In the 2023 New Year message signed by the former President and made available to newsmen by his aide, Kehinde Akinyemi, Obasanjo described Obi as his mentee and said the former Anambra State governor had an edge in the 2023 elections.
Obasanjo said, “None of the contestants is a saint but when one compares their character, antecedent, their understanding, knowledge, discipline, and vitality that they can bring to bear and the great efforts required to stay focused on the job, particularly looking at where the country is today and with the experience on the job that I personally had, Peter Obi as a mentee has an edge.
“Others like all of us have what they can collectively contribute to the new dispensation to liberation, restoration and salvaging of Nigeria.
“One other important point to make about Peter is that he is a needle with thread attached to it from North and South and he may not get lost.
“In other words, he has people who can pull his ears, if and when necessary. He has a young and able running mate with a clean track record of achievement both in public and private life.”
The letter partly read, “I am constrained to write this letter to all Nigerians especially young Nigerians, friends of Nigeria globally as well as our development partners because of the gravity, responsibility and implications of the collective decision Nigerians, both young and old, will be making within the next two months.
“The last seven and a half years have no doubt been eventful and stressful years for many Nigerians. We have moved from frying pan to fire and from mountain top to the valley.
“Our leaders have done their best, but their best had turned out to be not the best for Nigeria and Nigerians at home and abroad. For most Nigerians, it was hell on earth.
“Those of us who are alive should thank God for His mercies, brace ourselves for the remaining few months of this administration and pray and work very hard for an immediate better future – future of liberation, restoration and great hope and expectation.
“We have had campaigners going up and down the country feeding us with what they mean and what they do not mean, what they understand and what they do not fully understand, what is possible and what is not possible, what is realistic and what is unrealistic, what is true and what is untrue. I believe that we need not be confused nor be gullible. Let us be cautious, not to be fooled again.
“I have interacted with the major contestants and I find it interesting that, in one form or the other, each of them claims to want to do what I did during my Presidency and to take Nigeria back to where it was at the height of my Presidency and immediately after.
“I was pained that most of them do not realise that the Nigeria of today had been dragged down well below Nigeria of the beginning of my Presidency in June 1999.
“Although at that time, Nigeria was in very bad shape and was tottering on the verge of collapse and break-up. Even then, Nigeria was not faced with the level of pervasive and mind-numbing insecurity, rudderless leadership, buoyed by mismanagement of diversity and pervasive corruption, bad economic policies resulting in extremes of poverty and massive unemployment and galloping inflation”.
“For these reasons, I kept pointing out to them that the instruments used in 1999 to 2007 and methodology used will grossly be inadequate for the perilous situation we now find ourselves.
“Without prejudice but with greatest respect to each individual with utmost regard for the best for Nigeria and all Nigerians and from my personal experience, all the major contestants claim to be my mentees. I will not deny such positions since I have worked with all of them directly and indirectly in government.
“I have come to realise a number of factors in character, attributes and attitude that are necessary in the job of directing the affairs of Nigeria successfully and at a time like this. These characteristics or attributes are many but let us be mindful of some key ones together.
“From interaction and experience, and as mentees as most of them claim, I will, without prejudice, fear or ill-will, make bold to say that there are four major factors to watch out for in a leader you will consider to hoist on yourself and on the rest of Nigerians in the coming election and they are what I call TVCP: Track record of ability and performance; Vision that is authentic, honest and realistic; Character and attributes of a lady and a gentleman who are children of God and obedient to God; and Physical and mental capability with soundness of mind as it is a very taxing and tasking assignment at the best of times and more so, it is at the most difficult time that we are.”
“Let me say straight away that ‘Emi Lokan’ (My turn) and ‘I have paid my dues’ are one and the same thing and are wrong attitude and mentality for the leadership of Nigeria now. They cannot form the new pedestal to reinvent and to invest in a new Nigeria based on an All-Nigeria Government for the liberation and restoration of Nigeria. Such a government must have representation from all sectors of our national life – public, private, civil society, professional, labour, employers, and the diaspora.
“The solution should be in ‘we’ and ‘us’ and not in ‘me’ and ‘I’.
“Mind you, I reiterate that no human being is an angel let alone a Messiah, but there are elements of these attributes and on comparative basis and by measure of what we know of, and what some of us have experienced from the front-runners, we must assess judiciously and choose wisely.
“If anybody claims he or she has anything to the contrary, it will be up to him or her to prove to us.
“I pray not to be proved right again in the bad sense but rather to be proved right in the positive and glorious sense of Nigeria becoming what God had created it to be – a land of plenty and prosperity united for common purpose of inclusive society, common security, shared prosperity, equity, egalitarianism, justice, and equal stake in the Project Nigeria with leadership role of Nigeria for the black race and fair share of global division of labour.
“One ridiculous point that has been touted to justify unjustifiable appointments and selections is ‘competence’. In truth and in reality, genuine competence can be found in any region or section of Nigeria through track record and performance if only people will honestly and sincerely look hard for people with such attainment and attribute. Most of us in good conscience can testify to competence when we see any anywhere. What is masqueraded as ‘competence’ is self-interest and nepotism.
“We have a unique opportunity to correct ourselves by ourselves for the good of ourselves. Those who are preaching division, segregation, separation, and want to use diversity for their own self and selfish interest are enemies of the nation, no matter what else they may disguisedly profess or proclaim.”
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