James Ogunnaike, Abeokuta
Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, on Saturday, disclosed that one of the mistakes he made in life was the choice of his ‘number two’ when he wanted to become the nation’s president in 1999.
Obasanjo made the disclosure while answering questions posed to him by students from selected secondary schools that participated in the final of the National Exhibition and Awards, organised by Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship (SAGE).
The event, which took place at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta, Ogun State, featured presentations and exhibitions of some products made by students of the participating schools.
Obasanjo said he had many mistakes, which he can described as genuine mistakes in his life, but God made him to overcome.
According to him, “One of the mistakes I made was picking my ‘number two’ when I wanted to become the president. But because it was a genuine mistake, God saved me.
“The second one was when Abacha wanted to arrest me. When Abacha wanted to arrest me, I was told by the American Ambassador that they will arrest me and that America has asked that I should be given an asylum.
“I said no. It could have been a mistake because I could have lost my life.
“I will say there are many things that could have been a mistake, but God saved me from them all.”
Youths and leadership
While speaking on opportunities for the youths to take over the mantle of leadership in the country, Obasanjo said youths can never come into power if the current trend continues.
He said even with the “Not Too Young to Run” campaign, you can see that those that are contesting now are between 70 and 80 years old. How can the youths run?
“Another thing inhibiting youth from running is the amount of money involved in going into politics. I hope that things should not continue like this.
“I was 39 years old when I became the Military Head of State. Twenty years later, I came back as civilian president.
“But those there now do not want to allow the youths. If things continue like this, I do not know how you can come in.”
The former president also challenged the students to imbibe religious tolerance, advising them not to see their own religion as superior to that of another person.
Obasanjo said: “I have no right to say what another man believes in is inferior to mine.
“If God had wanted all of us to be of the same religion, he would have made it so and since He did not make it so, no person should attempt to make it so.
“Young people should learn at a very early in life that if there are five religions in the world, that is how God wants it to be. If there are 10 that is how God wants it. All religions originate from the same source.
“If you are a Muslim and you did not live the way the God wants you to live, you cannot enter Aljannah.
“If you are a Christian and you did not live the way God wants you to live, the same thing, you will not enter paradise.
“I do not believe that any religion is superior to mine and I don’t believe that mine is superior to another person’s beliefs.
“I will not allow any person to cast aspersions to my religion and will not do same for another person. Practice your religion the way God wants you to do it and don’t condemn another person.”
Welcoming participants at the event, the Chairman of SAGE Nigeria, Agwu Amogu, said the programme, was to celebrate the creative energies and commitments of teen entrepreneurs who see the challenges in the communities as their responsibilities.
He said, “SAGE is an acronym for Students for the ‘Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship’.
“It is an international programme initiated at the California State University, Chico, USA, in 2002 and currently operational in over 32 countries across all the continents of the world.
“It offers secondary school aged young people a hands-on learning process on how to create wealth, help others and their communities.”
Amigu said since the introduction of the e in Nigeria in 2006, it had shown that it is a potent strategy and model for educational reform, youth re-orientation, job creation and poverty alleviation and multi-cultural integration
According to him, Nigeria urgently needs a new paradigm for education.
“The new paradigm must provide students with a chance to learn while solving community problems and immediately applying what they have learnt in the classroom by actually doing something great.”
The SAGE chairman said winners of this year’s competition, would represent Nigeria in the SAGE World Competition holding in Netherlands in August, 2022.