By Femi Ogbonnikan in Abeokuta
Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday played host to former Governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa, at his Abeokuta residence, Ogun State capital, where the latter had visited to seek his (Obasanjo) blessing in his presidential ambition in the 2019 general election.
Bafarawa, who led a delegation of his campaign organisation to Obasanjo’s home, said he had visited to seek the “blessing, prayers, advice and support” of the elder statesman.
The former governor who described Obasanjo as his leader and mentor, attributed his success as Sokoto State governor between 1999 and 2007 majorly to “advice and support” from the former president.
He explained that based on Obasanjo’s advice on savings, he left about N11.8billion in the state treasury to his successor when he left office in 2007.
However, the former governor recalled that Obasanjo visited Sokoto State 14 times to inaugurate various projects, adding that he also replicated an all-inclusive government run by the former president at the federal level.
Bafarawa made a veiled reference to Obasanjo’s administration’s for its continued interventions at critical stages of the nation’s history and noted that many Nigerians had misunderstood the intentions of the elder statesman.
Besides, he commended the former president particularly for laying the foundation for the crusade against corruption, saying: “Nobody can successfully lay claim to fighting corruption without recourse to what Obasanjo had done.”
However, Obasanjo noted that “Nigeria can be better than what it is now,” and pledged his support for any step to lift it up.
“The situation of Nigeria today is not such any right-thinking Nigerian should applaud.
“My own strong belief is that Nigeria deserves better than we have now and we can get better than what we have.
“I believe the task of moving Nigeria to an enviable height is a collective responsibility and if we fail to act together as we ought to, the nation will not be where it is supposed to be in 2019,” he said.
The former president, who recalled his role during Nigeria’s civil war between 1966 and 1970 as well as his travail in prison, said: “I have made sacrifices for Nigeria and will continue to do so.”
The elder statesman, however, called for more attention for the welfare of the less privileged Nigerians and a preference for increased educational development, particularly, in the North-east zone to end insurgencies.
He called for new strategies to fix Nigeria, adding that “we have continued to tread on the old path.”
Obasanjo had a parting gift for the former governor, urging him to strengthen the leadership qualities he has found in him (Bafarawa), including humility, diligence, selflessness and being ethnically unsentimental.
The former president, therefore, prayed for God’s guidance and support for Bafarawa’s presidential ambition.