I never threatened to break up Nigeria if Buhari rigs election — Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has denied a statement credited to him that he would fight to divide Nigeria if President Muhammadu Buhari rigs the February 16 presidential election.

Mr Obasanjo made the denial through a statement by his media aide, Kehinde Akinyemi, on Thursday.

He said as a Nigerian who fought for the unity of Nigeria and “spit part of my blood in the war front. I am a strong believer in non-divisibility of Nigeria…”

“I read a couple of days ago in the social media a statement ascribed to me that if Buhari rigs the election, I will fight to divide Nigeria. Those who know me will know that such a statement will never come from me,” he said.

Mr Akinyemi said Mr Obasanjo spoke at the public presentation of a book, “Politics As Dashed Hopes in Nigeria”, written by Auwalu Anwar at the Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja.

According to his spokesperson, Mr Obasanjo said he could understand “the frustration and feeling of despondency by Nigerians who watch seemingly, helplessly as Nigeria is being destructively and divisively administered.

“Melancholic despondency is no option for us at any time. I believe Nigerians will fight back not to divide the country but rather to unite it in democracy and good governance and God, the Creator of Nigeria, will be on the side of such valiant Nigerians to get us out as He has got us out in the past.

“I fought for the unity of Nigeria and I spit part of my blood in the war front. I am a strong believer in non-divisibility of Nigeria, as Nigeria divided diminishes each of us who proudly call ourselves Nigerians,” Mr Obasanjo said.

He said he is optimistic “and full of hope for a continued democratic Nigeria which will surely be attended with good governance leading to a great, happy, equitable, united, prosperous, secure and wholesome nation.”

Speaking on the title of the book, Mr Obasanjo said he could “understand where Dr. Anwar is coming from to get the title of this book. But we must replace despair with optimism.

“Only last November, at the launching of Africa Progress Group, APG, which I have the honour of chairing, I raised five pillars of Africa’s development, growth and progress as politics, population, protection, prosperity and partnerships. And politics, which essentially is governance, has overarching implications for other four Ps.

“But I am not in despair and I will ask Dr. Anwar and the rest of us not to be in despair. Our hope lies in democracy with good governance as one of the hallmarks of which is free, fair, transparent and credible election.

“Between now and next year, there are four significant countries where elections are taking place in West Africa – Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. The incumbent in the three cases were in opposition and took over from ruling parties. It was good for democracy.

“The world is looking at these four countries with the incoming elections to see what will be their contribution to cumulatively strengthen, deepen and stabilise democracy in each of these countries.

“If we cherish democracy, we will all guard and protect our fledgling democracy. As for me, I will do everything humanly possible to safeguard democracy with good governance for Nigeria and all Nigerians.

“I am particularly happy in this respect that most Nigerians themselves are rising up to their duties, obligations and responsibilities as guardians of our democracy. I commend all those that are standing to be counted.

“Remember that if you stand aloof when evil is being perpetrated, you become an accomplice in the perpetration of evil. Nigerians must be the architects of their own fortune and future progress,” he said.

Mr Obasanjo commended the international community for accepting to play their gate-keeping responsibility and committing themselves “to take necessary action to ensure the health and sustenance of our democracy thereby making politics a great hope for Nigeria, West Africa and indeed Africa rather than great despair or dashed hopes.

“We salute and appreciate those who support us for the general good of Nigeria. With a population of 200 million and rising population, our misfortune has implications for the rest of Africa and the rest of the world in general. Nigeria’s potentials will be actualised In-Sha-Allah. Let us remain optimistic while we vigilantly and actively work and pray.”

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