This is a continuation of Senator Iyabo Obasanjo's open letter to her dad, former president Olusegun Obasanjo.
If you missed it,
Here's the second part:
Getting back to my mother, I still remember your beating her up continually when we were kids. What kids can forget that kind of violence against their mother? Your maltreatment of women is legendary. Many of your women have come out to denounce you in public but since your madness is also part of the madness of the society, it is the women that are usually ignored and mistreated. Of course, you are
the great pretender, making people believe you have a good family life and a good relationship with your children but once in a while your pretence gets cracked.
When Gbenga gave a ride to help someone he didn’t know but saw was in need and the person betrayed his trust by tapping his candid response on the issues going on between you and your then vice-president, Atiku Abubakar, you had your aides go on air and denounce the boy before you even spoke to him to find out what happened. What kind of father does that? Your atrocities to some of my other siblings I will let them tell in their own due time or never if they choose.
Some of the details of our life are public but the people choose to ignore it and pretended we enjoyed some largesse when you were President.
This punishing the innocent is part of Nigeria’s continuing sins against God. While you were military head of state and lived in Dodan Barracks, we stayed either with our mum in the two-bedroom apartment provided for her by General Murtala Mohammed or with your relatives, Bose, Yemisi and your sisters’ kids in the Boys Quarters of Dodan Barracks. At QueensCollege, I remember being too ashamed to tell my wealthy classmates from Queen’s College, Lagos we lived in the two room Boys Quarters or in the two room flat on Lawrence Street.
No, we did not have privileged upbringing but our mother emphasized education and that has been our salvation. Of my mother’s 6 children 4 have PhDs. Of the two without PhD, one has a Master’s and the other is an engineer. They are no slouches. Education provided a way to make our way in the world.
You are one of those petty people who think the progress and success of another takes from you. You try to overshadow everyone around you, before you and after you. You are the prototypical “Mr. Know it all”. You’ve never said “I don’t know” on any topic, ever. Of course this means you surround yourself with idiots who will agree with you on anything and need you for financial gain and you need them for your insatiable ego. This your attitude is a reflection of the country. It is not certain which came first, your attitude seeping into the country’s psyche or the country accepting your irresponsible behavior for so long.
Like you and your minions, it’s a symbiotic relationship. Nigeria has descended into a hellish reality where smart, capable people to “survive” and have their daily bread prostrate to imbeciles. Everybody trying to pull everybody else down with greed and selfishness — the only traits that gets you anywhere. Money must be had and money and power is king. Even the supposed down-trodden agree with this.
Nigeria accused me of fraud with the Ministry of Health. As you yourself know, both in Abeokuta and Abuja I lived in your houses as a Senator. In Lagos, I stayed in my mum’s bungalow which she succeeded in getting from you when you abandoned her with six children to live in Abeokuta with Stella.
I borrowed against my four-year Senate salary to build the only house I have anywhere in the world in Lagos. I rent out the house for income. I don’t have much in terms of money but I am extremely happy. I tried to contribute my part to the development of my country but the country decided it didn’t need me. Like many educated Nigerians my age, there are countries that actually value people doing their best to contribute to society and as many of them have scattered all over the world so have many of your children.
I can speak for myself and many of them; what they are running away from is that they can’t even contribute effectively at the same time as they have to deal with constant threats to their lives by miscreants the society failed to educate; deal with lack of electricity and air pollution resulting from each household generating its own electricity, and the lack of quality healthcare or education and a total lack of sense of responsibility of almost every person you meet. Your contribution to this scenario cannot be overestimated.
You and your cronies mentioned in your letter have left the country worse than you met it at your births in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Nigeria is not the creation of any of you, and although you feel you own it and are “Mr Nigeria” deciding whether the country stays together or not, and who rules it; you don’t. Nigeria is solely the creation of the British. My dear gone Grandmother whose burial you told people not to attend, was not born a Nigerian but a proud Ijebu-Yoruba woman. Togetherness is a choice and it must serve a purpose.
As for Nigerians thinking I have their money, when it was obvious I was part of the Yar’Adua (government’s) anti-Obasanjo phenomenon that was going on at the time. The Ministry of Health and international NGOs paid for a retreat for the Senate Committee on Health. The House Committee on Health was treated exactly the same way. The monies were given to members as estacode and the rest used for accommodation, flights and feeding. While the Senate was on the retreat in Ghana, the EFCC asked the House Committee to return the monies they received for their retreat and asked us in the Senate to return ours on our return which I refused, as it was already used for the purpose it was earmarked for in the budget that year which was to work on the National Health Bill.
The House Committee had not gone on their retreat. I did nothing wrong and my colleagues and I on the retreat did our work conscientiously. I asked the EFCC not to drag my colleagues into it and I am proud I suffered alone. As is usual in a society where people who are not progressive but take pleasure in the pain of others, most Nigerians were happy, not looking at the facts of the matter, just the suffering of an Obasanjo.
