By Dele Momodu
Your Excellency, Assalam Alaikum. It has been over six months since you graciously invited me to your office in Abuja. I must note once again that I was truly honoured and humbled by our one-on-one meeting. We spoke and interacted like two old buddies. What was more, I was all alone with you without a third party in the room. We spoke candidly and cracked jokes freely. I remember presenting you with an advance copy of my forthcoming book and you even requested me to autograph it for you which I did with such pride and gratitude in me. We took loads of pictures before and after the meeting. I left you reassured in my belief that Nigeria is in safe hands.
Sir, a lot has happened since that meeting took place. In fact, so much water has passed under the bridge. Let me take you down memory lane a bit. You started contesting the Presidential election as far back as 2003. For three consecutive times, you lost and it seemed all hope had evaporated. In 2011, we were co-contestants. I was driven to your house one night by Prince Lanre Tejuoso (now a Senator) who wanted me to tone down my criticism of you and opposition to your candidacy. I was totally disarmed by your humility and simplicity. You spoke softly and candidly. I felt you were too old to return to a post you left nearly 30 years ago but you were certain you still have so much in you to offer Nigeria. The Jonathan government that won the election at that time was ushered in with so much hope and promise. After that election, you said that you would never seek elective office again. After three arduous attempts, you must have felt it was all a bloody waste of time seeking an opportunity to rebuild an irredeemable country that seemed determined to be plunged into the abyss by those you were convinced did not mean well for the country. But the government that promised us fresh air soon lost its sail and floundered aimlessly. It wobbled and fumbled till it became obvious that something had to be done to avert a monumental catastrophe, the kind that you had foreseen. The situation became so bad that most of us were left with no choice but to see you as our only God-sent redeemer.
This was how the stone previously and repeatedly rejected by the builders suddenly transfigured into the much needed cornerstone. Your most caustic critics soon became your ardent fanatics. We were hypnotised and mesmerised by your new look. You were repackaged as a reformed and born again democrat. We studiously ignored your military credentials and dictatorial proclivity. The young and old screamed your name from the rooftops. Many youths were ready to march for you and even die in the process. The last time we witnessed such a phenomenon was in 1993 when Chief Moshood Abiola contested and won the June 12 Presidential election which was later annulled by your former colleagues in the army.