasons he was unable to do so. But government is suppose to be a continuum . At any rate, it has not been decreed that it must be Obasanjo who should solve our power problem. He did his best to the best of his ability. Let us commend him for the little he did and urge the present administration to learn from his failure and give Nigeria steady power supply.

The unnecessary bad blood that has been generated over the power probe will not give us light. What will is for intelligent and patriotic persons to sit down and decide what to do and avoid distracting politicking and posturing. We spend too much time blaming the past in this country, when what we need to do is to plan our future. If I were in the medical field I won’t want to be a post-mortem surgeon. I would prefer to be a reconstructive surgeon.

Dualization of Nyanya-Keffi road and building of the National Stadium, Abuja: Still in answer to those who wonder what Obasanjo did with the oil money that accrued to him, I want to mention two projects that quzzuled some of that money. For some of us who live in Abuja and who have been here before the second coming of Obasanjo in 1999, we must be aware of how the old Nyanya-Keffi Road which was then one lane road used to consume human lives almost on daily basis. Almost on daily basis the stretch from Sanni Abacha Barracks to Nyanya used to witness horrible accidents. Trailers and other heavy duty vehicles used to be involve in multiple accidents, killing, maiming and destroying property.

Obasanjo dualised that road and today the demons that used to suck blood on that road has been contained. That road cost about 50 billion dollars. If some of us do not consider it remarkable , I do for the simple reason that people are no longer dying needless deaths on that road anymore.

The Abuja National Stadium: As with many things associated with Obasanjo, when he muted the idea of building a national stadium in the federal capital, many Nigerians kicked against it, saying that the money should be put into other projects that will have greater relevance on the lives of the average people.

Some of us said then that if the money earmarked for the stadium was used for it or not poverty will not disappear in Nigeria. Obasanjo went ahead with the stadium project. Today, it is standing as a monument executed during the Obasanjo era. And it will continue to stand as a memorial of to the stubborn nationalism of Obasanjo. Am pretty certain that when the Taj Mahal was built in India several centuries ago as a monument to love, some social critics of the era had mouthed some sentiments about the plight of the poor in India. Today India still has millions of poor people and the Taj Mahal is still standing strong, inviting millions of visitors to India year in year out.

So Obasanjo did not do a single good thing? (Concluding Part)

In the second part of this series published last week, I had mentioned some of what I consider some of Obasanjo’s concrete or solid legacy for Nigeria. In it, I forgot to mention also Obasanjo’s achievement in the gas sector. I do not have the figures but I do know that before Obasanjo left, Nigeria was earning more money from gas than she used to do before Obasanjo’s second coming.

In this concluding part of the Obasanjo story which some do not wish to hear but which I think I have a duty to tell all the same, I wish to dwell on the realm of concrete policy or paradigm shift. I believe that here too Obasanjo also left a string of achievements worth commenting on. The value of some of the policies that Obasanjo sought to institutionalize in Nigeria can not be calculated in monetary terms but those who know can attest to their value. I will mention only a few here.

Privatization Policy: Since independence, we have been confused about exactly what economic philosophy to adopt for national growth and development. We were practicing a confused and confusing model called mixed economy. This was a strange form of socialist capitalism. Under it, government owned what we call the commanding heights of the economy. Government was into almost everything. It owned hotels, airline, ports, even restaurants and telephones, just about everything as I said.

Arguments raged in the land about whether we should adopt capitalism or socialism as a national ideology for economic development instead of the mixed economic model that had truly mixed things up for us and which was at the root of why we did not get anywhere. Harry Truman once said that some questions can not be answer but that they can be decided. It took a man of decision like Obasanjo to decide that an end be put to the mixed economic nonsense. Obasanjo decided that Nigeria should become a full fledged capitalist nation.

And he decided so through a vigorous pursuit of privatizing loss making public enterprises which government had no business going into in the first place. My friends in the socialist camp have been riling against this courageous decision and since then abusing Obasanjo as a rununig dog of neo-liberal economics. I am an economic illiterates but I have the elementary knowledge that state’s involvement in business is not very good business at all for Nigeria. If it has succeeded in other countries, there is no indication that it will ever succeed here except we have a government run by angels for angels living in Nigeria. Our attitude to public property is so poor that when people talk about our common patrimony in Nigeria , I am truly puzzled whether they re actually talking about Nigeria.

