Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, has debunked some social media reports suggesting that he is sponsoring candidates for the forthcoming general elections in 2023.
Obasanjo stated this weekend, at an international symposium to mark his 85th birthday celebrations held at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), in Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital.
In his speech titled, ‘Africa Narrative with Nigeria Situation’, Obasanjo noted that leadership in Nigeria has been relegated to winning elections rather than institutional, adding that the country needs to build from how it wants to be run before the question of who can deliver the job.
He added that “As the quadrennial madness builds a head of steam and the runners and riders crisscross the nation in the quest for nomination as the party flag bearer to the highest office in the land, I read and hear about endorsement and statements in support of candidates that I frankly have not made and forming next political parties that I can never get involved in. I was told that social media credited to me names of three people from the south that I am sponsoring for Presidency in 2023.
“My friend, Professor Ango Abdullah, who brought this to my knowledge remarked that he did not believe that I made such a statement because it was out of my character. I have neither named names nor stated my position.
“In situation like the one we are in, I will not rush into naming names without necessary consultations and well-defined principles and criteria. We need to be clear about what Nigeria needs today and why Nigeria needs it. Only then can we answer the question of how that will inform us of the criteria and characteristics for determining who.
“I believe in principles before personalities and taking personalities before principles is putting the cart before the horse. And for me, the major issue is how to progress Nigeria from a country to a nation.
“If in 2015 Nigeria was seventy-five per cent a country and fifty per cent a nation, today, Nigeria will not be more than fifty per cent a country and twenty-five per cent a nation. The task of reversing the trend is beyond one personality, one political party or all political parties; it is beyond professional and commercial politicians alone.
“It demands and requires all hands on deck. I mean Nigerians in all walks of life – politicians, community leaders, traditional leaders, religious leaders, diplomatic leaders, leaders in the academia, leaders in all aspects of government life, and leaders in other aspects of the civil society.
“Nigeria is tottering and for as long as we continue to put the cart before the horse, it cannot be well. Or put another way, for as long as we continue to do the same thing over and over again, the result will not be different.
“If the drift is not halted, the remaining twenty-five per cent of Nigerian nation will be dissipated in no time and Nigeria will not be a country but countries and will never be possible to be a nation again. That will be a monumental tragedy for Nigeria, Africa, the black race and humanity.”
The symposium which was centered on the theme, ‘Leadership and Africa narrative in development and progress in Africa’ had in attendance the President of Benin Republic, Nicéphore Soglo, former Minister for Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, President of African Development Bank, Mr Akinwunmi Adesina, amongst others.
Others who spoke virtually at the symposium include Professor Goski Alabi (Ghana); Ambassador Barry Desker (Singapore); Professor Juma Shabani (Burundi); Dr. Mary Khimulu (Kenya); Dr. Moussa Kondo (Mali); Professor Sarah Agbor (Cameroon); Professor Chukwuma Soludo (in-coming Governor of Anambra State, Nigeria; and Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (Muhammad Sanusi II, the 14th Emir of Kano and Khalifa of Tijjaniyya in Nigeria.