- Reiterates readiness to sacrifice self for unity of Nigeria
By Kolawole Olayinka in Abeokuta
Former president Olusegun Obasanjo has eulogised the virtues of late radical lawyer and founder of the National Conscience Party (NCP), Chief Gani Fawehinmi, and declared that he was a genuine social critic.
Obasanjo made the declaration when the campaign train of the Presidential candidate of the National Conscience Party (NCP), Chief Martins Onovo, paid him a courtesy call at his Hilltop mansion in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
The former president, who was highly delighted about the visit emphasised that the late founder of NCP was “definitely a genuine social critic” notwithstanding the radical methods of his criticisms which on many occasions would not go down well with those being criticised.
Making a veil reference to constructive criticisms which he said are healthy for the nation’s development, Obasanjo stated that those averse to it, particularly public officials, should understand that both the critics and those being criticised are co-stakeholders in the Nigerian project.
Stressing that though one may not agree with all that the late radical lawyer would say “or how he went about it”, the former president charged all political office seekers on the platform of the NCP to uphold the integrity, genuine, critical, and committed analysis and criticisms left by late Fawehinmi in their quests to govern the country.
“Let me hasten to wish you every success in you endeavour and also pay tribute, as I have done in my recent book, to the founder of your party, Gani Fawehinmi, I believe he was a genuine social critic and I thought so. You may not agree with all he said or how he went about it but he was definitely a genuine social critic”
“If you, as the flagberarer of the party he founded believed that you should follow in his footstep of integrity and genuine critical analysis and committed analysis and criticism of the situation in the country, I think nobody will fault you”.
NCP presidential flagbearer Onovo had told the former president that his team were in his home to seek his blessings on the efforts which his party is making to govern the country.
Onovo stated that Nigeria at this point, “needs fundamental change not a superficial change and that is our point of views and that is why we decided to come and tell you about our mission in politics.
“We are very aware that you did a few critical things in government when you were there and some of those things we wish to continue when we get there, particularly the anti-corruption efforts. EFCC ICPC we intend to continue: we intend that when we get elected with your guidance, to improve their effectiveness in order to check losses to national revenue so that funds could be available to carry out vital developmental projects for the country.
“We are also aware according to Dr Oby Ezekwesili that you left about US $67 billion in the excess crude account and the Foreign Reserves. Unfortunately what we know now from the Debt Management Office (BMO) is that Nigeria is indebted to the tune of US $70 Billion, it is unfortunate.
“We also think that most Nigerians, over 78 per cent see the need for fundamental change and this is in line with all the different surveys carried out by different organisations in the country confirmed the same thing.
“So, democratically this is the right thing to do and we are hoping that with your blessing, that we can get into the office and sustain some of the developmental initiatives that you started like the National Independent Power Project (NIPP). Our position is consistent with the gas position that your administration adopted.”
Reacting to their position, Obasanjo maintained that he remained a card carrying member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as a politician and that his principal pre-occupation is to align with whatever that is best for the country.
“In this part of the world, we have a saying that if people sleep and they put their heads on the same pillow, they are in danger and that means there should be some people that should be critically looking and watching and also able to speak up when they should speak up.
“No matter what others may say because people may come up and say Nigerian doesn’t belong to anybody, I believe that is a stupid saying, Nigeria belong to all of us because anything that doesn’t belong to anybody, anything can happen it. For me Nigerian belongs to all of us and we are stakeholders in this country.
“Let me make my own position clear, I am a card carrying member of PDP because that is the party on which platform I became the president of this country.
“My first pre-occupation is what is best for Nigeria. Nigeria first, party second and any other thing third. Nigeria first means I’ll not sacrifice anything for the interest of Nigeria and I can sacrifice my own life for the interest of Nigeria, I can’t sacrifice my life for the interest of a party, I’ll sacrifice my life for the interest of Nigeria.
“If what you’re trying to do is in the best interest of Nigeria and Nigerians accepted and vote for you, who I am I not to accept you as President of Nigeria, I will. But what can I do in this your campaign to inform, woo and to convince the electorate but whatever may be the outcome of the election after you have done all that, once the election is free and fear and undisturbed, uninterrupted, then you have to accept the verdict of the people.”