• Thursday, June 20, 2024
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BusinessDay

2023: Most presidential aspirants running around now should be in jail – Obasanjo

Obasanjo assures of success as Intra-African Trade moved to Cairo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has declared that most politicians, who aspire to be the next Nigeria’s president in 2023 are supposed to be in jail by now if the nation’s anti-graft agencies backed by the judiciary were not deficient and inactive in their jobs and operations.

Obasanjo, who delivered a speech, tagged, “Africa Narrative with Nigeria Situation” at the International Symposium organised to mark his 85th birthday in Abeokuta, Ogun state capital on Saturday, said majority of the presidential aspirants so far declared or running around the country in order to garner electorate’s votes are fallen short of character, integrity and patriotism required to govern the country.

The former president made this statement barely a week after he had received Atiku Abubakar, ex-vice president and the leading presidential aspirant in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to his abode on the Hilton Towers of Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) in Abeokuta.

Read also:2023: Bala Mohammed in Abeokuta to consult Obasanjo over presidential ambition

BusinessDay recalls that Obasanjo’s statement is also coming some weeks after Ahmed Bola Tinubu, former Lagos state governor and the leading aspirant in the All Progressives Congress (APC) declared his presidential ambition with subsequent tours of palaces of some chiefs and paramount rulers in Southwest.

Obasanjo, while advising Nigerians to be wary of corrupt, nepotic, unpatriotic and incompetent presidential aspirant as next president, requested Nigerian electorate to choose educated and competent politician with track records and performance, whose personality and character could be x-rayed and profiled from birth, and not to choose president on the altar of ethnic, regional or religious jingoism.

He said, “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 the 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 situations 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 civil society.

Read also: Obasanjo: A living legend – Abiodun
“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 percent of the 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.

“Since 1999, we have changed from one political party or another we have manoeuvred and manipulated to the point that election results are no longer reflections of the will of the people and we seem to be progressively going back rather than going forward politically, economically and socially. We have activities without requite actions and personnel to move us forward.

“If we continue in the same pattern of recycling, sweet-word campaigning, manoeuvring without substance of integrity, honesty, patriotism, commitment, outreach, courage, understanding of what makes a nation and what makes for development, we will soon have to say goodbye to Nigeria as a nation.

“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 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.

“Federal character, rotation and such other measures are meant to help our nation-building process and more sure-footedly, move Nigeria forward, but 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 a 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.”