Picking Atiku As Running Mate In 1999 My Mistake — Obasanjo

  • Says God saved me from Gen Abacha

BY SEGUN ADBADEYO – Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has described the choice of his ‘number two’ when seeking the nation’s presidency in 1999 as one of the huge mistakes he made in life.

According to him, “One of the mistakes I made was picking my ‘number two’ when I wanted to become the president. But because it was a genuine mistake, God saved me.

Clearly referring to Atiku Abubakar, who was his Vice President between 1999 and 2007, Chief Obasanjo said though he made many mistakes, which can be described as genuine missteps in life, God graciously helped him overcome them.

He made the submission while engaging students from selected secondary schools at the final of the National Exhibition and Awards, organised by Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship (SAGE).

The former President, who did not expatiate on the issue of selecting my ‘number two’, said his second mistake was when late General Sani Abacha wanted to arrest him.

“When Abacha wanted to arrest me, I was told by the American Ambassador that they will arrest me and that America has asked that I should be given asylum.

“I said no. It could have been a serious mistake because I could have lost my life. I will say there are many things that could have been a mistake, but God saved me from them all”, the man popularly called the Ota farmer said.

Also commenting on youths and leadership issues in the country, Chief Obasanjo said there are huge opportunities for the youths to take over the mantle of leadership in the country, but noted that it would be impossible for the youths to come into power if the current trend of negative energy being exhibited continues.

He said even with the “Not Too Young to Run” campaign, you can see that those that are contesting now are between 70 and 80 years old. How can the youths run?

“Another thing inhibiting youth from running is the amount of money involved in going into politics. I hope that things should not continue like this.

“I was 39 years old when I became the Military Head of State. Twenty years later, I came back as a civilian president. But the people there now, do not want to allow the youths. If things continue like this, I do not know how you can come in.”

Challenging the students to imbibe religious tolerance and shun seeing their own religion as superior to that of another person, the former President said: “I have no right to say what another man believes in is inferior to mine.

“If God had wanted all of us to be of the same religion, he would have made it so and since He did not make it so, no person should attempt to make it so.

“Young people should learn very early in life that if there are five religions in the world, that is how God wants it to be. If there are 10 that is how God wants it. All religions originate from the same source.

“If you are a Muslim and you did not live the way God wants you to live, you cannot enter Aljannah. If you are a Christian and you do not live the way God wants you to live, it is the same thing, you will not enter paradise.”

Seriously hammering on religious tolerance, Chief Obasanjo maintained thus; “I do not believe that any religion is superior to mine and I don’t believe that mine is superior to another person’s beliefs.

“I will not allow any person to cast aspersions on my religion and will not do same for another person. Practice your religion the way God wants you to do it and don’t condemn another person.”

Earlier in his remarks, the Chairman of SAGE Nigeria, Agwu Amogu, said the programme aimed at celebrating the creative energies and commitments of teen entrepreneurs who see the challenges in the communities as their responsibilities.

He told participants at the event that SAGE as an acronym means “Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship”, explaining further that; “It is an international programme initiated at the California State University, Chico, USA, in 2002 and is currently operational in over 32 countries across all the continents of the world.

“It offers secondary school-aged young people a hands-on learning process on how to create wealth, help others and their communities.”

He said since 2006 when it was introduced in Nigeria, SAGE has proved to be a potent strategy and model for educational reform, youth re-orientation, job creation and poverty alleviation and multi-cultural integration

Noting that Nigeria urgently needs a new paradigm for education, SAGE boss said; “The new paradigm must provide students with a chance to learn while solving community problems and immediately applying what they have learnt in the classroom by actually doing something great.”

He disclosed that winners of this year’s competition would represent Nigeria at the SAGE World Competition slated for the Netherlands in August 2022.

The SAGE event, which took place at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, featured presentations and exhibitions of some products made by students of the participating schools.

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