Saturday, August 22

There’s no alternative to democracy - Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said there is no alternative to democracy, arguing that he almost lost his life to a dictator under a military rule.

He said this on Friday at his Hilltop residence in Abeokuta when officials of the National Association of Nigerians Students and some student union leaders from various institutions of learning paid him a visit.

Obasanjo and some other retired military officers and civilians were jailed in 1995 by the military government of the late Gen.Sani Abacha, after he was found guilty by a military tribunal of allegedly plotting to overthrow  Abacha's administration.

He was released after the dictator's death in 1998 by the Abdusalami Abubakar military regime shortly after Abacha's death.

Narrating his near-death experience under the late Abacha's administration, the former President said he would support the current democratic dispensation led by President  Muhammadu Buhari to succeed.

He said, "I will work for the success of this current dispensation; there is no excuse because there is no alternative to democracy.

"The alternative to democracy is worse than dictatorship. I experienced that. Abacha put me in prison and I was about to be killed. If it was under democracy (democratic rule) that would not happen."

Obasanjo, who said no matter what the critics of Buhari might say, it was evident that in the last two and half months, Nigerians had started to witness a sign of a country of their dream.

He noted that the country had tottered towards the precipice so many times, but God had not allowed it to tumble.

The ex-president said, "When one takes a look at everything, the most crucial and vital conclusion is that God loves Nigeria.

"The nation has gone toward the precipice many times and Nigeria did not tumble, this shows God is a Nigerian.

"Many had thought after the 2015 general elections. Nigeria will be no more. Some had sent their families abroad. Some know the NADECO route. I don't know the NADECO route.

"I don't have anywhere to go. But to the surprise of many of them, God did it in a miraculous way. The election took place, though some did not want it to take place. But let us thank God it took place. We must also thank those who conducted the elections.

"We thank God for peace even after the election. No single individual is a paragon of perfection. There is no Messiah except Jesus Christ. But there are people who still stick out their neck for the good of Nigerians.

"Thank God we have such as a leader now. What we have witnessed in the last two and half months is that our dreams are coming true. We must give unalloyed support to the government.

"Criticisms that are objective and positive are welcome where necessary."

Responding to a question on whether Obasanjo added that Buhari took a right decision by giving the military a November deadline to end the Boko Haram insurgents.

He said setting a target was part of military war strategy to measure the success or failure of a particular operation.

He said, "President Muhammadu Buhari took a right decision by telling the military to quash the Boko Haram insurgents by November.

"It is not good to just leave everything open-ended. It is a strategy in the military to set a target for any operation. This will enable those concerned to work hard.

"Having a target is necessary. Even if that target was not met, the people concerned would have something to work with."

Obasanjo, who used the Nigeria's civil war as an example, said the military had set a six-month target to crush the Biafran renegades, but the war extended to 30 months.

He said, "For those of us who were involved in the Nigeria civil war, we set a six-month target to end the Nigeria-Biafra war, but it extended to 30 months."

On his own part, the vice-president, NANS, Ogunkuade Oluwatosin, said the students' body recognised the doggedness and contribution of the former president to the success of the 2015 general elections.

He said the Buhari-led administration should extend its anti-corruption war to education sector.

He said, "Your fatherly contribution to the development of Nigeria is visible, even three months after the general elections.

"We need your contribution to move Nigeria to Nigeria of our dreams. We want student-youth inclusion in the government of President Muhammadu Buhari."

Obasanjo threw a challenge to the students, arguing that none of them was too young to make meaningful contribution to the development of the country.

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