Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has revealed why he will continue to speak out on national issues, even when others opt to keep quiet or he is viewed as confrontational.
Obasanjo, who spoke on a wide range of issues in an exclusive interview with New Telegraph at his Abeokuta, Ogun State residence, said he believes that it is a sin punishable by God for him to see something that is wrong and not being able to condemn it.
“What will be my benefit from government for me to see something that is wrong and not be able to say this is wrong? For me, it is a sin punishable by God. And if I come to tell you this is not right and you give explanation towards that, I might understand,” he said.
The former president, who queried why he should sing praises of anybody, added: “I am not a General to keep quiet. I am a General for what I believe is the best for Nigeria, humanity and what I believe God would want us to do.”
On perception in some quarters that he has been confrontational with almost all his successors, particularly ex-President Goodluck Jonathan and incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, Obasanjo said his interventions are motivated by his love for Nigeria.
His words: “I won’t call it confrontation; I won’t call it taking on. Again, I will thank God for the perspective He has given me and as I have said to you now, again, without been immodest, there is nobody who have the kind of outreach I’ve had and the type of experience that I’ve had… Like I have told you, I learn in every situation. Even in prison, I called the 419 boys to come and teach me their tactics, just to learn. I think I love Nigeria and humanity and my experience has shown me what is possible.
“Okay, what you call confrontation; let’s take somebody like former President Jonathan. He came and I even threw every caution over board because after I nominated him to Umar Yar’Adua and he accepted and when he (Yar’Adua) died, I thought this was an opportunity for the minority. Of course, you all know that there was that feeling in the North that ‘our man’ has not completed his term. He won that election and, suddenly, he started something that was outrageous to me.
“He started speaking and calling Ijaw nation. I had to go to him and ask: ‘What is this Ijaw nation nonsense?’ I said if you take the Hausa/Fulani as one unit, they may be larger than Yoruba, but if you separate Hausa/Fulani, the Yoruba will be the largest tribe in Nigeria. I asked him if he ever heard me talk of the Yoruba nation. What he did was nonsense. Now, if I go to him to say that, is that confrontation? I said to him: ‘What is the population of the Ijaw? It was not only the Ijaw that voted you into power; it is the whole Nigeria. It’s Nigeria nation and not Ijaw nation,’ but he didn’t listen. But if you call that confrontation, it is up to you. But for me, it is not.”
On his disagreement with Buhari despite supporting him in his first term, Obasanjo said: “For what reason should President Buhari try to monopolise the security within a particular group and then he captured the judiciary and legislature, the electoral commission captured and the impunity and incompetence, taking security not too seriously and you are expecting me to keep quiet?”
On the 2019 presidential election, he said: “When you talk about the last election; the last election is gone. It wasn’t an election but a declaration. There was an election, but the result was not the true result as far as I am concerned.”
Asked whether his position means that the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, defeated President Buhari, Obasanjo averred: “That was not what they declared, but I believe that was what happened. This is not the first time we would have that. We had it in the case of MKO Abiola too.