Tinubu, Oyegun, Agwai, others grace Obasanjo’s 78th birthday
• Nigeria needs good governance, says celebrant
EMINENT personalities within and outside the country yesterday graced the 78th birthday of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Those in attendance cut across political divides.
All Progressives Congress (APC) National Leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the party’s National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun were part of the crowd, which also attracted representatives from the African Union (AU). Former Chief of Army Staff Martin Luther Agwai was also there to deliver a lecture.
The occasion, which held at the main auditorium of the Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta was without banters between the celebrant, Tinubu and Oyegun who served under Obasanjo’s military regime in 1979.
The occasion also served as a forum to recall the political disagreements between Obasanjo and Tinubu during Obasanjo’s regime between 1999 and 2007, which resulted in the Federal Government withholding the monthly statutory allocation of Lagos State. Tinubu was then the Lagos State Governor.
Tinubu in his impromptu speech was the first to recall the incident, which generated bad blood between the duo.
His words, “About nine years ago (time of the feud), I went to Aso Rock (seat of the President) and he (Obasanjo) ordered me out but I told him that, he was just a tenant in the Villa and he could only send me out if I came to his personal house in Ota.”
Tinubu added, “And in response he told me I was right and he attended to me.”
Tinubu again recalled to the applause of the large crowd “There was another time when we met (himself and Obasanjo) and he queried me why
I took him to court and I told him, I didn’t take him to court but it was Nigeria’s president that I took to court.
Continuing, Tinubu said, “Yes, it is true, there are no permanent friends of permanent enemies in politics, what is common is common interest.
Once upon a time, some nine years ago, I went to the Villa, the President Olusegun Obasanjo asked me to walk out and was just abusing me in the papers and I said, ‘Baba, you are tenant here, this house belong to Nigeria, if I get to Ota, you can send me out, I brought file about Nigeria’ and he said, ‘that is true, sit down.”
“But how do you celebrate, truly and honour a man who has kept you on your toes, no matter what you are between Baba Olusegun Obasanjo and myself, what I can say is a gratitude for me because you keep me on my toes.
“Each time we disagreed on things, principles, I took him to court: one time as the President and he saw me and said, ‘you took me to court, we can’t be friends after the court’ and I told him, I didn’t take you to court, I took Nigeria President to court’ and he said, ‘get of my way’ and I told him, ‘I wouldn’t get of the way until I get what I want.”
Oyegun also recalled how, out of office as military Head of State, “Obasanjo came to my house one day with a mat and told me that he had a pending application at his Ministry in which I was the Permanent Secretary and that he would sleep in my house till it is attended to.”
Obasanjo in his speech insisted that “Until Nigeria gets its leadership right, all things will continue to go wrong. Loyalty and relationship must be guided and controlled by what is true, what is right and what is in the best interest of the majority, and I believe that some of the things you (speakers) have been saying refers to that.”
The former President added, “Loyalty to Nigeria should not be undermined by anything except the truth, what is right and what is in the best interest of this great country of ours, may God continue to bless Nigeria.”
He told the crowd, “We have listened to two beautiful lectures, for me, have been very instructive and I have not been disappointed by either of the presenters.”
“But you have seen that they haven’t presented us with magic as solutions to our problems and there’s nothing they have told us that is impossible but all they have said boils down to one thing and one thing only, leadership and until we get it right, anytime we do not get it right, we cannot get any other thing right, don’t let us deceive ourselves,” he affirmed.
According to him, “Whether it is security, science and technology or innovation or the development of the economy of education, they all boil down to leadership, and at all levels, may God give us the leadership that we deserve in Nigeria. Because when we have that, we will get there.”
His words, “I am an incurable optimist about this country, and may be because I have seen in a little bit in my short span of life, of what is possible and a little bit of what can go wrong and what can be made to go wrong, may be that is why I am incurable optimists and I believe that all will be well in this country, we have no choice anyway, all has to be well.
We are about 180 million now, our brothers and sisters in West Africa are worried, and when they talk to me and I asked them why they are worried, they said, ‘if half a million Nigerians go to Republic of Benin, we will overwhelm them, if 2 million go to Ghana the same thing.”
“My concern is that we have too many think-thank, we need more of ‘do-thanks’, the point is we can do and we have no reason why we can’t do and we have also see that one individual can make a difference. There is no reason why any Nigerian child, at this point time should not have a basic education, food and nutrition, not only Nigeria child, any Nigeria should not go to bed without food, we have the resources to achieve all that, that we are not achieving,” Obasanjo stated.
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