Former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday called on Nigerians to pray fervently for the country, so that despite its multifarious challenges, it would not “sink like the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has sunk.”
Obasanjo, who spoke in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, stated that it was unbelievable that the PDP, which at one point in time controlled 30 out of the 36 states, is now a shadow of itself and prayed that Nigeria would never get to that level.
He spoke at a ceremony, where 40 different African traditional drums were displayed in his honour as part of activities to mark his 80th birthday.
The colourful event, which was organised by the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilisation (CBAAC), a department of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, took place at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL).
The occasion had earlier witnessed an international symposium on “Purpose and Utilitarian Values of Presidential Libraries.”Obasanjo, who left the PDP about two years ago after publicly destroying his membership card, told the crowd at the event that it was strange that a party that once controlled 30 out of the 36 states in the country “is now a shadow of itself” due to reconcilable differences.
The former President, who was responding to a remark by the ex-PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Ahmadu Ali, said he was glad that as national chairman, Ali ensured stability and effectiveness in the party.
According to him: “When all was going well, when I brought Ahmadu Ali as the national chairman of the party, we controlled 30 out of the 36 states, but when Ahmadu and I left, the fortune of the PDP sunk.”
He described Ali as a man of truth, hardworking and courageous.“My prayer is, may the fortune of Nigeria never sink like that of the PDP,” he restated.
Speaking earlier at an international symposium organised as part of activities to mark his birthday, the United Nations Ambassador, Mr. Andrew Young, described Obasanjo as a man of peace, saying: “I don’t think there is any man that has made much contribution to Africa than Obasanjo.”
He noted that the Obasanjo Presidential Library would make people to understand his (Obasanjo’s) work as a President and also his leadership qualities.
Young said: “It is time for Nigeria to realise and make amendments where it is lagging behind. “There is no human being in Africa that has experienced what Obasanjo has gone through in the last 50 years.”
Daughter of former American President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Tracy, in her remark, maintained that the Presidential Library is a place meant to bring together the memories of the past Presidents of a country and their works.
She said the library is a gift Obasanjo left to share the memories of his past with his people.“There are 14 Presidential Libraries in the United States, but the first Presidential Library in Africa was created by Obasanjo in Abeokuta.”
Former Permanent Delegate of Kenya to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Ambassador Mary Khimulu, who spoke on ‘Presidential Libraries: A Catalyst for Youth Development,’ said the library was not for Nigeria alone, but all Africa, saying: “This is a landmark that should be emulated by all Africans.”
She said the library would help the youth to know the way of the former President and learn from them. It would also help in the development of Nigeria’s democracy.All those who spoke at the occasion commended Obasanjo’s leadership qualities and love for Nigeria and Africa as a whole.
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