Omololu Ogunmade and Chuks Okocha in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari, former presidents Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, and former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, yesterday felicitated with former President Olusegun Obasanjo on the occasion of his 83rd birthday, coming up today, March 5, 2020.
Buhari, in his message, congratulated the former president for what he described as a life of courage, dedication and service to Nigeria, Africa, and humanity in general.
A statement by the president’s media adviser, Mr. Femi Adesina, said Buhari joined family members, friends and associates of Obasanjo in celebrating this milestone, saying the former president’s commitment to Nigerian nationhood remains outstanding and commendable.
The president acknowledged his sacrifices for the continent, including standing up for democracy in many countries.
“As the former president celebrates the auspicious occasion, President Buhari prays that the almighty God will grant him longer life, good health and strength to keep serving the nation and the continent,” the statement added.
In a goodwill message Jonathan praised Obasanjo for his distinguished record of service and loyalty to the country.
“I join your family and Nigerians from all walks of life to celebrate you as you mark another birthday. You are an elder statesman and patriot with a distinguished record of service, loyalty and love for our country Nigeria. As a President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, you built bridges of love and unity across the land. As you celebrate, my family prays that God will bless you with more years of glory, honour and sound health.”
Atiku said Nigeria owes Obasanjo a lot for his selfless service to the country.
He 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 had prevented him from retiring, a sacrifice that his family and him deeply appreciated.
Atiku in his commendation of Obasanjo said, “From The Congo, to South Africa, to Angola, to Liberia and São Tomé and Príncipe, your democratic finger prints 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.
Atiku told Obasanjo: “It was not your will to be in office, but it was your will to bequeath democracy to Nigeria.”
Atiku argued that after 21 years of the Fourth Republic, Nigeria had cause to celebrate Obasanjo’s democratic credentials.