Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has listed his choice of running mate in 1999 as a part of the mistakes of his life. His running mate then, who eventually became his Vice President was Atiku Abubakar, the candidate of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in next year’s presidential election.
He also said his decision to remain in Nigeria which paved way for his arrest and incarceration by the Gen. Sani Abacha military regime could have been a mistake, because he was fore warned.
The former President said, “One of the mistakes I made was picking my Number Two (referring to Atiku) when I wanted to become the President. But because it was a genuine mistake, God saved me.
The second one (mistake) 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”.
He made the disclosure weekend at an event, held at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL). The event featured youths.
Obasanjo was responding to questions, posed 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 former President lamented the current trend of money politics and recycling of old politicians in elective positions, stressing that young Nigerians would not have chance to exhibit themselves if the trends continues.
He said with the “Not Too Young to Run” campaign, and 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.”
Obasanjo, also a scholar of Religious Studies warned against intolerance and extremism in religion.
“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 get in life that if there are five religions in the world, that is how God wants it to be. If there are ten, 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.
“If this is the basis of religion is doing the right thing for the benefits of mankind, you don’t have to condemn any person because of what he believed.
“I do not believe that any religion is superior to mine and I don 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 participant 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 program initiated at the California State University Chico USA in 2002 and currently operational in over 32 countries across all the continents of the world.