By Adeniyi Olakunle
The Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo said the destiny of former President Olusegun Obasanjo is intricately tied to history of Nigeria describing him as a world stateman and an authentic African icon.
Osinbajo said the destiny of Obasanjo can not be divorced from Nigerian’s history from independence to civil war, becoming the Head of State, handing over to civil rule and being twice elected as President of Nigeria and then handed over to another President.
The Acting President said this in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital during the grand opening of the multi billion Naira Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library.
The OOPL project which was conceived as a centre that is aimed at preserving the past, capturing the present, inspiring the future and promoting tourism had its ground breaking in 2005.
Osinbajo said that not many people have the opportunity of making history and writing it in life, as done by Obasanjo, who had the rare opportunity of administering the country, as a military head of state and two time democratically elected president.
He noted that experience is only the best teacher for a fool, while history is a compassionate teacher.
Osinbajo said the Library would be a resource centre where younger generations would not only go to learn from what they see and hear, but what is unsaid.
The acting president submitted thay Obasanjo had is place in the political history of Nigeria at every crucial moment.
“Very few human beings have a chance of making history and fewer still have a good fortune history and writing it. Baba Olusegun Obasanjo is certainly one of those rare human beings.
“There are at least two advantages to writing history. The most serious advantage is that, it is one sure way of preserving the lessons, the failures and the successes of the past and we can approach the future with more sure-footedness and less pains.
“History is the most compassionate teacher. At some point in time, we were told in an adage that experience is the best teacher, but now, we know it is only half of a well wise saying.
“The full statement of that adage is that experience is the best teacher for a fool. A wise man doesn’t need the pain of experience, history is a kinder and a more compassionate teacher.
“President Olusegun Obasanjo is therefore a gift in various ways. His destiny is intricately tied to the history of Nigeria from independence to civil war, becoming the Head of State, handing over to civil rule and being twice elected as President of Nigeria and then handed over to another President.
“His enduring legacy will be his believe in one strong, detribalised Nigeria and this is so evidence in the gatherings of Nigerians here today. He also believe in words and in practice that Africa united in vision and thoughts again, that Pan-Africanist vision is evident in the large gathering of African serving and former Heads of governments here present.
“But we diminish his vision if we do not recognize his place as a world-stateman even that is evident from the representatives of the world that are present here today.
“I am privilege to be here to celebrate in this Library someone who has given and continuing giving, an authentic African icon, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo,” he said.
Osinbajo noted that Nigerians should emulate Obasanjo in selfless service to the country and to humanity, as “our place in the history of our society is not what we take from it but what we manage to give it, the more selfless the giving, the more historic.”
The Chairperson, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and President of Sierra Leone, Allen Johnson -Sirleaf, who chaired the occasion said the establishment of the Presidential Library by former president Obasanjo, is precedence that must be emulated by other African leaders.
Sirleaf recalled that the first Presidential Library was dedicated by the 22nd President of United State, Franklin Roosevelt, in 1941, and commended Obasanjo for the initiative in establishing the first presidential library in Africa.
She said that such libraries would avail the governments to preserve records of their past for future generation.
“History will bear truth to this precedence setting occasion in Africa. This will be a long legacy for successful retiring presidents to record and preserve the history of nation building for prosperity and for the benefit of today and future generations.
“For example, many may recall that it was President Franklin Roosevelt, the 22nd President of the USA in 1941 dedicated the first Presidential Library in America.
“You (Obasanjo) is inspired by the examples of President Jimmy Carter with whom you share the vision of preserving the record of the past for future purposes.
“We take pride that this is our own history,made and record and also presented to us through this structure.
“A nation must believe in three things: the past, future and in the capacity of the people,” she said.
Obasanjo in his welcome address said the establishment of the Library was a culmination and fulfillment of ambition which started in 1988.
He said that he embarked on the project in which he was not such of its end.
Obasanjo appreciated all those who contributed immensely in making the project a reality.
Facilities within the library complex include a museum, a wildlife park,senior citizen centre, Youth Development Centre, Green Legacy Resort, Senior Citizens Centre among others.
The Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, in his remarks said the library, modelled after the American Presidential library, would be a veritable source of intellectual materials for the socio- political development of both Nigeria and the African continent.
“This complex has grown beyond the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library to a community of its own class where life is not only enriched but a centre of attraction for socio-economic, spiritual, educational and all-round human development.”
African Presidents at event included Ernest Koroma (Sierra-Leone), Patrice Talon (Benin Republic), Faure Gnassingbe (Togo), and Prime Minister of Kenya, Raila Odinga.
Former heads of state and presidents include Goodluck Jonathan (Nigeria), General Abdulsalami Abubakar (Nigeria), Pierre Buyoya (Burundi), Joyce Banda (Malawi), Nicephore Soglo (Benin Republic), Boni Yayi (Benin Republic), John Kuffour (Ghana), William Mkapa (Tanzania).
Other eminent personalities that attended are Prince Michael of Kent, who represented the Queen of England, former Secretary-General of United Nations, Kofi Annan, and former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Emeka Anyaoku, former Vice President Namadi Sambo, Aliko Dangote, Femi Otedola and Jim Ovia.
Governors present are Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Akinwunmi Ambode (Lagos), Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom), and Aminu Bello Masari (Katsina).
Former governors in attendance are Bola Tinubu, Sule Lamido, Godswill Akpabio, Olusegun Osoba, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Adebayo Alao-Akala, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, Ali Modu Sheriff, Rotimi Amaechi, Gbenga Daniel, Liyel Imoke, Donald Duke, Segun Oni, Emmanuel Uduaghan, and Niyi Adebayo.
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