Barely a month after former President Olusegun Obasanjo was quoted as having thrown his weight behind the election of a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction, he has disowned such a comment, saying it was not what he said.
Some media outlets had reported Obasanjo’s comment as a call for an Igbo presidency in 2019.
But in a recent interview with journalists, Obasanjo clarified that he only made a passing analogy between the marginalisation of the people of the Southeast and indigenes of Ogun West Senatorial District.
The former president explained that he told a group of visiting Christian leaders some weeks ago that he would like to see an end to apparent marginalisation of people he mentioned, but did not say it must happen in 2019 —or 2023.
“You people say whatever you want to say,” Obasanjo told journalists who met him in Abeokuta as part of the activities marking his 80th birthday.
Insisting he did not make such a call, he said: “Look, Christian Association of Nigeria, Ogun State chapter, came to see me here. They asked me to brief them on the situation in Southern Kaduna.
“I have been briefed by Bishop Matthew Kukah who comes from that area. I have been briefed by General Martin-Luther Agwai who comes from that area. I gave them my own understanding of that issue.
“I told them the Southern Kaduna issue is both historical, cultural, religious and political. So if you now want to resolve the issue, you have to take all these issues together.
“And I said the problem is when we fail to attend to something the time we’re supposed to attend to it and then it boomerangs on our face, then we don’t have anybody to blame. I said, here in Ogun State, we have a bit of Southern Kaduna problem. I said since Ogun State was created, we have had four elected governors.”
Meanwhile, he said he established the presidential library to correct his past mistakes
He spoke yesterday at an international symposium organised by the Centre of Human Security, an arm of the OOPL, as part of activities marking his 80th birthday.
He urged the youth not to be limited by their status, noting that if he could achieve greatness despite his poor background, they too can achieve great feats in life.