Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has explained why he threw his weight behind the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, as his preferred candidate, saying Nigeria doesn’t deserve a leader with bad character.
He spoke on Thursday in Abeokuta, Ogun State, while featuring on an interactive session organised by the Experiential Leadership in Africa (TEL-Africa) with the theme: “Executive Decisions, Indecisions, and Leadership Development in Africa.”
In his New Year message to Nigerians, entitled: “My appeal to all Nigerians particularly young Nigerians,” Obasanjo had backed Obi’s candidacy because “he has an edge” over other candidates.
Expectedly, Obasanjo’s position ruffled the feathers of some leading candidates in the presidential race.
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The All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Bola Tinubu described Obasanjo’s backing of Obi as “worthless”, while his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) counterpart, Atiku Abubakar, said it was Obasanjo’s personal wish which does not reflect the opinion or “position of the overwhelming majority of Nigerians across the country.”
Speaking at the interactive session, Obasanjo said he did not use the word “endorsed” in the open letter, as he only expressed his opinion on the candidates.
He said, “Whether the letter is open or not open, what I believe is that I will be punished by God if I know what is right and I did not put it where it should be.
“The word I used is that one particular candidate has an edge, taking everything together and I take character, I take track record, I take vision and I take what you see in this man as a child of God.
“I said they all claimed to be my mentees and of course I won’t deny that, but if you are my mentee, they must also admit that I know them a little bit and if I then know them a little bit, I must be right to say…
“I don’t know why people are… I have done this in the past before for President Buhari. I said President Buhari does not really understand economy and that is true and you have seen it. I wasn’t running him down, that is what he is and he himself will admit that.
“I said his (Buhari) understanding of foreign affairs is also very little because when he was Military Head of State, he said his frontline does not go beyond the borders of Nigeria, that is a pity. But what then do you have, I wrote a letter almost six and a half pages and then only one sentence…
“Why should you as a Nigerian vote for somebody that the character, the reputation, the life of which you do not want your own children to be?
“It is either you are wicked, you are unpatriotic or you are really, really a bad citizen of this country and then if this is who you are, what do you want God to do with you and that is the way I see it.
“For the last three days, I have about 35 youths who I have been talking to and they all told me that education, security and corruption are what they are concerned about, the question is who then can do it?”