Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has clarified media reports that he is pushing for a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction in 2019.
In a recent interview with journalists, Mr. Obasanjo said he only made a passing analogy between the marginalisation of the people of Southeast and indigenes of Ogun West Senatorial District in Ogun State.
The former leader said he told a group of visiting Christian leaders some weeks ago that he would like to see an end to apparent marginalisation of people he mentioned, but did not say it must happen in 2019 —or 2023.
“Again, I did not say that. You people say whatever you want to say,” Mr. Obasanjo told journalists who met him in Abeokuta as part of the activities marking his 80th birthday.
Some media outlets had reported Mr. Obasanjo’s comment as a call for an Igbo presidency in 2019.
Some critics accused the former president of sectionalism.
A former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Victor Attah, described Mr. Obasanjo’s comments as “divisive”.
But Mr. Obasanjo said he never actually made such call.
“Look, Christian Association of Nigeria, Ogun State chapter, came to see me here. They asked me to brief them on the situation in Southern Kaduna.
“I have been briefed by Bishop Matthew Kukah who comes from that area. I have been briefed by General Martin-Luther Agwai who comes from that area. I gave them my own understanding of that issue.
“I told them the Southern Kaduna issue is both historical, cultural, religious and political. So if you now want to resolve the issue, you have to take all these issues together.
“And I said the problem is when we fail to attend to something the time we’re supposed to attend to it and then it boomerangs on our face, then we don’t have anybody to blame.
“I said, here in Ogun State, we have a bit of Southern Kaduna problem. I said since Ogun State was created, we have had four elected governors.
“We have three senatorial districts —east, central and west. It has rotated between east and central. And I said west has not had a governor.
“So I said I don’t know when you will get there, but if you don’t get there when you should get there and the west decides to go into agitation then you have yourself to blame.
“I said the same with Nigeria, at independence we had a country of tripod. The north, the east and the west. The north, majority tribe is Hausa-Fulani. The east, majority tribe is Igbo. The west, majority tribe is Yoruba.
“Hausa-Fulani in the north cannot complain. Yoruba, they cannot complain. Even those who didn’t vote for Obasanjo the first time, they had to accept later.
“I said the Igbo haven’t had that chance. Now, we must be mindful, that we do not ignore that. That must be taken care of.
“That’s all,” the former president added.