Ex-President: I will continue to fight for Nigeria’s unity
President Goodluck Jonathan Tuesday congratulated former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, on his 76th birthday anniversary, stating that Nigeria owes Obasanjo a debt of gratitude for the unity of the country.
But Obasanjo, who marked his 76th birthday in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, vowed to use his last drop of blood to preserve the unity and progress of Nigeria.
Jonathan in statement signed by his Special Adviser Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, said Nigeria owes Obasanjo an enduring debt of gratitude for giving himself to the cause of peace, stability, growth and development of the country.
The statement read: “On behalf of my family, the Government and people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and on my own behalf, I write to express warm felicitations to you on the occasion of your 76th birthday anniversary, which came up on March 5.
“Over the years, you have always readily given of yourself to the cause of the peace, stability, growth, and development of our country, Nigeria. For this, we owe you an enduring debt of gratitude.
“As you celebrate with family, friends and well-wishers I pray that Almighty God continues to guide, guard, and prosper you, even as He blesses you with many more years of robust health and abiding fulfilment,” Jonathan said.
Meanwhile, Obasanjo, who sang a popular Christian song “in our early days, when we use to sing: “Bo keyin kan lenu mi, maa sin Jesu dandan,” literally meaning: “If it remains one tooth in my mouth, I will worship and praise the Lord Jesus.”
He, however, modified the song saying: “Even if it remains the last breadth in me, I will work, preserve and promote the unity and progress of Nigeria, work for Africa development and indeed promote humanity.”
Obasanjo, who marked his 76th birthday alongside the presentation of prizes to winners of atrium competition, debate on human security in Africa by colleges and universities across the continent was full of gratitude to God for making him witness the day.
At the event, President Goodluck Jonathan, represented by his Chief of Staff, Chief Mike Oghiadomhe, corporate individuals, represented by oil and gas magnate, Mr. Femi Otedola, Mr. Jim Ovia, technocrats, academia, members of the diplomatic corps, the art community and traditional institutions, all described Obasanjo as a strong builder of modern Nigeria.
Others personalities, who graced the occasion include: former Head of Service, Mr. Steve Oronsaye, former Minister of Information, Prof. Dora Akunyili, Bucknor Akerele, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
While responding to a toast, after the launch of a book: “Olusegun Obasanjo-the Presidential Legacy (OOPL) 1999 to 2003,” the celebrant said at two different occasions in the past, opponents of either his person or project had walked up to apologise to him for past deeds in the past.
Obasanjo, who recalled how one of the critics of the OOPL came to apologise to him right within the Library complex, while he (Obasanjo) was in company of Professor Akin Mabogunje, said he had to oblige that, “the man, who was to hang me also to apologise to me.”
He said he did not have the patience to educate the man (whose name he did not mention), he however, added that Akinkugbe took time off to school the traducer and take his apology.
While recalling how he chaired the 70th birthday of Obasanjo in Abeokuta six years ago, the former Commonwealth Secretary-General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, said he obliged to write on the Obasanjo years from the perspective of foreign policy, “because I was there when he was an actor on the global platform.”
The former Secretary-General regaled the audience with scriptural knowledge by quoting from the Bible that God allowed man to live 120 years, therefore, stressing that he would be available to chair the 80th birthday of Obasanjo.
Anyaoku, who added that he would be 84 when Obasanjo would be 80 quoted Genesis 6 verse 3 to support his wish to attain the age of 120.
Also, in a toast to the celebrant, former Judge at the World Court in the Hagues, Bola Ajibola, said the image of Obasanjo he saw when the latter came to him to say he was going to the army was that of someone on a suicide mission and “I took pity on him,” recalling also how the Ota farmer was a flagship at the Baptist Boys High School, by virtue of being the Librarian.
Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, has died in hospital at the age of 58 after developing a severe respiratory infection during his battle with cancer, Vice-President Nicolas Maduro announced yesterday night.
A government spokesman had earlier said that the far-left leader, who has held control of the country for 19 years, was in a ‘very delicate’ condition in hospital. Details of Chavez’s health have been cloaked in mystery since he was first diagnosed with the disease in June 2011.
Venezuelan Communications Minister, Ernesto Villegas, earlier appeared on national television last night to announce that the president was suffering from ‘a new, severe infection’. It was learnt that Chavez, 58, had been undergoing ‘chemotherapy of strong impact,’ Villegas added.
The president has neither been seen nor heard from, except for a couple of hospital bed photos, since submitting to a fourth round of surgery in Cuba in December for an unspecified cancer in the pelvic area.
The government official said he returned home on February 18 and had been confined to Caracas’ military hospital since.
Villegas added that Chavez was “standing by Christ and life conscious of the difficulties he faces.”
He called on Chavez’s supporters, who include thousands of well-armed militias, to be ‘on a war footing’.
The president’s death is expected to trigger a snap election, though the opposition has argued that it should have been held after Chavez was unable to be sworn in on January 10.
Chavez has run Venezuela for more than 14 years as a virtual one-man show, gradually placing all state institutions under his personal control. But the former army paratroops officer who rose to fame with a failed 1992 coup, never groomed a successor with his force of personality.
He was last re-elected last October, and his challenger, Henrique Capriles, the youthful governor of Miranda State, is expected to be the opposition’s candidate again.
One of Chavez’s three daughters, Maria Gabriela, earlier expressed thanks to well-wishers via her Twitter account, saying: “We will prevail!” she wrote, echoing a favourite phrase of her father, ‘With God always’.
There had been speculation that Chavez’s cancer has spread to his lungs. Maduro had last week said the president had begun receiving chemotherapy around the end of January. Doctors said such therapy was not necessarily to try to beat Chavez’s cancer into remission but could have been palliative, to extend Chavez’s life and ease his suffering.
While in Cuba, the late president suffered a severe respiratory infection that nearly killed him. A tracheal tube was inserted then and government officials said his breathing remained laboured.