By Ola Ajayi
Ibadan—FORMER President Olusegun Obasanjo said yesterday that it was a form of pleasure to him when he was being insulted as a sitting president by his critics or perceived political opponents.
To show that he enjoyed the ‘fun’, he said all those published insults were kept in the archives at his presidential library.
He said, “If you visit the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library in Abeokuta, you will find thousands of archived newspaper comics and columns meant to spite and insult my person even as a sitting President. No individual or group of people was ever queried or jailed or repressed for expressing this freedom. Rather, I encouraged them because I derived fun and pleasure from the humour as I know who I am and nobody needs to tell me who and what I am not “.
He said this while presenting his keynote address at the first international conference of the African Studies Association of Africa, ASAA, entitled, “African Studies in the Twenty-First Century, Past, Present and Future” which held at the International Conference Centre of the University of Ibadan.
The elder statesman, who described himself as incurable optimist on a brighter future of Africa, reiterated that the continent will soon wriggle out of bad governance and corruption which seemed to be a syndrome in the continent.
He recalled the ugly past when Africans were used as slaves by colonialists.
Chief Obasanjo added that the inhumanity meted to the continent then formed the basis for the seeming backwardness being experienced at present saying, “the stain and stench of slave trade, the cold war, poor governance made some Africans to laud the good old days of colonialism, corruption and problem of human rights violations.
“In all these, I am delighted that the so-called great European historians who professed that Africa has no history lived to realise that African history and culture had impacts and ramifications on other parts of the world including theirs”, he said.
However, he was happy that all factors that militate against growth and development were no longer in vogue in the continent.
“The right to free speech, the right to express a different view point, the right to draw personal conclusions based on self-instituted research and to querry certain cultural practices and beliefs are part of the huge liberty that the continent of Africa now boasts of,” Obasanjo said.
Professor Akin Mabogunje who was the chairman of the event and other speakers aligned with Chief Obasanjo on the need to use our intellect to develop the continent.
Other notable people at the occasion included Professor Toyin Falola, a keynote speaker, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Professor Isaac Adewole was represented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration) , Professor EmilOlorun Aiyelari, the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) Professor Mrs Gbemisola Oke, the Director of the African Studies of the University of Ibadan, Professor Dele Layiwola, Professor Femi Osofisan, Dr. Sola Olorunfemi, Dr. Olaoluwa Shenayon and many others.