March – Chief Olusegun Obasanjo declared on Saturday that he worked for both President Shagari and President Yar`Adua to succeed him and that he was ready to pay the supreme price if such would serve the best interest of the Nigerian dream
Obasanjo stated this in a speech entitled “The Nigerian Dream,’’ which he delivered in Abuja on Saturday at the PDP presidential campaign grand finale.
He said: “Our duties, responsibilities and obligations to our country as citizens, and indeed, as leaders must go side by side with our rights and demands.
“There must be certain values and virtues that must go concomitantly with our dream”.
Quoting the famous philosopher, Thomas Paine, the former president added: “my country is the world; for me my country, I hold dear.’’
He elaborated on his Nigerian dream, saying:“For me I see a Nigerian dream of land of unity in diversity, equal opportunity; land of freedom and choices .
“Land of prosperity, fairness, peace and justice, land of love, care and harmony among its people, land respected internationally and playing its rightful role within the comity of nations.
“And land where no one is oppressed, discriminated against, enslaved or disadvantaged.’’
Obasanjo recalled with nostalgia his post secondary-school era: “When I left secondary school in mid-50s, there was only one university in Nigeria. Today, there are 117 universities, a greatly enhanced opportunity which must be matched by accessibility and employment opportunity.
“This is an attainable dream and as a political party, we have dreamed and have set about actualising our Nigerian dream.’’
Referring to the PDP Constitution, he said that the party should be praised for being the only one which had enshrined the federal character, zoning and rotation in its constitution and in practice.
Obasanjo said: “I do not know who will be president of the country after Dr Goodluck Jonathan.
“But with PDP policy and practice, I can reasonably guess from where, in terms of section of the country the successor to Jonathan will come from and no internal democracy or competition will be destroyed.
“The recent resort to sentiments and emotions of religion and regionalism is self-serving, unpatriotic and mischievous, to say the least.
“It is also preying on a dangerous emotive issues that can ignite uncontrollable passion and can destabilise, if not destroy our country.
“This is being oblivious of the sacrifices others have made in the past for unity, stability and democracy in Nigeria in giving up their lives, shedding their blood, and in going to prison.’’
Obasanjo stated that he personally had been involved in the two scenarios, adding, “I am ready to do the third if it will serve the best interest of the Nigerian dream.’’
He recalled that on two occasions, he had had the opportunity to work for his successors to the country’s government and on both occasions, he “never took the easy and destabilising route of ethnic, regional or religious consideration.
“Rather, I took the enduring route of national, uniting and stabilising route.
“I worked for both President Shagari and President Yar`Adua to succeed me not just because they are Moslems, Northerners or Hausa-Fulani, but because they can strengthen the unity, stability and democracy in Nigeria.
“We incurred the displeasure of ethnic chauvinists for doing what was right for the country.
“That is the nature of leadership. A leader must lead, no matter whose ox is gored.’’ Obasanjo noted. (NAN)