Journalism of Courage

Obasanjo celebrates 85 years, calls some presidential aspirants scoundrels who should be in jail

Noting that some of the aspirants for the 2023 presidency have failed the integrity test, Obasanjo said they should be languishing in jail if the EFCC and the ICPC had done their job well.



Incensed by the guts of some notable politicians to be parading themselves as presidential aspirants, former President Olusegun Obasanjo has branded some of them as people who lack integrity for the office of the nation’s president.

Noting that some of the aspirants for the 2023 presidency have failed the integrity test, Obasanjo said they should be languishing in jail if the EFCC and the ICPC had done their job well.

Speaking at an event marking his 85th birthday in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital on Saturday, Obasanjo remarked: “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.”

Obasanjo also said: “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.

“Nigerians have a lot to learn from the events of the last almost twenty-four years and that God is not to blame if they 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.”

The former president said federal character, rotation of power and other measures are meant to help nation-building process.

“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.”

According to him, from personal experience and clinical observation, there is no substitute for steady and uncompromised process of nation-building.

He stressed: “Nigeria had had in some notable examples in the past that have stood us in good stead.

“Voting Shehu Shagari into power in 1979 with Alex Ekwueme from “Biafra” as No. 2 in 1979 less than ten years after attempted cessation by ‘Biafra” was in the process of nation-building.

“It took the United States of America, USA and other countries that had gone through such wars decades before they could achieve that feat after their civil wars.


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“Sustaining the declaration of the victory of Shagari by the National Electoral Commission when Shagari had majority of votes and clear one-third of votes cast in 12 states as against six states by Obafemi Awolowo which was also sustained and certified by the court and endorsed foe implementation by our military administration was also part of the process of our nation- building,” the one-time military leader said.

Obasanjo said he had been “at the giving end and at the receiving end” of contribution to the nation-building process and that he knew that if Nigerians derail from nation-building process with solid principles, Nigeria would be shipwrecked.

“I will, at this juncture, leave it to fair-minded Nigerians, who believe in the continuation of the process of nation-building, to decide which way Nigeria should go.

“When we have adequately taken care of nation-building measures especially management of our unity and taken care of every anomalous situation and performance or lack of it, that have put us in political, security, economic and solid quagmire situations that we find ourselves, then we must zero on personalities.

“I have always maintained that if we look hard widely and fairly and we bring objectivity, national interest and patriotism to bear and which must be spiced with equity, integrity, performance, then no region or zone should claim to have monopoly of Nigerians that can lead us along the path of nation-building on the basis of justice, fast economic development, inclusive growth, shared value and our rightful place in the global division of labour and decision making process.

“If we are going fault finding, zonally or regionally, no region or zone can claim absolute innocence. And federal character is a very important and perfect instrument of nation-building in our Constitution,” he stressed.



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