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I made mistake when picking running mate – Obasanjo

Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, on Saturday, said he made two mistakes which included the choice of his number two ahead of 1999 presidential election.

Obasanjo said the second mistake was his refusal to accept an asylum when he was told that the late Head of State, Sani  Abacha, wanted to arrest him, the action, he said could have led to his death.

Obasanjo became democratically elected President in 1999 while the current presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, was his Vice President.

The former President, who did not mention Atiku in his statement, said it was a mistake he made in good faith, but, was saved by God.

He reminisced on his life and achievements both as the military Head of State and as a civilian President, Obasanjo stated this while answering 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.

The event held at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta, Ogun State, featured presentations and exhibitions of some products made by students of the participating schools.

The former president while interacting with the students during a questions and answers session, said he had many mistakes, which he could describe as genuine mistakes in his life but God made him to overcome.

He said, “One of the mistakes I made was picking my number two when I wanted to become the President. But because it was a genuine mistake, God saved me.

“The second one was when Abacha wanted to arrest me. When Abacha wanted to arrest me, I was told by the American ambassador that they would arrest me and that America had 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.”

While speaking on opportunities for the youth to take over the mantle of leadership in the country, Obasanjo said the youth would never come into power, if the current trend continued.

He said, “With the “Not Too Young to Run” campaign, you can see that those that are contesting now are between 70 and 80 years old; how can the youth run?

He said, “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 youth. If things continue like this, I do not know how you can come in.”

The former President also tutored the students that they should imbibe religious tolerance, advising them not to see their own religion as superior to that of another person.

Obasanjo said, “I have no right to say what another man’s belief 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 stage in life that if there are five religions in the world, that is how God wants it to be. If there are 10, 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, it is doing the right thing for the benefits of mankind; you don’t have to condemn any person because of what he believed.”

Obasanjo endorsed Atiku in 2019, must be joking – Support Group

Reacting to Obasanjo’s claim that he made a mistake in the choice of his number two person, the National Publicity Secretary, Atiku Support Organisation, Dr Victor Moses, said the former President must have been joking.

According to him, Obasanjo cannot turn around to say he regretted his decision to choose Atiku as running mate.

Moses said, “Chief Obasanjo is fond of doing a lot of things. Sometimes, he can say things in the form of a joke and people may take it seriously and some may laugh over it.

“Don’t forget that in 2019, he endorsed Atiku for President, stating that he had forgiven him for all the misunderstanding that might have existed between them.”

Also reacting, Atiku’s Media Adviser, Paul Ibe, sent a video of Obasanjo endorsing Atiku in 2019 on WhatsApp with a statement, “In former President Obasanjo’s own words. Review what he said about his then Vice President. Does it look like an indictment or regret? You be the judge.

“What he said in the video was and is still valid. What he said in the video is our response. It does not sound like regret. He was paying eulogies to his then Vice President for meritorious service to him and the nation, urging that he be elevated to higher responsibilities on account of his sterling service.”

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