As the people that stole their millions are hailed by them the innocent is punished. When the court case was thrown out because it lacked merit even against the Minister, no newspaper carried the news. The wrongful malicious prosecution of an Obasanjo was not something they wanted to report; just her downfall. But it really wasn’t about me, it was about right and wrong in society and every society gets the fruit of the seeds it sows.
How do you think God will provide good leaders to such a people? God helps those who help themselves. I have realized that as an Obasanjo I am not entitled to work in Nigeria in any capacity. I am not entitled to work in health which is my training, or in any field or anywhere in the country or participate in any business. I have learnt this lesson well and there are societies that actually think capable, well-educated people are important to their society’s progress. Apparently, unless I am eating from the dustbin, Nigerians and possibly you will not be satisfied. I thank God it has not come to that based on God-given brains and brawn.
When I left Nigeria in 1989 for graduate studies in America, you promised to pay my school fees and no living expenses. This you did and I am grateful for because, working in the kitchen and then the library at University of California, Davis and later, working on the IT desk and later as a Teaching Assistant at Cornell gave me valuable work ethics for life. I wouldn’t have it any other way. As a black woman in the early 21st century, I have achieved much and done more than most. My wish is that black girls all over the world will have the capacity to create their lives, make mistakes, learn from it and move ahead.
Moving back to Nigeria, thinking I wanted to serve was obviously a grave mistake but one brought about by the tragic incident of April 20, 2003. This was the day five people were shot dead in my car. The mother of the children was an acquaintance I had met only one day before the incident.
We had attended the same high school and university but she was there ten years earlier than I. She had also studied public health in the UK as I had in the US. It was these coincidences that made us connect on our first meeting and then she decided to visit on the Saturday of the election of 2003 when the incident occurred. I am scarred for life by that incident and I know the mother was too as we both looked back to see two men on each side of my car shooting.
I understand her trauma and her behaviour since then can be judged from that. Nigeria is a nasty place that pushes people to lose their compass. I participated in the campaigns leading to the elections that day, more because this was my first experience of electoral process in Nigeria. Growing up there were no elections and I was too young in the 1979 and 1983 elections. It was interesting to see democracy at work. When Gbenga Daniel who I campaigned for offered me a job, I probably would have declined it, if not for the memory of the dead.
I felt I had to engage in making the country progress and to avoid such incidences in the future. I don’t need to tell you or anyone what kind of governor and person Gbenga Daniel is. As usual when I found out, you would not listen to my opinion but found out for yourself. I also campaigned for Amosun for the Senate in 2003. I have had some wonderful Nigerians do good to me, I will never forget the then Minister of Women Affairs, who saw me talking in the crowd at a campaign event and was alarmed and said “bad things can happen to you out there, I will give you one of the orderlies assigned to my office to follow you”. This was the police man that died in my car that day. I never really thought bad things would happen to me, I moved around freely in society until that shooting scarred me and I accepted a police detail. I was constantly scared for my life after that.
You called me after your vengeful letter as usual, looking out for yourself and thinking you will bribe me by saying the APC will use me for the Senate. Do you really know me and what I want out of life?
Anyone that knows me knows I am done with anything political or otherwise in Nigeria. I have so much to do and think to make this world a better place than to waste it on fighting with idiots over a political post that does no good to society. That letter you wrote to the President, would you have tolerated such a letter as a sitting President? Don’t do to others what you will not allow to be done to you. The only thing I was using that was yours was the house in Abuja where I left my things when I left the country. I eventually rented it out so that the place would not fall apart but as usual you want to take that as well. You can’t have it without explaining to Nigerians how you came about the house?
As I said earlier, this is not about politics but my frustration with you as a father and a human being. I am not involved with what is currently going on in Nigeria, I don’t talk to any Nigerian other than friends on social basis. I am not involved with any political groups or affiliation. You mentioned Governor Osoba when you spoke to me, yes I was walking down the street of Cambridge, Massachussets a few months ago, when I looked up and saw him reading a map trying to cross the street.
I greeted him warmly and offered to give him a ride to where he was going. This I did not do because I wanted anything from him politically but because that is how I was raised by my mother to treat an adult who I really had no ill-will towards. Some said he was part of the people that manipulated the elections for me to lose in 2011. I don’t have any ill-will to him for that because I think they did me a favour and someone has to win and lose.
I had told you I wasn’t going to run in 2011 but you manipulated me to run; that was my mistake. Losing was a blessing. As usual you wanted me to run for your self-serving purpose to perpetuate your name in the political realm and as the liar that you are, you later denied that it was you who wanted me to run in 2011.
In 2003 I ran because I wanted to and I thought getting to the central government I will be able to contribute more to improving lives and working on legislation that impacts the country. I found that nothing gets done; every public official in Nigeria is working for himself and no one really is serving the public or the country.
The whole system, including the public themselves want oppressors, not people working for their collective progress. When no one is planning the future of a country, such a country can have no future. I won’t be your legacy, let your legacy be Nigeria in the fractured state you created because, it was always your way or the highway.
This is the end of my communication with you for life. I pray Nigeria survives your continual intervention in its affairs.
Iyabo Obasanjo, DVM, PhD