Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Again, History Beckons on Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo should take advantage of his recent appointment as a Special Envoy to the crisis-torn Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to re-launch himself as one of Africa’s Statesmen leading the pack in the resolution of the various ethnic and political crises and conflicts plaguing Africa.
Given the untold human misery and mayhem tearing the DRC apart at the moment, African Statesmen can no longer sit by while DRC and other African countries are engulfed in smouldering fire. One African Statesman suited to take up the responsibility of redeeming the war-torn DRC is Obasanjo. Although he has been vilified by many critics over his performance in government, he has a history of helping other countries to resolve their conflicts.
It is obviously for this reason that the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon appointed him as a Special Envoy to DRC. Obasanjo may have his human foibles and political failures that may have tainted his image, but his international image as an African Statesman committed to the cause of promoting peace in Africa is hardly forgotten in many African countries. As a military leader, Obasanjo gained international reputation through his ceaseless contributions in ending apartheid in South Africa. Through his support, the hostilities in Angola and Mozambique were checkmated.
Obasanjo’s international reputation soared in 1979 when he voluntarily handed over power to the democratically-elected civilian government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari in Nigeria.
After relinquishing power in 1979, he retired to his Ota Farm. From there he hosted many local and international fora aimed at promoting good governance and peace in Africa and the world over. To make this dream come true, he joined the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group. In 1988 he founded the African Leadership Forum at his Ota Farm. Through this initiative he built outstanding collaborative networks with key governments and international institutions for ending conflicts and promoting good governance and respect for the rule of law in the world. However, some people ask what use he put these to later in office.
After Obasanjo dramatically bounced back to power in 1999, he established many initiatives which led to many leadership declarations and reforms in Africa. Together with Libya and South Africa Obasanjo envisioned the imperative of the reform of African Union (AU).
Although his image in the minds of many Nigerians looks cracked and shady, Liberians and Sierra Leoneans will hardly forget the key role he played in the restoration of peace in both countries. Given his high foreign affairs credentials, Nigeria maintained a high-level of military presence in Liberia and Sierra Leone for the restoration of peace.
More recently, Obasanjo played a key role in the formation of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) to address the current challenges facing the African continent. NEPAD was formed when issues such as the escalating poverty levels, underdevelopment and the continued marginalisation of Africa needed a new radical intervention, spearheaded by African leaders, to develop a new vision that would guarantee Africa’s prosperity. NEPAD has lofty objectives like poverty eradication, placing African countries, both individually and collectively, on a path of sustainable growth and development, halting marginalisation of Africa in the globalisation process, enhancing its full and beneficial integration into the global economy, and accelerating women empowerment.
History, therefore, beckons on Obasanjo as he returns to his element. If there is one country that needs peace urgently, it is resource-rich Congo, whose current state of poverty is an irony. We acknowledge that the crisis in Congo is a difficult one but he cannot afford to disappoint the many Africans and the UN looking up to him at the moment to assist in stopping the DRC from self-destruction. The unspeakable human suffering in that country calls for a deep humanitarian service.
This is the challenge before Obasanjo presently.