They talked about NITEL which in over 40 years of our nationhood could only provide over 400,000 telephone lines to service over 140 million people. They talked about other drain-pipe enterprises that were only there for a few privileged citizens. Me, I could not understand what was going on. But I can understand what Obasanjo did. He wants Nigeria to adopt a clear cut capitalist development path.

The Bekwarra of Northern Cross River State, did go to the University of Chicago, that hatchery of Nobel laureates in Economics, but they have a proverb which shows that even as unlettered as they are they see something wrong with socialism or the public ownership of property. That is why they say inone of their numerous thoughtful proverbs that” the community’s goat dies of starvation”. The Ibo also say that “our is ours but mine is mine” We used to die of telephone starvation when when NITEL was running our common telephone patrimony.

Monetization Policy: No recounting of the monumental achievements of Obasanjo would be complete without mentioning of monetization policy in which efforts were made to stop the practice whereby public servants become fat parasites on government. In fact in the past, public servants of a certain cadre become government pikins . They live in government houses, ride government cars fueled for them by government, fly first class at government expense and even feed themselves and family at government expense. Some had fleet of cars at their disposal to run all manners of errands for them at the expense of the public they were suppose to be serving.

If an electric bulb costing about 60 Naira in their government quarter needed replacement, government would be called upon to do so. Some times at ten times the price of the bulb! Yet some Nigerians who have not bothered to find out the wisdom in Obasanjo’s monetization policy condemn as a heartless man who sold government houses and took other steps to deny public servants enjoyment!

With the level of corruption and malfeasance in our system, if Obasanjo had not instituted monetization, there may have come a time that this nation will exist for the sole purpose of providing for a few public officers.

In an interview he granted to a Nigerian newspaper during the run up to the 2007 presidential election, a presidential aspirant Mohammed Buba Marwa, once said that the president that will succeed Obasanjo will not have much problem because Obasanjo had already taken some of the courageous decision that needed to be taken. Some of them are privatization, debt payment, monetization, etc which can be very very controversial indeed. No two persons can agreed on some of these issues. Which some will praise them to high heavens, some will condemn them with every atom of vehemence at their disposal. It needs a man of decision to decide one way or another and to vigorously defend his stance as the direction the nation should go. Obasanjo did that for Nigeria.

I admired and respect Obasanjo for restoring fuel supply to power the economy and the social life of this nation. I also ask God to note that Obasanjo tackled the shameful issue of retired pensioners who were starving and dying because the system could not cater for them. He may not have solved the problem completely but he tried very much. The National Health Insurance Scheme which Obasanjo introduced is not working very well. But let us commend that initiative and build on it. Obasanjo did bank consolidation. It is partly why they Nigeria economy is ot as troubled by the world’s economic recession as is the case with other nations. Let us praise him for this. Obasanjo undertook a reform in the insurance sector. He left that sector better than he met it. Let us acknowledge the little effort he made in that direction too.

There are three special Nigerians my family and I pray for every day during our devotion. Obasanjo is number one. The other two are Mallam Nasir El-Rufai and Nuhu Ribadu. I admire them for some great qualities they posses which are critical for leadership: courage, passion, conviction, commitment and patriotism. I keep praying to God to forgive Obasanjo, his sins and show him mercy for saving Nigeria from creditors. I also ask God to note it that it was Obasanjo and el-Rufai who made Abuja the most beautiful city in Nigeria that it was intended to be before some rapacious and thoughtless person were bent on turning it into slum.

I tell God to reward Obasanjo and his economic team for building our foreign reserves to about 64 billion dollars when he left. Some uncharitable folks say he was able build that not through any economic management wizardry on his part. That it was achieved on the basis of an oil windfall. But let us realize that Obasanjo had the sense of frugality not to have blown the windfall in a typical Nigerian manner. Economists have said that it was because of the healthy foreign reserves that we witnessed a measure of stability throughout Obasanjo ‘s tenure well into today. We need to be fair to Obasanjo for this.

