A former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu, on Thursday admitted thatÂ former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, re-shaped his life positively.
He spoke atÂ Obasanjoâ€™s 78th birthday lecture held at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library in Abeokuta, Ogun State, after Obasanjo caught him unawares, asking him to make a speech.
Â â€śYou trapped me innocently with a great wisdom of a 78-year-old,â€ť Mr. Tinubu said. â€śIâ€™m honoured to be here and many of you will see this as a rare occasion but this is an opportunity to pay tribute to a nationalist, a teacher, a disciplinarian and a tutor in dignity and boldness.
â€śYes, it is true, there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies in politics,â€ť he said. â€śWhat is common is common interest. Once upon a time, some nine years ago, I went to the (Aso Rock) Villa, the President, Olusegun Obasanjo, asked me to walk out and was just abusing me in the papers and I said, â€śBaba, you are a tenant here. This house belongs to Nigeria. If I get to Ota, you can send me out. I brought file about Nigeria.â€ť
And he said, â€śThat is true, sit down.â€ť
â€śIf I could tell you several events that occurred between the two of us in the interest of the nation, I would write an epistle but today is not for that,â€ť Mr. Tinubu said. â€śBut how do you celebrate truly and honour a man who has kept you on your toes? Between Baba Olusegun Obasanjo and myself, what I can say is gratitude from me because you kept me on my toes.
â€śEach time we disagree on things of principle, I took him to court. One time, as the President, he saw me and said, â€śYou took me to court. We canâ€™t be friends after the court.â€ť And I told him, â€śI didnâ€™t take you to court, I took the Nigeria President to court.â€ť And he said, â€śGet out of my wayâ€ť and I told him, I wouldnâ€™t get out of the way until I get what I want.â€ť
â€śâ€¦When we started this present regime of merger and alliances and we visited him, we told him we wanted him to be a navigator,â€ť Mr. Tinubu narrated. â€śHe said, â€śNavigator? I am still in my party. I will try to avoid partisanship because of Nigeria. If you people put up a good team for the sake of this country, I will give you wisdom.â€ť
â€śAnd if you look at what has been happening since then, Obasanjo is an open book, you read a line, you pick a paragraph, you learn, you comply. If you drink from that fountain of wisdom, you will see value in it. He is very committed to the Nigerian nation.
â€śAs we were talking few minutes ago, I said Nigeria is the giant of Africa and he said, â€śI hope you will remove the k-leg.â€ť I said, â€śThe elephantiasis would be killed.â€ť He said by what and I said by the APC.â€ť
Mr. Tinubu praised Mr. Obasanjo for quitting the PDP by publicly tearing up his membership card.
â€śIt wasnâ€™t about anything else, it was about the love of our country, patriotism, putting the country first before self,â€ť he said. â€śThereâ€™s nothing Obasanjo would have wanted in terms of material wealth, oil well, oil lifting â€“ whatever from (President Goodluck Jonathan) that he wouldnâ€™t have gotten or what from PDP that he wouldnâ€™t have gotten as a retention service.
â€śHe put all of that aside, believed in the unity, cohesion, and progress of this country in order to free himself from that bondage of commitment to partisan politics that is probably drifting in the middle of the storm of a political change. He would rather be afloat and chart a new course.â€ť
Speaking at the event, Mr. Obasanjo warned against toying with loyalty to the country in the interest of its developmental growth.
â€śLoyalty and relationship must be guided and controlled by what is true, what is right and what is in the best interest of the majority,â€ť he said.