The Fickleness of Obbo Lemma Megersa
Assefa A. Lemu 12-24-19
Obbo Lemma Megersa is one of the successful OPDO/EPRDF cadres. He started his service as an ordinary cadre and reached the point of being the President of the most populous and largest State of Ethiopia and then the Minister of Defense. His contribution to the current political change which took place in early 2018 in Ethiopia is also exaggerated by his supporters. Even he got credit for surrendering his Chairmanship of OPDO to Dr. Abiy which he did either because of lack of confidence or duress.
On November 15, 2019, on the EPRDF’s Executive Committee meeting to approve the merger of EPRDF and its rebranding as Prosperity Party (PP), we saw the picture of Lemma Megersa raising his left hand halfway with the gloomy face to approve the merger and establishment of PP. At the end of November 2019, Obbo Lemma announced on VOA Afan Oromo Program that he didn’t agree with the merger of EPRDF and he didn’t support the so called “Medemer” because he didn’t understand Medemer Philosophy (). We were confused as to which one to believe- his vote for the merger which we saw with our own eyes or his objection to the merger which we heard with our ears.
On December 22, 2019, we heard a press release given from the Oromia Branch Office of PP which announced the difference that Obbo Lemma had on EPRDF’s merger and formation of PP has been solved. Lemma has been moving from Oromo nationalism to Ethiopian nationalism, from opponent of PP to the supporter of PP and continues enjoying the support and praise of most of Oromos. The media and his supporters portrayed Obbo Lemma Megersa as the Oromo nationalist who took lots of risk in fighting for Oromo rights. He and his colleagues claimed that they brought the current change risking their lives. We believed them because we do not have a means to prove or disprove their claims. By controlling the information entering the minds of the people, they controlled what people perceive as truth. In addition, some of the diaspora who returned to the country after many years and who wanted to get position in the government and have access to the media venerated Lemma and Abiy and tried to convince us that the fate of the country is in the hands of Team Lemma.
Lemma has a right to have his personal opinion on everything and, if he wishes, the right to swing from one side to another and vice versa. As stated in the statement of Oromia Branch Office of PP, the cause of dissenting opinion of Obbo Lemma was the newness of the idea of Medemer (). As Obbo Lemma Megersa himself told us on VOA, the reasons for his dissenting include, his fear of the risk that may happen as a result of merger of EPRDF, his wish to delay the merger, the decrease in the value of his opinions in ODP, and his not understanding of Medemer philosophy ( ). It is fine if Obbo Lemma takes more time to understand Medemer because all students are not expected to understand one subject at equal pace. Some students are quick learners and other take more time and even repeat the course to understand the subject. Thus, we don’t blame Lemma for taking more time to understand Medemer, but he must stop swinging and confusing us.
Furthermore, in his interview with VOA, Obbo Lemma lamented about the decrease of his importance and listed his complaints but we didn’t hear him opposing his removal from the position of President of Oromia State and his vote on the EPRDF Executive Committee on the merger of EPRDF doesn’t reflect what he talked about on the VOA. His recent actions and interview show that Lemma Megersa is not a man of principle, but a fickle person who tries to bend based on the strength of the political wave. His actions are paradox—Tutuffatta, dhudhungatta (you despise it, but you kiss it).
It is naivety to expect former OPDO/ODP leaders who transformed themselves to be the leaders of PP to address fundamental questions of Oromo. The hope of Oromo should rely on Oromo youth (Qerro and Qarre), if organized, not on former ODP leaders and cadres. Recently, we learned that some of the top OPDO leaders were leaked critical EPRDF information to OLF and Ginbot 7 as well as worked with Qerro Oromo movement which rose against EPRDF. As Oromo says, “namni gurgura bare haadha gaba baasa” (someone who used to sell something, presents his mother for sale”. Lemma and his boss have the experiences of sitting on the fence to fall to a side which has high probability of winning and that was what they did in 2018 and this was what Lemma did this month. That is what they mean by breaking EPRDF from inside out.
The supporters of Obbo Lemma try to justify every decision he made and every action he took. Now, they try to convince Oromos that he made a wise decision to work with PP to mitigate the negative impact that PP may bring to the multiethnic federalism and the constitution that gives guarantee to the right of ethnic groups and if that doesn’t work, to do to PP what he did to EPRDF, breaking it from inside out. For how long OPDO cadres and their supporters fool the Oromo people?
It is sickening that the Oromo people who claim to be about 40 million couldn’t create their own strong leaders who can address their long standing questions and the fate of Oromo continue to hinge on few individuals whom TPLF identified and trained. If Oromo people want to benefit from the current change in Ethiopia, they must stop worshipping those who publicly admitted that they were servants of TPLF and look for other potential leaders. Especially, Oromo elites must stop idolizing Lemma, Abiy, Shimelis and the like and stand up to be the leaders. As Ethiopian’s Election 2020 is right around the corner, there is no need to waste time on crying about Lemma and his team members.