God allows Nigeria get away with “stupid things” – Obasanjo

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From left: Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, Musikilu Mojeed, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, an unidentified guest and former Boss of FIRS, Mrs Omoigui Okaru after the public presentation of THE LETTERMAN in Abuja on Thursday.

A former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, said Nigeria kept getting away with a lot of “stupid things” because of the love of God.

He said the country should blame itself for failing to use the resources given to it by God.

Obasanjo spoke during the official launch of The Letterman by the Editor-in-Chief of Premium Times, Musikilu Mojeed, on Thursday in Abuja.

The 492-page narrative non-fiction entitled: “The Letterman: Inside the ‘Secret’ Letters of former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo”, x-rays the role of letter writing in leadership, governance and politics.

It focuses on the former president and his fondness for speaking bluntly to subordinates, superiors, associates and foreign personalities – through letters – not minding the reactions the letters might generate.

Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, Mr Musikilu Mojeed and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo

Obasanjo said: “I believe that God is a Nigerian. Bishop Kukah may not agree with me. Because God loves us so much that we have done so many stupid things and he allowed us to get away with these stupid things.

“I sincerely hope that God’s patience has no limit of elasticity because if he does, there will soon be a day that God will say: ‘No, I have heard enough.’ And if God says he has heard enough it doesn’t matter, Musikilu can write 20 books on Lettermen and Letter women, it won’t help us.

“I believe the right lessons must be learnt. We have all that we need to have. God has given us all that we need to have; that we are not doing what we should do. It is not God; we should blame ourselves.”

He lamented that the country had not lived up to expectation.

According to him, global leaders consulted with Nigeria before decisions were taken in Africa, wondering how the country fell from such lofty height.

He said: “We probably don’t appreciate what we have as a country and I believe if we do appreciate it, make good use of it, we will do better than we are now.

“I have sent for an interview with the only remaining member of what they call the 12 disciples in the foreign service; that’s the 12 Nigerians who first joined the foreign service before our independence, Amb Adefuye is the only remaining one.

“In that interview, he said that when Nigeria became independent it was a giant in the sun. That was the expectation; not a giant even in Africa. A giant in the sun. That was the expectation of the world about Nigeria.

“Have we lived up to it? No. If we have not, why haven’t we? And it is not so far to seek.

“Somebody talked about Jimmy Carter visiting Nigeria. Of course he did visit Nigeria but before he visited Nigeria we were struggling with America, something they call constructive engagement with South Africa. What can be constructive with apartheid?

‘’We said no we don’t accept that. Kessinger said he was coming to Nigeria three times and three times I said I will not receive him. You may say that’s madness. Yes, there is a touch of madness but you have to do what is right.

“There was this election coming. It was Ford and Jimmy Carter. If Ford won the election, I would have to do acrobatics. I would not be able to say America cannot come to Nigeria for four years. Before the election, we started looking for who was in the camp of Jimmy Carter and we found Andy Young before the election and when the election took place, Cater won.

“Within two weeks of him being sworn in, Andy Young came to us. We became very close with Andy Young to the extent that the Carter administration will not do anything in Africa without informing us. People ask me: how did we lose that? How did we lose it?”

Former President Goodluck Jonathan said Obasanjo would be remembered for debt forgiveness, the creation of anti-corruption agencies and international interventions across Africa.

Jonathan, who was represented by former Minister of Aviation, Osita Chidoka, said history would remember the former president for the great things he did, not the quarrels and the fights.

“Obasanjo is not as stupid as he looks,” Jonathan said.

He stated that there had been ample letters that had changed history.

The former President said Obasanjo’s letters created engagements within the political arena, diplomatic world and other sectors.

Jonathan commended the author for the work he had done in bringing the letters together in a single book.

The book reviewer, Bishop Matthew Kukah, said Obasanjo had made it hard for writers to write about him.

According to Kukah, Obasanjo developed an obsession with writing his own story.

He said the former President wrote everything about himself.

Kukah said it was hard to write about the former President because he had written about every part of his life.

The cleric said the former president elevated the act of letter writing to an art form.

He said the book covered 25 letters covering different issues.

The author said Obasanjo’s appearance at the event was a surprise as he did not acknowledge the letter that was written to invite him.

He said although many said the former President did not like journalists, he had maintained a decent relationship with him.

Mojeed described how Obasanjo sometimes got angry at questions he asked and interviews he conducted.

He said Obasanjo never gave him access to the letters.

He said it was completely unauthorised work.

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