Despite a not too chummy relationship, President Muhammadu Buhari has showered encomiums on former President, Mr Olusegun Obasanjo who marks his birthday on Thursday, describing his life journey as a life of courage, dedication and service to Nigeria, Africa, and humanity in general. Shoving aside the former President’s vitriolic comment on insecurity in the country
Despite a not too chummy relationship, President Muhammadu Buhari has showered encomiums on former President, Mr Olusegun Obasanjo who marks his birthday on Thursday, describing his life journey as a life of courage, dedication and service to Nigeria, Africa, and humanity in general.
Shoving aside the former President’s vitriolic comment on insecurity in the country which he described as “paralysis and katakata in the nation’s security house,” Buhari spoke glowingly about Obasanjo in a special birthday message, praising his commitment to Nigerian nationhood. He said Obasanjo’s commitment remains outstanding and commendable.
The President also underscored Obasanjo’s sacrifices for the continent, including standing up for democracy in many countries, praying that the Almighty God will grant him longer life, good health and strength to keep serving the nation and the continent.
Obasanjo had tackled President Buhari, saying, “There has been embarrassing paralysis and katakata in the present nation’s security house as if we have nobody in charge. If it had happened before, it was not so brazenly in the public domain.
“This type of situation cannot do credit to us as Nigerians and it can only sap confidence in the security architecture for people to say, ‘no wonder’. The President must accept the challenge and the responsibility,” he said.
Former Vice President, Mr Atiku Abubakar has said that no individual, living or dead has dominated the nation’s political space like President Obasanjo.
Atiku in a statement issued on Wednesday, commended the contributions of Obasanjo to the development of Nigeria, the African continent and humanity.
He said that no individual living or dead had bestrode the Nigerian political space as positively and purposefully as Obasanjo had done, “for good and better, in peacetime and war, in times of austerity, and times of prosperity.
“It is not an exaggeration to describe you as the preeminent political colossus in Nigeria, a nation that owes so much to you. Indeed, many Nigerians will read about your birthday on their GSM devices, which are one of your legacies to the Nigerian people.
“Your love for Nigeria and commitment to her unity, good governance and stability have prevented you from retiring, a sacrifice that my family and I deeply appreciate. From the Congo to South Africa to Angola to Liberia and São Tomé and Príncipe, your democratic fingerprint on the African continent is indelible. You have served and still serve as a beacon of democracy and a guardian of constitutionality,” Atiku, also a former presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) said..
He said Nigeria owes Obasanjo a debt that Nigerians could not pay. He said that the former president led Nigeria to pay its foreign debts that the citizens could not imagine paying.
“By that singular action, you planted trees for generations yet unborn. You hold the enviable and esteemed record of being the first African military ruler to have voluntarily, and without internal and external pressure, restored power to the government democratically elected by the Nigerian people.
“It was not your will to be in office, but it was your will to bequeath democracy to Nigeria. And after 21 years of the Fourth Republic, Nigeria has cause to celebrate your democratic credentials.
“Happy Birthday President Obasanjo. You are beloved now and forever,‘’ said Atiku.
President of African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwumi Adesina has also rained praises on the former President. He said the life of Obasanjo, as he turns 83 years old on March 5th, is full of unrelenting service to humanity.
In a birthday message, Adesina said Obasanjo had been making sacrifices for the noblest ideals, and selflessness in nation building.
“Your every moment is spent not on yourself, but on others, always with palpable and admirable commitment to progress, peace and stability across Africa and the world.
“You are the ‘Baba for Africa’. You are the Baba of Africa to the world. And I am always so very proud to call you my own Baba! Africa and the world need more of you every day, as you are a shining example.
“Today you celebrate another life milestone on your 83rd Birthday. On behalf of my wife, Yemisi, and myself, I wish you a very happy, memorable and joyous birthday celebration.
“I celebrate you for your outstanding leadership, for Nigeria, Africa and the world. Yours is a voice that inspires, boldly sending forth with courage, words of wisdom across the world, while inspiring hope for the future,” he said.
Adesina prayed to God to grant Obasanjo continued good health, joy, peace and longer life to enjoy to the fullest, the fruits of his hard work and labour of love for millions around the world.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has called for a new political order and arrangement that will strengthen her unity and make room for healthy and useful competition within the one entity “Nigeria”.
The former president who spoke at the first Annual Frederick Fasehun Memorial Lecture in Lagos on Saturday said it has become imperative for the Executive and the Legislature arms of government to work together to establish a Constituent Assembly, to fashion a new constitution for the country because what is required now is a new constitution and not an amendment of the existing one.