I know a lot of Nigerians will descend on me for saying it but let me say it all the same: those who once described Obasanjo as the architect of modern Nigeria were not being sycophantic. He deserves that accolade. He laid the foundation or pillars upon which a modern nation should stand. The new pension scheme, the new integrated power project, bank consolidation, monetization policy, and many more are sure foundation Obasanjo erected upon which a modern industrialized Nigeria should be built. As I said in the first part of this write- up, Obasanjo left a legacy that if others build on Nigeira will be the better for it.

As a people we tend to react with emotion or hysteria to issues. Very few are given to cold or sober reflection or dispassionate look at the issues of the day. Our power wielders know this weakness of ours and that is why they have become so adept at manipulating and mobilizing popular mood against their political enemies or any one they want to destroy. They reach out to some corrupt elements in the media with half truths, untruths or outright lies and trust that the persons they want to demonize will become demons in the eyes of some gullible Nigerians in the next few days. Today the game in town is to bash Obasanjo and in atypically Nigerian bandwagon fashion every one is desperately struggling to add his own voice to the condemnation of Obasanjo. How sad.

13 answers

Obasanjo was perhaps the best leader Nigeria has had since independence, and he was still a lousy Bleep.

After the rejection of the third term I thought that he had made his 1 mistake, but I was happy that Nigeria was moving in the right direction. Until much to my suprise, and perhaps Yaraduas, a coronation took place.

It seemed 8 years of work were flushed down the drain. And after Obj left office the full scale of the corruption has slowly been un-earthed. Pity.

However, he was still the best leader Naija has had since independence.


If it rains tomorrow, I'm sure someone will say it is OBJ's fault. If someone's wife fails to conceive, someone else will blame OBJ for that too. When bad things happened during his tenure, we rightly blame him for them. Yet when good things happened during his tenure (GSM, debt relief) we dismiss them as incidental. We fail to take into account that it was his policies that achieved these things. They did not happen by themselves. Yet strangely there was no universal GSM (despite the millions pumped into the communications ministry under the watch of David Mark, Murtala Muhammed, and with MKO ABiola etc) or debt relief.

The bulk of that debt was also incurred between 1979 and 1999 (i.e. the exact period of time between when OBJ left power and when he returned).

Rather than blame OBJ for everything, people should start asking questions like:

-What tdo the Govs of oil producing states do with all the billions in oil derivation revenue given to them?

-Why is it that Bauchi and Rivers states have made so much progress even though they don't have nearly the budget of Delta or Bayelsa states?

-Why was Ribadu forced out of office?

-Why has there been no military coup in Nigeria for over a decade? (the longest period without a coup in Nigerian history)

-Which African country was the first to pay off its national Paris Club debt?

-What happened to the prosecutions of corrupt Govs like Ibori, Kalu and Dariye?



Thanks for your comment, i did not expect us all to agree on this thread, but I expected that when we agrees or disagrees there must be a level of objectivity to support our positions. Going through the responses I saw some of the reasons that made us backward as a nation, while we re entitle to our own view and opinion, there are some factors that affect us as a people, that always coloured our perspectives on issues and these factors have become a Nigerian thing. Some of them includes religion, tribalism etc. These are value based issues, as a social scientist, one of the first thing I was taught was to separate my values when analysing any giving social phenomenon, however, this is not a simple task, as it means that I should not allow my background to colour my analysis. This means that sometimes, I arrived at a result that I don't like as a person or that is opposed to my personal sentiments. As hard as that may be, the scientific approach is a problem solving approach, we must face reality in this part of the world, we must acknowledge our shortcoming and be determine to address them or else the end to our suffering may not be insight. We must examine ourselves.

A sage said, "an unexamined life is a life that is not worth living" we shy away from reality about ourselve, we rationalize, we confuse knowledge with half truth and lie and yet we want a good outcome. It is not possible. I also realized from the responses above that some people gave us what Obasanjo did wrong of did not do at all, but none of them could dispute or refute the fact that he did all those things which the writer said he did. Now if he did those things well and others he didn't do well, shouldn't we judge him fairly? or are we ourselves perfect that we can satisfy the needs of 150 millions Nigerians at once or within 8yrs.

