Chuks Okocha in Abuja
As former President Olusegun Obasanjo clocks 83 on Thursday, his former deputy and the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) presidential candidate in the 2019 general election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has saluted the former president, saying that Nigeria owes him a lot for his selfless service to the country.
Atiku, in a birthday message he personally signed, said: “It is not an exaggeration to describe you as the preeminent political colossus in Nigeria, a nation that owes so much to you. Indeed, many Nigerians would read about your birthday on their GSM devices, which are one of your legacies to the Nigerian people.
“As you turn 83 today (March 5), my family and I felicitate with you and thank God for your life. No individual living or dead, has bestrode the Nigerian political space as positively and purposefully, as you have done, for good and better, in peace time and war, in times of austerity, and times of prosperity.”
He said that Obasanjo’s love for Nigeria and commitment to her unity, good governance and stability has prevented him from retiring, a sacrifice that his family and him deeply appreciate.
Atiku in his commendation of Obasanjo said: “From The Congo to South Africa, to Angola, to Liberia and São Tomé and Príncipe, your democratic fingerprints on the African continent is indelible. You have served and still serve as a beacon of democracy and a guardian of constitutionality.
“Nigeria owes you a debt that we cannot pay, because you led us to pay the foreign debts that we could not imagine paying. By that singular action, you planted trees for generations yet unborn.”
The former vice-president said that Obasanjo, his former boss, holds the enviable and esteemed record of being the first African military ruler to have voluntarily and without internal and external pressure, restored power to the government democratically elected by the Nigerian people.
He said that it was “Not Your Will to be in office, but it was your will to bequeath democracy to Nigeria”, adding that after 21 years of the Fourth Republic, Nigeria has cause to celebrate Obasanjo’s democratic credentials.