Opinion

OBJ and the BBC Hard encounter

A former President, OlusegunObasanjo, made me proud when he was being literarily grilled by the BBC interviewer Journalist Steve.
The pattern of questioning was like OBJ was on trial on air and international viewers on BBC felt  OBJ was virtually being abused on BBC, as if, he was being put on trial and found guilty .
OBJ, a former military head of state, 1976 to 1979 and who handed power to President ShehuShagari and he later was voted into power as a civilian President of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007 fought back gallantly to the amazement of Steve, who felt he had caught an easy prey but he was surprised OBJ gave him a piece of his mind and tongue.
The Hard Talk questions moved from issues of corruption under OBJ’s watch and some more personal questions about his daughter IYABO, who Steve said if OBJ would take responsibility for her actions, with respect EFCC trailing her over corruption matters.
OBJ fired back this way, ‘Would you ask this type of question to a European head of government?
‘You ask me to be responsible for my daughters brush with EFCC, in your country, would you ask the parents of a 21 year old in the UK for the crimes of  an adult?’
Mr. Steve of HARD TALK zeroed in on Halliburton scandal where some top shots of the Nigerian governments were alleged to be given bribes for a contract.
OBJ fired back ‘Was my name ‘Obasanjo’ mentioned in connection with the Halliburton scandal?’
OBJ answered that my former Vice President was mentioned in the Halliburton scandalbut whether it amounted to a crimes was yet to be proved.
The seemingly aggressive   stance of Mr. Steve was slightly unethical and worrying, as if, he had a premeditated goal he was pursuing against the former President OlusegunObasanjo and as OBJ stood his grounds at every attempt to either humiliate or rubbish him failed.
This act of one-sidedness in reporting news or even in conducting interviews by the CNN was what made the US President- Elect, Donald Trump to have a have a very low opinion of CNN which he dubbed CLINTON NETWORK NEWS. Trump observed the CNN reporters were rather too biased in favour of Hillary Clinton during the US 2016 presidential Campaign Trail.
In self- same the OBJ BBC Hard Talk interview smacked of premeditated bias against OBJ and being a former military ruler and a hardliner, he could not tolerate the pattern of the interview and virtually called him what nonsense are you talking about?
During the mention of the Halliburton scandal OBJ queried Mr. Steve, was there anywhere in the Halliburton scandal where Obasanjo’s name was mentioned?
Steve could not respond.
Such stereotyped pattern of questioning of African leaders at the BBC HARD TALK was what OBJ tried to reject and did it boldly and courageously.
If our own Robert Mugabe was ever put on the hot seat of HARD TALK he would respond in like manner and will shoot straight to the Reporter or Interviewer.
At 92 going to 93 and after spending some 35 yeard in power in Zimbabwe, he had been a torn in the flesh of the UK and US government who had written him off as a life time dictator where opposition leaders could hardly talk or standagainst himin the serial Presidential elections in Zimbabwe.
The performance of OBJ at the HARD TALK BBC interview revealed that he was not afraid of any form of blackmail by any white journalist. And if not for the fear of his international imageas a respected Eminent African ruler of being dented in the BBC hallow chambers in the UK; he could easily have delivered a blow, if an African journalist had dared him with what he calls stupid questions.
He showed guts and fearlessness and all attempts to want to intimidate him was a fiasco.
I think, we should always produce competent and knowledgeable African leaders across the board in the mould of Obasanjo, whose delivery of language was not shaky and he had his facts to back up his claim that he was not corrupt during his time in power as President in Nigeria.
These are matters of perspective. He told the interviewer that under his watch two ministers were tried in court for bribery one died in the process. An Inspector General of police was charged for corruption and he was sanctioned.
To have displayed such effrontery and courage and for speaking out to the international community through the BBC Hard TALK  segment  showed he was ever prepared to face trial for corruption anywhere in the world.
How many Nigerian politicians can speak this way without fear or favour.Thumbs up for   OBJ always Kamkpe.

About the author

Ihesiulo Grace

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