Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday, in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, said the God who helped Nigeria to ease out the dreaded government of General Sani Abacha will come to the aid of Nigerians in 2019.
Speaking at a town hall meeting held at the Amusement Park, Agbowo, Ibadan, where the Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM) members converged, he urged youths and indeed all Nigerians not to be tired because they have a lot of work to do to effect change of government through the ballot.
In a veiled allusion, the present government, which he said insists on re-election, Obasanjo said: “Some people believe that those that are in position, whether they are doing well or not, they must continue be there. But when we say they must not only be there, they will want to fight back. They will hold many things to wreak havoc, but everybody must be prepared. It will not be easy to wrest powers from them. If you think it will be easy to liberate Nigeria, you are deceiving yourself.
“But the God that did it yesterday will do it again today. Remember a particular leader who had a desire to transmit from military uniform to elected president.
“We had a situation that we had five political parties and the five parties nominated one person as candidate for presidency. If only his nuclear family had voted for him, he would have won.
“But our God is wonderful. God laughed. Now, God is laughing. When the time came, God revealed that He’s God. He is the omnipotent, omnipresent and eternal, who can do all things and who can make all things possible. But if we are leaving things to God, we have to do our own side,” he said.
On how to make real change in governance, Obasanjo said: “The work has started. Some people may be laughing at you and make jest of you, don’t be bothered with that. Listen, permanent voter’s cards (PVCs) are your instruments. If you have not collected yours, go and collect it. If you are not yet registered, go and register. Let us tell them in all urban and rural areas that PVCs are what we will use. They are the key to open the doors.
“Don’t be afraid or be discouraged; they will try to intimidate you individually or collectively. For me, I don’t think there is anyone that can intimidate me. Let me remind you, I have gone through many things. I have been jailed without being given any opportunity of offence. Where is the person that jailed me?”
He said CNM can only achieve its objectives by transforming, and being part of whatever it is as a political party. “I just want to join in assuring you that the philosophy of what we have is CNM, and what it will transform to will not be different.
“We have not had a political party in this country that is grounded in the grassroots. All our political parties are elitist. We have not got a party in this country that has given a pride of place to the youth.
“The youths under 40 years old form more than 65 per cent of our population. Now, who will tell you that because you are under 40 years old, you cannot play a very significant role in the affairs of your country?
“I was Head of State when I was under 40. Now, France has elected a president that is under 40 years old. Botswana has just got a Vice President that is 32 years old. Now, what we are saying is that the youth must be given a pride of place. In all organs of CNM as a movement or a party that it will transform into, 30 per cent will be youths, and 30 per cent will be women. Women form 52 per cent of our population.
“I want to repeat what I have always said and don’t get me wrong; once this movement becomes a political party, I will no longer be a member of that party. But my concerns for Nigeria will not diminish. My struggle for the good of Nigeria progress of Nigeria, unity of Nigeria, development of Nigeria will not diminish. Even now, I get people from other parties, coming to me to seek advice. I don’t belong to them. I don’t have anything to do with them, but I give them advice. So, that situation will continue. I will continue to look for the good of Nigeria wherever I am and whenever.
“The CNM, even when it becomes a political party, or it joins others, it cannot do it alone. There would have to be a grand alliance. But let me assure you of one thing, having got this far, I will not leave you high and dry, and I know God will continue to be with us. But don’t ever think that it will be easy. Men of valour don’t run away from challenges and it is the same thing with women of honour, except lazy men and women. But they said our youths are lazy.
“Recently, I was in the United States and I said our youths have gone through many things on the Sahara, in Libya and Mediterranean, and somebody would say they are lazy; their great great grandfathers would never try to go that far.
“The opportunities and facilities that people like us enjoyed, including those that said it should not be like that, if we give these youths half of what we enjoyed, they will perform miracles. Education is the best gift that a nation can give to its youths. It is the best gift and preparation for life. Are we doing enough of that?”
•Text (excluding headline) courtesy of Sunday Telegraph.