Again, I realized that many years of suffering by Nigerians have really change our nature and pattern of behaviour so muc, that an average Nigeria is negative minded, and didn't believe that anything good can come out of anthing that is Nigeria's, this is reflectd in so many negative confession by Nigerians about anything that has to do with this country.

History indeed will judge OBJ ,but no one living in Nigeria before and after his tenure can deny that he did those things list above, the writer is a journalist and informed on the happening and issues that has to do with Nigeria than most of us, again he is from that part of the country that is demonizing OBJ and works in a national daily that champion that demonization agenda.



despite soudning like an insider and a learned man, u succeeded in contributing nothing to the topic at hand. permit me to remind u that been educated is no longer what it used to be in nigeria. the highest level of eductaional achievement as far as i know is proffessorship if am not mistaking and we already have a representative of proffessors in nigeria in the person of Proffessor Iwu so you better get something new for urself to earn the kind of respect and audience u are working for.

you pointed at such issues like population, who told u that we numbered over 140 million? if it is census, which one? where are u from? where u counted? what about me? how many goats and cows were counted in ur family? how do u think the high rate of death during the past administration affected the census? increase or decrease? i will urge u to keep this ur wisdom for school exams bcs we are well informed on the irregularities of census and other govt programmes in nigeria.

you mentioned paid press, who are they? ait? yes because they were airing the third term agenda in the house live to inform the masses on the real situation? then who paid them? the masses i guess? since u don't work on the datas of the paid press, on whose data are working with?

in the bible, a man called adam was asked, where are u? and this question if am not mistaking shld have been treated under geography having to do with location but he decided to respond in biology andswering i am Unclad.


please when next u see a topic, read carefully even in ur exams halls, read and re-read carefully before u answer. having said that, could u pls say something about the progress and achievements of obj's administration enjoying eight uninterupted years with him as the president and oil minister in midst of oil boom relating that tyo the states of our roads, security, power supply and other basic armenities.


I marvel at the level of misinformation lots of us Nigerians bandy. We both ingest and peddle all sorts of unfounded facts. I only wonder if this is borne of genuine ignorance, or a very deliberate attempt at distorting the facts.

For instance, someone has made reference to the 120 million people in darkness. I am wondering if he was referring to the population of Nigeria. I thought we number over 140 million. If this wasn't a typo, then imagine the level of disinformation this fellow and his likes will 'succeed' in populating polluting the public space with.

Also, please where did we get our facts about 14 billion dollars spent on the IPP? Some peddle 16 billion, some 12 billion, and now 14 billion. So which is it?

Why do we allow the paid press mold our opinions on every issue? Why not we get into the facts and figures?Let me say, that we are so lazy to carry out simple research into issues that concern our lot as Nigerians.

This is our problem. What do you mean by Development indices? [/b]Since when did these things become indices of development? [b]The fundamental problem is that we know neither the syllabus , nor the marking scheme.

@samorijack, go and do proper research on Indices of Development. When you've done that, we can now come and score OBJs performance. OK?


OBJ came, saw and left Nigeria far worse than he met it, simple.

He had the best opportunity of transforming, impacting seriously on the lives

of Nigerians, he just simply missed the bus to achieving it, PERIOD.


even satan himself has some good things. did idi amin not have good sides? did saddam hussien not have some good sides? is mugabe not having some good sides?  no matter how bad an administration is, some good things must pop up from somewhere. at least obj made us to know that okonjo iweala a nigerian is good enough to be a world class economics though she is not workable in nigeria.

if we want to go down the lanes of the goodness of obj, some familes will tell u he is the best thing that has happened to humanity take for instance the likes of borrishade, the uba family and tony annenih at least no administration could have done better to the above mentioned families but the big question lies in the lives of a commoner.

even the supporters of obj accept his partial mistakes but non have ever stressed the implications of those mistakes as in how grave the mistakes are.

which administration is clueless? yar adua?  i wonder how most of us here reason. yar adua is a product of this autocratic regime that overlooked the interests of nigerians by imposing a clueless man if i can borrow ur word just to satisfy personal interests.

if u are not well informed, yar adua is part of the mistakes and failures of obj. look at bush for instance, the worst president in the history of america with the best election in the history of man so let us believe obj to be the best president of nigeria with the worst election human beings can imagine - a grave mistake.

