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How coronavirus forced me to shift my birthday celebration, by Obasanjo

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• Abiodun, Okowa greet ex-President at 83
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday said the outbreak of coronavirus forced him to readjust his 83rd birthday celebration.

The former President spoke at a Symposium organised by the Centre for Human Security and Dialogue, an affiliate of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

Obasanjo disclosed that he had to shelve programmes slated for his birthday celebration as a result of coronavirus outbreak in Nigeria.

He said a policy round-table and the formal presentation of a book titled, “The Asian Aspiration” authored by Greg Mills, Obasanjo and others earlier scheduled to hold between March 3 and 4 was shifted.

Consequently, former African leaders, including former President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson- Sirleaf, her Sierra Leonean counterpart, Ernest Bai Koroma and former Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalgn who were earlier scheduled to deliver keynote addresses to commemorate Obasanjo’s birthday were absent the outbreak of coronavirus.

“When we were thinking if this celebration, two programmes came to mind. One was to see what Asian countries have done to make the continent what it has become. For instance, Malaysia, which was worse than this when we got independence, South Korea, which was below us and Vietnam which was plunged into series of wars.

“We would have spent Tuesday and Wednesday to consider how the Asians have risen to greatness. And what lessons we could learn from them, but because of coronavirus the programme was shelved. Some of them were not able to make it,” Obasanjo said.

Addressing guests, including Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, former Ambassador of Nigeria to the United Kingdom (UK), Christopher Kolade, Florence Ita-Giwa, professors Peter Okebukola and Akin Mobogunje, among others, Obsanjo said the programmes were supposed to discuss how Nigeria could adopt the development model of the Asian Tigers.

Besides, Abiodun described Obasanjo as a rare phenomenon and a special breed.

He stated this in a birthday statement to the former president, signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin.

While congratulating the elder statesman for playing his role as a leader and as model of patriotism, he noted that he (Obasanjo) would be favourably remembered by posterity, adding, “He could only have been divinely inspired to undertake all the daunting trips.”

Meanwhile, Delta Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has congratulated Obasanjo on his 83rd birthday anniversary, saying the former president’s contributions to the peace and unity of Nigeria would remain laudable and for remaining an immutable voice in the affairs of the nation.

In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Olisa Ifeajika, the governor also revered Obasanjo for his patriotic and unrelenting service to the country.

He stated that Nigeria recorded the best economic reforms during the administration of former President Obasanjo, adding that he revolutionised the banking and telecommunication sectors through consolidation, pension reforms and the Global System for Mobile Telecommunications (GSM).


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