Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said the presidential hopeful of the
Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar will be a president for all Nigerians not at all like the officeholder President Muhammadu Buhari. He additionally said that as a president, he never set out on a 104-day medicinal get-away.
He added that the Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, was a better leader than Buhari.
Obasanjo, while taking a swipe at those who said he did not trust Atiku during his tenure, said no Nigerian vice-president acted in the stead of his principal more than the PDP candidate.
He spoke on Wednesday at the Lagos Island Club Quarterly Business Lecture, where he was a guest speaker. Atiku also delivered an address at the event.
The former President said Atiku presided over several Federal Executive Council meetings during his administration from 1999 to 2007.
Obasanjo said many did not notice because he was not like Buhari who went on medical vacation for 104 days and appointed “Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo as acting President.”
He said, “One of the most ridiculous claims I have heard on these issues is that I did not give Atiku chance to preside over the Federal Executive Council because I did not trust him.
“That is not correct because he had occasions to preside on a few times that I was out of the country. On those occasions he was in charge of the Federal Executive Council meetings and no Nigerian chief executive has devolved power to his deputy as much as I did to Atiku.
“I did not need to designate him acting President because the constitution is clear; once the President is not available, the vice-president automatically acts with full powers.
“But since I was not absent from home for 104 days at a time, people may not know that Atiku actually stood in for me whenever I was out (of the country).
“You have a man who has what it takes in experience, exposure, lessons that he has learnt and he has learnt his lessons. You have a man who has what it takes at this time for us to have a change and we need a change for the better.”
Obasanjo added that the country was divided because Buhari said only those who voted for him would enjoy government’s patronage.
The former President noted that the difference between Atiku and the incumbent President would be that the former vice-president would be president for all Nigerians and not just for those who voted for him alone.
“Atiku has done one thing which is necessary for a leader to be believed or followed. He made mistakes and accepted his mistakes and asked for forgiveness. I forgave and I am sure Nigerians will do their part by voting for him. A leader should be susceptible to mistakes. When you have corruption under your nose and you are busy preaching against corruption. Atiku had not claimed to be a saint and I did not describe him as such. He has accepted his mistakes and that is what a good leader should do and not look for someone to pass the bulk to.
“I have been called names because of my position on Atiku Abubakar, the Waziri Adamawa. Everything I have said as far as I have knowledge of Atiku, I have not retracted and I stand firmly by them because they are to the best of my knowledge true. And neither has what I have said and written about Buhari been controverted. If anything, they have been confirmed and proved beyond any shadow of doubt.
“But Atiku has done three things which are absolutely imperative for a leader. First, know who you are and present yourself as you are – a human being in blood and flesh and susceptible to human mistakes and human frailties. Don’t cover up with sanctimonious veneer of bogus integrity, goodness and false figures and statistics, all of which are contrived to deceive and to destroy,” he added.
Atiku, while criticising Buhari for the suspension of the President of the National Judicial Council, Justice Walter Onnoghen, promised to resolve the economic challenges of the country.
He lamented that more than 21 million Nigerians, mostly youths, were without jobs, blaming the problem on the present government.
Atiku said, “The lesson we all learn from the success stories of countries such as South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, and People’s Republic of China is that economic development does not happen by accident. Their experience teaches that to be successful, economic reforms require a progressive and forward-looking government that has the capacity to craft a coherent vision and to develop coherent policies that will actualise its vision.
“I have faith in the capacity of Nigeria to make a quantum leap from third world to first. We have the human and material resources required to make the leap.”