Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, former president of Nigeria, has refuted claims that he wanted a third term in office as president of the country, noting that he would have, if he wanted.
Obasanjo, who stated this at a virtual engagement organised by Africa Leadership Group on Thursday, with the theme, “Leadership and nation-building,” and anchored by Pastor Itua Ighodalo, said, “I never asked for a third term. If I wanted a third term, I would have got it. I am audacious enough to know how to get it.”
He noted that getting debt relief for the country, which was almost impossible, was a pointer, as he “got it.”
He, however, stated that the biggest problem of Africa today is leadership, saying it imparts on governance and nation building.
According to him, “Nigeria is where we are because of leadership. We must decisively look for men and women who have the character, attributes, skill and attitude that we need for leadership that will deliver this country.”
When asked if he would mobilise former head of states to support the candidature of the Labour Party’s Peter Obi, having given him an open endorsement, Obasanjo said he would not go on campaign train for anybody.
“I am not on his campaign train. I do not belong to any political party. I will not join any campaign train. I’ve said what is best for the country.”
Speaking on the Nigerian Constitution, Obasanjo called for an amendment, noting that no constitution is perfect. “Some people blame the constitution for everything in Nigeria. Of course, our constitution is not perfect, and there is no constitution that is sacrosanct and it can be amended.”
He said part of what should be included in the amended constitution is devolution of power.
Obasanjo also queried how Nigerian lawmakers apportion salaries to themselves, noting that they go beyond the boundary of their lawmaking to give themselves obscene salaries.
“The lawmakers have no right to fix their own salary. The salary and bonus of our lawmakers is supposed to be fixed by revenue mobilisation but they took it upon themselves to do that. Where is that done? When I was there, whatever I believed should not be paid, since I have to release the fund, I don’t release. There was a time they threatened to impeach me.”
While lamenting the amount of petroleum products that are being stolen, which he said are mind boggling, he said the level of corruption, kidnapping and banditry in the country is worrisome.
“With this type of situation, the economy will not grow the way it ought. People will not come and invest in a country that is not secure and safe. Unless there is investment there will not be growth.
“We don’t have absolute control of our oil industry. Since the discovery of oil in commercial quantities in 1956 up to today, we are still flaring gas. The amount of money we are flaring in gas is colossal, those who are exploring and exploiting our oil, didn’t feel they need the gas, if all we have done is to produce that gas for our domestic use by now, our situation would have been different. ”
In a similar development, Obasanjo has denied the allegation that he was planning to rig the 2023 presidential election in favour of Obi.
Unverified media reports had alleged that Obasanjo gave the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) N5 billion to rig next month’s presidential election in favour of Obi.
“The former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is not responsible for the viral stories on some discredited platforms on the forthcoming general elections in Nigeria,” his spokesman, Kehinde Akinyemi, said in a statement issued yesterday.
Akinyemi, Special Assistant on Media to the former President, stressed that the viral story was completely false.
“Also, apart from the letters dated January 1, 2023 respectively, one which was addressed to the Nigerian youths and the other to Prof. Toyin Falola on his 70th birthday, there has been no other public or private letter written to anybody by the former President.
“The reading public is for the umpteenth time reminded that only a statement duly signed by His Excellency, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo or by his Media Assistant, Kehinde Akinyemi are to be allowed into the media space.
“If need be, necessary checks can be made to confirm the authenticity of such documents before publication to avoid any embarrassment,” the statement said.