Obasanjo said the disenchantment with the governance structure started with the quest for “true federalism” during his tenure, but today the refrain has changed to “restructuring”.
The next phase, he said, is likely to be the call for self-determination by one or more geo-political zones, which will not be easy to suppress. He said he was one of those who underestimated the Biafran rebellion, saying it would not last three to six months, but it eventually stretched to 30 months.
“If after more 10 years of fighting Boko Haram, the terrorist group is still waxing strong, let nobody out of self-delusion think that a war of self-determination by one or more geopolitical zones of Nigeria with the present disenchantment would be easily suppressed by the rest of what may remain of the country,” he added.
He said most of the assumptions in the 1999 Constitution (as amended) “have been found to be unrealistic and unrealisable in practice by any administration that wishes to put them in the rubbish bin”.
He added: “This is the situation today. Let us put our experiences to work and fashion out a political order and arrangement that will strengthen our togetherness while making room for healthy and useful competition within the one entity, Nigeria.”
The former president who spoke under the theme, “Working the Talk Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow”, said Nigeria does not need to go the way of Yugoslavia, Sudan or Rwanda and Somalia.
He added: “None of these countries knew the avoidable and divisive end from the beginning. Let us learn from the experience of others and of our founding fathers who resolved their political differences through dialogue and debate without resorting to violence and separation but accommodation, telling themselves hard truth, tolerance and give-and-take spirit.
That was the foundation of Nigeria at independence and let it continue to be. If all we are interested in is power and not holding the country together harmoniously and wholesomely, we may hold the mirage of power and lose the nation or the country bequeathed to us by our founding fathers.”
Obasanjo said the bid by the National Assembly to amend the constitution once again is commendable. This, he added, is because members of the National Assembly are fully aware of the lurking danger and want to be proactive.
He said: “But the Nigerian Constitution does not give the National Assembly the power to write a new Constitution but the power to amend the existing one. What is required is a new constitution to meet the agitation and aspiration of all Nigerians and to allay all fears.
“The Executive and the Legislature need to work together to establish a Constituent Assembly. The exercise must not be compromised like the present Constitution; it must have full legitimacy of ‘we the people’,” he said
Obasanjo said he would continue to fight for ‘one Nigeria’. Nevertheless, he said he is not prepared to be a second class citizen for the sake of ‘one Nigeria’ and that he would wish the same for his children.
The former president commended the Governors of the Southwest region for putting aside their political differences for the sake of the security and the wellbeing of their people.
He said the current national security architecture has failed and that is why state Governors have resorted to various measures, including “paying off bandits, hunting them down with vigilantes and hunters and to innovative joint efforts like Amotekun”.
The first Annual Frederick Fasehun Memorial Lecture was organized to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) and to mark one year memorial of the death of Fasehun, who passed away on December 1, 2018.
Obasanjo eulogized the late Fasehun, who was the founder of the OPC, saying if he were alive today, he would have been seriously concerned about the deteriorating security situation and the political structure.
He described the late OPC founder as a true and committed Nigeria who stood out as a beacon of hope for the less-privileged. “Though he was learned and well-travelled, he thought nothing of freely associating himself with artisans and people, who were beneath his social status,” he added.
Obasanjo said ironically the late Fasehun’s role as the founder of the OPC has overshadowed his antecedents as a medical doctor.
He said: “Undoubtedly, he wanted to be free of the bureaucracy that attends the running of public institutions in Nigeria. Instead, of remaining in LUTH to bid his time and warm the chair, he resigned honourably. This led to his quitting LUTH to set up Isi-Hope Clinic in 1978 which later became Besthope Hospital.
The hospital flourished and grew in popularity. Among the clients was the Dock Workers Union ofNigeria and the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC.
“His medical prowess included reviving the kidneys of a lady (among several others) whom other doctors had billed for dialysis to be followed by a possible transplant. It took about 10 days at Fasehun’s Besthope Hospital, Mushin area of Lagos, and the kidneys returned to life. That was in 2004.
Shall we speak of women who had their infertility status reversed and came to know the joy of motherhood at Fasehun’s Besthope Hospital? His private hospital became a reference point for best practices in modern Chinese medicine in Africa.”
Obasanjo said he agreed to attend the event because the OPC President Aare Prince Osibote told him that his group is the reformed faction that is espousing the ideals of the late Fasheun.