Joseph Bakare/Yemisi Izuora
The presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar for the 2019 presidential election, has continued to garner more endorsements even from his former foes, which is becoming a nightmare to incumbent president Muhammadu Buhari.
The latest endorsement and perhaps the least expected is coming from Atiku’s erstwhile boss, former president Olusegun Obasanjo who had been Atiku’s critic after they parted ways following disagreements over political interests while he Atiku was vice president under Obasanjo.
Atiku received the blessings of his former foe, when he visited Obasanjo to seek his consent over his presidential ambition.
Text Of Remarks
By Chief Olusegun Obasanjo
On The Visit of PDP Presidential Candidate, Atiku Abubakar, to Abeokuta, October 11, 2018
I am happy to welcome the distinguished leaders of goodwill who have led the PDP Presidential Candidate and my former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, to my humble abode and I welcome the Presidential Candidate himself.
Let me start by congratulating President-to-be, Atiku Abubakar, for his success at the recent PDP Primary and I took note of his gracious remarks in his acceptance speech that it all started here.
Yes, when it started, it was meant for Atiku to succeed Obasanjo. In the presence of these distinguished leaders of goodwill today, let me say it openly that we have reviewed what went wrong on the side of Atiku. And in all honesty, my former Vice-President has re-discovered and re-positioned himself. As I have repeatedly said, it is not so much what you did against me that was the issue but what you did against the Party, the Government and the country.
I took the stand I had taken based on the character and attributes you exhibited in the position you found yourself. I strongly believe that I was right. It was in the overall interest of everyone and everything to take such a position.
From what transpired in the last couple of hours or so, you have shown remorse; you have asked for forgiveness and you have indicated that you have learnt some good lessons and you will mend fences and make amends as necessary and as desirable.
Whenever or wherever you might have offended me, as a Christian who asks for God’s forgiveness of my sins and inadequacies on daily basis, I forgive and I sincerely advise you to learn from the past and do what is right and it will be well with you. Obviously, you have mended fences with the Party and fully reconciled with the Party. That’s why today, you are the Presidential Candidate of the Party. In addition to appreciating all that the Party has done for you, may I advise you to work together with all those who contested for the Party’s flag with you as a team for your campaign.
There are still areas, nationally and internationally, where you have to mend fences and make amends. You will know how to handle what is already out and what may yet be put out by the opposition. But, I am convinced that if you continue with the attitude that brought you here with these distinguished leaders of goodwill, with remorse and contrite heart, the rest of the coast within and outside the country can be cleared. And if there is anything I can do and you want me to do in that respect, I will do.
I am sure with the right attitude for change where necessary, and by putting lessons learned by you to work, you will get the understanding, cooperation, support and mandate – all at the national level. With Nigerians voting for you, it will mean that you secure their forgiveness and regain their confidence. It will be with the hope or assurance of a Paul on the road to Damascus Conversion. After all, change and conversion are of man. I believe that with a contrite heart, change is possible in everybody’s life and situation.
For me, relatively and of all the aspirants in the PDP, you have the widest and greatest exposure, experience, outreach and possibly the best machinery and preparation for seeing the tough and likely dirty campaign ahead through. From what I personally know of you, you have capacity to perform better than the incumbent. You surely understand the economy better; you have business experience, which can make your administration business-friendly and boost the economy and provide jobs.
You have better outreach nationally and internationally and that can translate to better management of foreign affairs. You are more accessible and less inflexible and more open to all parts of the country in many ways. As Pastor Bakare, one-time running mate of the incumbent President said, “You are a wazobia man.” And that should help you in confronting the confrontable and shunning nepotism.
As you know, along the road to where you are today, many leaders and ordinary people cooperated and overtly and covertly worked hard. On your behalf, I thank them all. May their coast continue to be expanded. And when you become Nigerian President which, insha-Allah, you will be, remember what we did together in government – we ran an administration by Nigerians for all Nigerians where merit and performance count more than blood relationship, friendship or kith and kin. Although some time and ground have been lost, you should endeavour to start from where we stopped and recover some lost ground, if not time.
Please uphold truth, integrity, principles, morality and fight corruption, crimes and insurgency. The fundamental law of the land, our constitution must be scrupulously defended. I make one demand and one demand on you today, I need you to say before God and man that you will always remain irrevocably committed to upholding ALL the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the whole country will remain your single indivisible constituency.
Constitutionalism, popular participation and inclusiveness are pre-conditions for reversing the deficits of the past three and half years. They will ensure abiding faith in our indivisibility, oneness and faith in the survival of all against none.
The fundamentals for our development, economic growth and progress are hard and soft infrastructure. Remember to always give adequate places in your administration to our youth and women.
All the authorities involved with the preparation, all processes and conduct of the election must ensure that the election is free, fair and credible.
Once again, congratulations and I wish you well. My distinguished brothers and leaders of goodwill, thank you for making this happen. I will now count on you to encourage all hands to be on the deck to take Nigeria to the level God has created it to be – autopilot level.
God bless you all and God bless Nigeria.
But in a swift jittery reaction, the presidency says, Obasanjo is heaping curses on himself for endorsing Atiku.
According to President Muhammadu Buhari Campaign Organisation on Thursday, former President Olusegun Obasanjo is heaping God’s curse on himself for endorsing the candidacy of his former vice, Atiku Abubakar, after the former president had said few weeks ago that God would not forgive him if he should support Atiku for president.
Obasanjo had recently said “God will never forgive me if I support Atiku for President.”
