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2007: It’s do or die – Obasanjo

Posted by From MOSHOOD ADEBAYO (Abeokuta) on 2007/02/12 | Views: 1132 |

2007: It’s do or die – Obasanjo

President Olusegun Obasanjo in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital yesterday sounded tough on the forthcoming general elections describing it as a do or die affair for both himself and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

President Olusegun Obasanjo in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital yesterday sounded tough on the forthcoming general elections describing it as a do or die affair for both himself and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Obasanjo who spoke while addressing elders and other stakeholders vowed not to hand over to any “criminal.”
He said the elections offer Nigeria the opportunity to arrive at the Promised Land and the way to getting there, in his view, is by keeping out the criminals from the electoral process.

“We want those who are going to succeed us to continue where we stop. In 1979, Nigeria was self-sufficient in rice production, in poultry. Those that we handed over to lifted ban on those things, and we became importers of them and we could not produce them again.

“So, you should elect those who will not bring us backward again. I read that somebody said I was campaigning. I will campaign because this election is a do or die affair for PDP,” the President asserted, asking rhetorically, “Why should we have criminals as leaders? If we are targeting 2020 as the year Nigeria will become one of the 20 leading economies in the world, we must not pray for rogues and criminals as our leaders in the next election.”

The President insisted that he would do all within his powers to ensure that criminals were barred from taking the reins of power come next April. According to him, he would not under any circumstance hand over to those he described as criminals as the forthcoming elections could make or mar the country “if we failed to vote in the right candidates.”

Similarly, he highlighted other criteria for the person who would succeed him, saying he must be such that would continue with his administration’s reform programmes.
“I want to appeal to our members (of the PDP) that are here to be firm and committed to the party. We still have a lot to do. The reforms we embarked on in our economy are still progressing.
“The person that left the job before my predecessor told some people that three persons including myself would not leave prison alive. It was not by my power or my wisdom, or the juju that I had or my goodness that made me to live the prison alive. It was God’s wish”.

He also seized the event to yet again dispel the festering rumour that the PDP’s presidential candidate, Governor Umar Musa Yar’Adua of Katsina State has one kidney and as such, unhealthy for the post.
“Can somebody with one kidney play squash? They also said that he is Al-Qaeda (that he is a religious fanatic). This is not so. He is a liberal Muslim. He fears nobody,” said Obasanjo.
Describing the choice of Yar'Adua as the best for the country, the President assured that he would continue the reforms his government started.

On the belief that Yar’Adua would ‘deal with him’ by the time he becomes President, Obasanjo said: “ I know myself. As soon as I hand over power to him, I will return to my base in Ota. I will not interfere with the way he runs the country. I know that it is only a kingmaker that disrespects a king that the monarch deals with. I know my bounds as a national leader and as a former president. I will not interfere with the way he will run the country”.

Obasanjo who went into praise worship assured that the next elections would be peaceful and that Nigerians would get a leader who would continue to cater for their needs.
He also spoke on why he endorsed Ogun State governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, for second term.
His words: “Nobody is perfect. Or is there anyone that is perfect here? If there is such a person, he or she should raise his or her hand. Daniel may have his own weaknesses, but such can be corrected”.
He told the gathering that he once told Daniel on the essence of being humble, rationalizing criticisms against the second coming of the governor with an adage, “the devil we know is better than the angel we don’t know. I know Daniel very well, rather than the angel that I don’t know.”

Defending his economic policies, which have come under flak, Obasanjo said: “In 1979 when I handed over, Nigeria was the 48th biggest economy in the world. Do you know the position we were when I came back in 1999? We were 173.

“Now we want to be among the 20 leading economy in the world by the year 2020. This can’t be possible if those who are going to succeed us are rogues. We don’t want those people I once referred to as Alliance for Corruption,” an apparently enthralled President told his audience.
Meanwhile, the Director of Youth Organisation in the campaign office of Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Mr. Timi Frank is reported to have been arrested by men of the State Security Service (SSS).

A statement issued by the Atiku campaign office Saturday said Frank was arrested in front of the home of former Foreign Affairs Minister, Chief Tom Ikimi in Benin after Atiku’s campaign rally in the ancient city on Friday.

Although the report could not be independently verified as at press time, the Atiku campaign office said he was arrested and taken to Abuja for reasons yet to be made known to them.

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