By Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Despite strong criticism of some controversial decisions he took as Nigerian leader, former President Olusegun Obasanjo Friday in Kaiama, Bayelsa State, said he was not remorseful over any decisions he took while in office.
Obasanjo, who also inaugurated several projects to mark the sixth year anniversary of the Governor Seriake Dickson-led administration, noted that though he was not perfect as a leader, he nevertheless did his best for the country, given the time and resources available.
Aside his controversial third term agenda, which he has repeatedly denied, Obasanjo ordered the military invasion of Odi, in Kolokuma/Opokuma local government, which led to the levelling of the whole community, following the killing of security operatives by militants from the region.
Addressing students of the Ijaw National Academy, a free tuition, free boarding secondary school, the former President argued that all decisions he took were informed by the information at his disposal at the time, maintaining that many times, some aides also had habit of blocking leaders from seeing the real picture of things their domain.
“What is it I didn’t do in office that I now want to do? Do what you can defend before God, man and conscience. With the knowledge, resources and facilities that I had, there is nothing that I did not do. None.
“If I had more resources, then I think I would have done differently, but with what I had and the resources at my disposal, l would say no, I did all that is humanly possible when I was President. I was not perfect, only God is. Also bear in mind that people you work with will make sure you don’t see all things. If that happens, who do you blame?
“Some of them will do everything. What is important is that you must not have regret. I do not have any regret about things I did when I was in government or in any leadership position I have held. No regret,” the former President said.
Obasanjo who conducted the official opening of the Aquaculture village, the Glory Drive, named after him, the Specialist Hospital, the Bayelsa Diagnostics Centre, the Drug Distribution Centre, part of which was dedicated to the memory late Professor Dora Akunyili had earlier visited the Bayelsa state Traditional Rulers Council led by King Alfred Diette-Spiff.
He argued that despite all the theories on leadership in the books, what he has found most useful was his own belief that the “fear of God” trounces them all.
“If you are a leader that fears God, the chances are that you will be good. If you do not fear God, forget it. A leader has to have knowledge, be a team worker. They are very important. You must fear God”, he added.
He suggested that the younger generation should be accommodated in the nation’s political leadership because “although they are future leaders, tomorrow might not come.
“We have to make allowance for them where we have to make allowance for them but we must make provision for them. We must make accommodation for them because they are not only the leaders of tomorrow.
“Their leadership must start from today because if we leave them only till tomorrow, they will be left waiting for tomorrow that may never come. Today, must be their time; let us accommodate them, let us make room for them, let us carry them along”, Obasanjo advised.
He, however expressed hope in the future of the country, stressing that “By now, I would have committed suicide if there is no hope in the future of Nigeria”
On insecurity, Obasanjo who was uncharacteristically restrained in answering many of the questions put to him insisted that one of the things Nigeria needed to achieve and do well to be stable was the issue of security.
He lauded Governor Dickson on ensuring relative peace and security in Bayelsa, stressing that he was shocked by the rapid transformation which the governor had brought to bear on the state within six years.
The former leader urged other states in the country to emulate and understudy Dickson to find out how he achieved the feat.
“One of the things that struck me about your (Dickson’s) administration is the relative peace that you have maintained in the state. I do not know how you have done it; maybe we should all come to learn under your tutelage.
“This is so because one of the things we need to do and do well today in this country today is the issue of security. Security is, and of course, stability.
“The point is this: If one state is peaceful, secured and safe in Nigeria, it is an example to others and it goes a long way because the aggregate peacefulness, the aggregate security and the aggregate security is what makes for peace, security and stability of our country.
“Here, you have seen real transformation. If there is a place where you can say, come and see transformation taking place, this is one place in the country.”
Governor Dickson had earlier lauded Obasanjo for being a friend of the Ijaw people, noting that Obasanjo was instrumental to the emergence of former President Goodluck Jonathan as Nigerian leader.
“We can see people you appointed into sensitive offices, God used him to give us a Vice President, God used him to give us President of Nigeria. He is commissioning our major investment in health, agriculture and education. These things were built for the benefit of our people. In this state there is democratisation of healthcare”, the Governor said.
Responding to the question of leadership and what it takes to succeed, Dickson said he believed that leaders must do what was in the interest of the people they govern at all times.
“I agree in the fear of God and fair and just leadership because leaders in the end are also human beings. While it is right to expect perfection from leaders, you cannot find perfection in any leaders. While we strive towards perfection, what I have found useful in my own little way is that I always want to convince myself knowing that actions and inaction of leaders have consequences.
“You have to convince yourself that what you are doing or not doing is in the best interest of the people and you remain true to yourself and to God. Let it be said that you did your best and the overall consideration of courage. There must be corresponding courage to do what is right”, he said.