But On Thursday, Obasanjo said he would support the presidential ambition of Atiku and that he had forgiven him.
A statement issued by Festus Keyamo, Director, Strategic Communications, President Muhammadu Buhari Campaign Organisation, said just a few weeks ago, specifically on the 4th of August, 2018, Obasanjo was widely reported to have said “God will NEVER forgive me if I support Atiku for President”.
“Whilst we acknowledge the constitutional right of the ex-president to support anyone of his choice, we draw attention of all God-fearing Nigerians to a character who would use the name of God in vain and in a flip-flop manner in just a matter of weeks. Where is the shame? Where is the honour? Where is the pride?
“When a person invokes the curse of God upon himself if he does a particular thing, like Obasanjo has done, and then deliberately does that particularly thing and calls on Nigerians to follow him to receive his curse, Nigerians must flee in the opposite direction. We urge Nigerians NOT to follow this character to receive the curse he invoked upon himself. We are also constrained to ask Chief Obasanjo about his Coalition For Better Nigeria, otherwise known as Third Force. We hope it is doing well.
“We also note with interest the full participation of some “men of God” in the entourage of the Peoples’ Democratic Party for this political re-alignment. We are glad that they have publicly declared their partisan interest and urge all Nigerians to see all their previous, present and future attacks on President Buhari from their pulpits in the context of partisan politics and not in the context of nationalistic or altruistic commitment. We wish them well,” the organisation said.
The organisation said it was inclined to dismiss this gathering and “endorsement” of Atiku as a complete non-event, but noted that it felt it had a responsibility to Nigerians to remind them of the character and antecedents of these individuals, lest they take Nigerians for granted and see all of them as fools.
“We do not intend to dwell on all the unprintable things touching on the lack of character, lack of integrity and corruptibility of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar that Chief Obasanjo has repeatedly and consistently told the whole world about up until few weeks ago. These are well-documented and circulated for Nigerians to remember.
“However, we are bemused and amused that a character who intends to be President of Nigeria has, for the past eleven years, consistently begged for “forgiveness” from a man who has consistently and unequivocally called him a very corrupt fellow. We wonder what type of character would not vigorously confront his accuser with facts to show his innocence, but would rather consistently ask for “forgiveness” from him,” it said.
The PMB Campaign Organisation added that the desperation to get the endorsement of Obasanjo by the PDP and its candidate was a clear sign that they wanted to return the nation to her sordid past where a few people decided who should govern the country.
It said “In 2014/2015, President Muhammadu Buhari and his team, out of respect and convention, paid courtesy calls on prominent individuals and statesmen in the course of their campaigns when they visited cities in which these individuals lived. However, Nigerians should note that President Buhari was never reported to have groveled and “begged” Anyone for forgiveness, just to be endorsed as a Presidential candidate. Ultimately, he relied on the people of Nigeria to decide his fate. President Buhari would continue to rely on the endorsement of the people of Nigeria to be re-elected.”
The organisation said it saw the gathering as a confederate of desperate power-mongers and questionable characters who wished to return the nation to the era of unbridled corruption, saying it was significant that the meeting was held in a building which had become the symbol of corruption of the Obasanjo years, where a sitting President collected monies from known government hangers-on and contractors to build a “Presidential Library” in clear violation of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers.
“We hope President Obasanjo would one day return Governor Ayo Fayose’s Ten Million Naira to that building as Fayose has requested. It is a significant reminder of the difference between the past and the present. Nigerians would soon be called upon to choose between returning us to the era of corrupt Presidents and their deputies or continuing on this path of transp
The Presidency has dismissed the endorsement given by former President Olusegun Obasanjo to his former lieutenant, Atiku Abubakar as a non-event, saying it was least surprised by Obasanjo’s somersault and U-turn.
In a statement, the President’s SSA media, Garba Shehu said the endorsement in Abeokuta at a press conference was a well-rehearsed theatre.
“They will lose together. Listening to the prepared statement of the former President after the meeting showed the usual ego trip and “I know it all” character of Chief Obasanjo”, Shehu said.
“In the first place, we dare to say that a pompous statement from the former President advising Nigerians on a vote against President Buhari is the best recommendation that can come at this time.
“It also betrayed a lack of understanding of today’s politics which is about good governance.
“The country voted for change in 2015 and a leader that ensures good governance which only President Buhari and the APC can provide.
“Bent on these laudable goals, we will not allow ourselves to be distracted.
“We are busy on various national issues including the restructuring and the diversification of the economy, fighting corruption, terrorism and other threats to national security; increasing the availability of electric power, improving education, health, and providing long-delayed infrastructure – roads, rail, airports and so forth.
“Many governments have come and gone, but they did not care about some of these projects.
“We were talking about these things for sixteen years under the PDP and nothing was done.
“President Buhari is proud of his record because his achievements are verifiable, while that of the PDP is manifested by the devastating social and economic impact of large scale corruption during their governance.
“The President will not relent in the war against corruption because the ordinary people are the ultimate victims if we surrender to corruption and let its perpetrators go unpunished.
“Abandoning the war against corruption is not an option. President Buhari is in this battle against graft because he cannot allow a few, rapacious, and selfish class of the elite to divert the resources meant for the well-being of the ordinary people to their private pockets.
“Nigerians trust President Buhari in this effort because they are convinced he is not in government for personal financial benefits, or for an ego trip. It is just eleven years ago that the former President and Vice President in their ugly fight for power accused each other of corruption. Nigerians are yet to forget all that”.