By Akinwande Soji-Ojo
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said some of those aspiring to be Nigeria’s President in 2023 should be in jail had the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission(ICPC) and the judiciary performed their job effectively.
Obasanjo stated this on Saturday at an international symposium to mark his 85th birthday in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
Speaking during the event, themed, ‘Africa Narrative with Nigeria Situation’, Obasanjo said though many presidential hopefuls have visited him to solicit his support for their t ambition, he has not endorsed any aspirant.
“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 the names of three people from the South that I am sponsoring for Presidency in 2023.
“My friend, Professor Ango Abdullahi, 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 a situation 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,” he said.
He continued: “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 seemed 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 the substance of integrity, honesty, patriotism, commitment, outreach, courage, understanding of what makes a nation and what make 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.”
The former military head of state reiterated the need for peaceful co-existence in Nigeria.
According to him, fixing Nigeria must begin on the principles of nation-building, not necessarily on emotion, ethnicity or religion.
“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 the nation-building right,” he emphasised.
On the way forward, Obasanjo said all presidential aspirants must be “properly x-rayed and profiled from birth and Nigerians must be educated to be able to make a choice that will be in the national interest and propel Nigeria forward.”
“Such a person will have to lead what remains of the nation to courageously continue on the path of nation-building as a national team leader, no matter on what platform he or she assumes leadership. No one can do it alone. We must, however, stop sacrificing character, track records and performance on the altar of ethnic, regional or religious jingoism. As the watchman counts on daybreak, so too do I count on Nigerians and Nigeria to bring forth that person,” the former head of state said.