From MOSHOOD ADEBAYO, Abeokuta
Legal icon, Chief Afe Babalola has revealed that former President Olusegun Obasanjo averted military coups after he assumed office in 1999. Chief Babalola made the sensational revelation during a lecture marking the 40th Anniversary of Abeokuta Club in Abeokuta Ogun State at the weekend.
According to him: “Unknown to many seated here today, but for the efforts of Chief Obasanjo, Nigeria, despite the return to democratic rule in 1999, might have experienced another period of military incursion into politics. He added: “Unknown to many he (Obasanjo), it was that ensured that several attempts to overturn the civilian government after 1999 did not succeed. Babalola, the proprietor of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, recalled that Obasanjo was always quick to reacting “to any threat and, therefore, was able to save Nigeria and Nigerians from another dark period of military rule.’’
The former pro-chancellor and chairman of the Governing Council of the University of Lagos, while paying tribute to the club and some of his members, attributed the current civilian rule in the country largely to the efforts of Obasanjo. Recalling how he met Obasanjo, many years ago, the astute lawyer of repute stated that Obasanjo believed so much in the unity of the country. “As I stated earlier, he believes so much in Nigeria, so much so that at a great risk to his life, he personally took the initiative to visit Boko Haram states in search of peace. I do not know of any Nigerian leader who is capable of doing that. Chief Obasanjo is a Nigerian like no other.”
“It has pleased God to use this person (Obasanjo) times without number for the promotion, development and preservation of Nigeria.” Babalola, whose theme of lecture was, “Leadership Challenges: Sub-Saharan Black Africa,” lamented that black Africa had been let down by its leaders. He admonished that leadership anywhere in the world should be about service to the people, be about constantly evolving ways to improving the lot of the governed.
“The saying that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely rings true of African leaders, past and present than of any other region in the world. “ Ours, it would seem, is a continent whose history is replete more with tyrants and despots, rather than statesmen and global leaders.” While identifying Nigeria as one of such black African countries whose resources could not be compared with her economic development, Babalola said: “Nigeria for example is a classic case of a country which has failed to realize its potentials mainly as a result of the preoccupation of its leaders with attaining power alone.”
He also canvassed deliberate efforts to put in place constitutional and legal framework to discourage factors upon which bad leadership thrived in the country.