*Says most presidential aspirants should be in jail
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday, said some persons aspiring to be Nigeria’s President in 2023 should be in jail had the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) performed its job efficiently.
Obasanjo, who spoke at an international symposium organized to mark his 85th birthday, held at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta, Ogun State, said most of the aspirants lack integrity.
Obasanjo, who titled his address, ‘Africa Narrative with Nigeria Situation’, said though many presidential aspirants have visited him to solicit support for their ambition,he has not endorsed any of them for the exalted seat of the President in 2023.
The ex-President said, “I cast a cursory look at some of the people running around and those for whom people are running around. If EFCC and ICPC will have done their jobs properly and supported adequately by the judiciary, most of them would be in jail.
“Any person who has no integrity in small things cannot have integrity in big things. Fixing Nigeria must begin on the principles of nation building, not necessarily on emotion, sentiments, euphoria, ignorance, incompetence, ethnicity, nepotism, bigotry, sectionalism, regionalism, religion or class. The issues of security, stability, development, economy and our relationship within Africa and with the rest of the world can only be taken care of if we get the issue of the nation building right.
“We have a lot to learn from the events of the last almost twenty-four years and God is not to blame if we fail. It would appear that we are not getting our priorities right and that can spell doom on our country if we fail to do what we should do for nation-building in terms of fundamentals of equity, justice, common ideals, popular education, shared values, mutual respect and equality of opportunity anchored and propelled by leaders across the board that are persons of integrity, honour, morality, competence, great virtue, courage to do what is right, humility and ability to put a team together and work with them in selfless devotion and service with the fear of God”.
Saying federal character, rotation and such other measures are meant to help our nation-building process and more sure-footedly, move Nigeria forward, he explained that riding over these measures rudely, shoddily and roughly cannot augur well for our nation-building process and progress. “From personal experience and clinical observation, there is no substitute for steady and uncompromised process of nation-building as we have had in some notable examples in the past that have stood us in good stead,” Obasanjo added.
“Voting Shehu Shagari into power in 1979 with Alex Ekwueme from ‘Biafra’ as No. 2 in 1979 less thanten years after attempted cessation by ‘Biafra’ was in the process of nation-building. It took the United States of America, US and other countries that had gone through such wars decades before they could achieve that feat after their civil wars. Sustaining the declaration of the victory of Shagari by the National Electoral Commission when Shagari had majority of votes and clear one-third of votes cast in twelve States as against six States by Obafemi Awolowo which was also sustained and certified by the court and endorsed for implementation by our military administration was also part of the process of our nation- building”.
“Voting for me by other Nigerians in 1999, when Afenifere and the Yorubas substantially voted against me, strengthened our nation-building process. As continuation of that process, PDP adopted rotation and sharing formula for six key party political offices and government offices among the six geopolitical zones which stood the country and the party in good stead. It was the PDP policy that made it inadvisable to have candidate from the South to succeed me after my eight years in office as President.
“I was succeeded by Umaru Yar’Adua from the North. When Yar’Adua died in office, the nation-building process made us to follow the Constitution and for Jonathan to step in contrary to the desire of some people from the North who agitated otherwise”.
“I have been at the giving end and at the receiving end of contribution to the nation-building process and I know that if we derail from nation-building process with solid principles, Nigeria will be shipwrecked. I will, at this juncture, leave it to fair-minded Nigerians, who believe in the continuation of the process of nation-building, to decide which way Nigeria should go.
“I was told that social media credited to me name 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 principl;es 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. 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”.