By Bashir Adefaka
LAGOS—FORMER Federal Commissioner for Works and Housing, Alhaji Lateef Okunnu, has advised former President Olusegun Obasanjo to behave like an elder statesman and not a sitting President.
Okunnu who served as commissioner during General Yakubu Gowon’s administration celebrated his 80th birthday penultimate Tuesday.
Okunnu also advised Obasanjo to stop dictating or harassing President Goodluck Jonathan either individually or through the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as he had served his terms as head of the country, saying “the best for him is to retire from active politics and become an elder statesman.”
Speaking with Vanguard yesterday on the planned 100 years celebration of modern Nigeria, he said it was ‘’pure nonsense for the government of the country to allow such celebration, which he said was ‘’100 years in bondage.’’
On Obasanjo, Okunnu said the advice was his birthday gift to him, saying, “Let me plead with General Obasanjo. He is no longer the president of this country. He should stop harassing successive presidents. Leave them alone.
“You have served your terms. You served, first as military head of state between 1976 and1979; three years and you served eight years as civilian president. Leave Jonathan alone to govern.
“Stop harassing him. Leave him alone to govern and retire gracefully as an elder statesman.
“That is my birthday advice to General Obasanjo. He’s my friend and I am giving this friendly advice to him. Retire from active politics and be an elder statesman. You have opportunities to advise the president at the Council of State.”
“Stop harassing him on the pages of newspapers or in PDP. Retire from active politics and be an elder statesman. That is the role which befits a former president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Also commenting further on the centenary celebrations, he said, that President Jonathan should have left the private sector who brought up the idea of the centenary celebration to handle it alone as, according to him, it is their own business and not the business of Nigerians as a people.
“Let me say this that it is absolutely idiotic for anyone to want to celebrate 100 years of bondage or to celebrate the occasion when we were under colonialism. You do not celebrate slavery! Independence, yes; the day Britain established its rule over the country now called Nigeria, No.. Capital NO. It is absolute nonsense for anyone to celebrate the day Nigeria came under colonialism. You do not.
“I have never heard of any country celebrating colonialism or the birth of colonialism. Away with it and I really hope that the government would have nothing to do with it. I have heard that the idea came from the private sector. If they want to celebrate the days the British entrepreneurs and the British traders came to Nigeria,that is their business. If they want to celebrate the Portuguese who came before the British, that is their business. But, to me, it’s absolute idiocy,” he said.