Former president Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday clocked 76, and he was celebrated at the International Conference Centre of Olusegun Obasanjo Library in his home town, Abeokuta.
Speaking at the occasion, President Goodluck Jonathan described Obasanjo as a true father and elder statesman. Jonathan who was represented by his Chief of Staff,(COS), Chief Mike Oghiadome added: “Today we’re celebrating a true Nigerian, an advocate of peace, a man also who introduced reform to social and political life when he was beckoned to save this country, when the opportunity came in 1999 to govern the country again. We cannot but celebrate this great man as we’re doing today.”
In his welcome address, the co-chairmen of Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library Board of Trustees, BOT, Dr. Christopher Kolade and Carl Masters described the celebrant as a man deserving every honour considering his greatest achievemnt in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.
“As we are celebrating here today, also many Nigerians across the world are rejoicing with this great man. As I was coming here this mornin g, I saw a newspaper captioned Northern Governors felicitate with Obasanjo, I was amazed and asked myself, has this man not now turned an history himself. He is a conflict resolution man, prudent manager of resources, detribalised elderstatesman. May he live long with good health,” Kolade said.
Also speaking, Carl Masters said the programme put together to celebrate Baba was a five-day programme which began on Friday last week with a wide ranging activities, climaxing with the presentation of prizes to winners of atrium competition, debate on human security in Africa by colleges and Universities across the country.
“It is interesting to note that Obasanjo is 76 years today and he is still physically fit,” Masters said.
Part of the programme was the launch of a book titled The Presidential Legacy – 1999 To 2007, in honour of Obasanjo.
“Also,the Library which was conceived many years back which later came into existence 10years after when he became the President of this country and he established the office of the Library, Research and Documentation. This Library is a first class of its own and the first of its kind in the continent. It will be commissioned on 14 August, 2014. No President from USA has accumulated history as that of Obasanjo”, the US born lawmaker said.
The book which was co-edited by Emeritus Professor of Medicine, Oladipo Akinkugbe and Ahmed Joda and written by former Commonwealth Secretary-General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku and one hundred and ninety-nine other scholars, was reviewed by the former governor of Cross River state, Donald Duke while Jim Ovia of Zenith Bank launched the book and presented it to the public.
Obasanjo while appreciating Nigerians vowed to use the last drop of his blood to preserve the unity and progress of the country, first and foremost and Africa and the world in general, as he sang Yoruba Christian songs to thank God for his life.
The former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku who chaired the book launch said he wrote on the Obasanjo years from the perspective of foreign policy, “because I was there when he was an actor on the global platform,” recalling how he chaired the 70th birthday of Obasanjo in Abeokuta six years ago.
Anyaoku regaled the audience with scriptural knowledge by quoting from the Books that God allowed man to live 120 years, therefore pontificating that he would be available to chair the 80th birthday of the former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, by the time he would be 84, himself.
In a toast to the celebrant, Former Judge at the World Court in the Hagues, Bola Ajibola, said the image of Obasanjo he saw when the latter came to him to say he was going to the army was that of someone on a suicide mission.
“I took pity on him,” recalling also how the Ota farmer was a flagship at the Baptist Boys High School, by virtue of being the Librarian.
Ajibola’s testimony was corroborated by the Olubara of Ibara, Oba Jacob Omolade another classmate of the celebrant, who hinted that, “poverty bound us together, even though, we were mates and friends”, the monarch stated.
Among the dignitaries at the event were Femi Otedola and Jim Ovia of the Zenith Bank and Visafone.
Others are the governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun who led the executive members of the State to the venue.
Former Head of Sevice at the Federal level,Steve Oronsaye, former NAFDAC boss, Prof. Dora Akunyili, former deputy governor of Lagos State, Mrs Kofoworola Bucknor- Akerele and a whole lot of Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) members led by the embattled former National Secretary of the party, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola graced the launch.
Also present was the Owa Obokun of Ijeshaland, Oba Aromolaran.