real leaders build institutions that will outlive them but look at the past administration busy acquiring everything the nigeria laboured to build. buying over federal properties, sharing govt houses and lands, allocating oil wells to friends and well wishers as part of his fairwell gifts as if nigeria was coming to an end - that is share madness.

how can u pay debts when u need more? our roads, power supply, security hospitals, workers etc are in horrible conditions and u are paying debts to please ur foriegn spectors in pretence that all is well and today we are yielling for more money.

if there was an established institution and the past president selected a new one, why wont the newly selected president continue from where the old stoped. yar adua has nothing left to share to his friends as in all the houses in abuja were gone, oil wells fully owned, public companies all adenugarised and dangoterised, as the only things left were aso rock, dilapidated roads, hungry riden police, skeletal electrical projects so nothing to continue from.

in submission, obj had all the time in the world, all the funds he needed even excess of it, the support and materials he needed to fix nigeria but he had more interests in making himself a life president and a dictactor. he was so silly that he used federal contracts as a way of luring his daughter inlaw into adaultary.

the evidence and testimonies of nigerians on the past administration are seen in the day to day happenings on our roads and supplies of electricity as well as the security of lives and properties which has left nigeria behind every other country of this world and i will defend this to the last letter.


Whatever good things anyone imagines that Obsanjo did for Nigeria are greatly overshadowed by his single-handed robbery of Nigeria's entire 16 billion US dollar federal budgetary allocation for electrical power generation, during the tail-end of his mis-rule, which left the entire country of 120 million victims in absolute and total darkness thereafter, at incalculable cost in human lives and crippled commerce and industry.

There is nothing wrong with Obasanjo that cannot be addressed by a gang of trigger-happy bandits ambushing his car on a dark night along a lonely stretch of highway.


@ Afam

I don't have to be in denial or a liar to disagree with you . Despite your feeble attempts at evoking some kind of nationalistic emotion the simple truth is ,

on evry single development indicies Nigeria has fared worse this when the Obj administration came to power. What happened to the U.B.E scheme, Niational I.D card project, the last census, war on graft, need I say more?

Ghana is the way it is because of the input of it's former leaders, Ghana is on the right path at least politically is Nigeria?


the problem is that a clueless administration came in, instead of doing something of their own they spent more destroying the previous administration's records.

The sad lesson is how money drives Nigeria

The same people who own 80% of the media, installed Mike Aondoakaa, Mike Okiro, and most of this administration, scraped office of the Chief of Staff.

what does this mean?

They make policy, use their media contacts to skew public opinion, use their justice pawn Aondoakaa to defend it legally, use their police pawn Okiro to implement it, and then if you take them to court, the trio of Kutigi, Ogebe, and Katsina-Alu will make sure it falls flat because they have also been bought.

That is the sad story of Nigeria, with money you can  simply buy all the institutions of Government.

Nigeria is a BANNANA Republic.


Anyone that claims that OBJ did not do anything good in Nigeria is either a liar, living outside Nigeria or living in denial.

This is a non issue as facts support the position that he did a number of good things his mistakes notwithstanding.


Oh B.O.S.S, it's been a while. A happy new year to you.

I don't think this is an argument, and it will be a disservice to posterity, if things aren't put in their proper perspective.



are you Nigerian?

This is the first (one of the few) truly insightful writs on the legacy of OBJ.

He wasn't a populist, but did deliver on the truly important things. Soon, actually later, Nigerians will begin to appreciate him. Or at least, his legacy.

His policies were deliberate, methodical and crafted with a definite end on mind. And, as you have pointed out, the results are there to see.

Today, i read on ThisDay, a Nigerian daily, that the Nigerian Stock Exchange is the 2nd worst performing in the world. Incidentally, i remember that in 2007, the same stock market was rated the 2nd best in the world, on returns.

One investment analyst put it this way, "investors have lost confidence in the President's(Yar adua) ability to manage the nation's economy in these times". The verdict in OBJ's era was exactly the opposite.

As in an old poem title, 'Don't give me roses after I'm gone', it is good we honour our heroes while they are still with us.

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