“Yes, Your Excellency. That is the point. People say what you’re doing now is beyond statesmanship and that it is pure politics. They say you’re attempting to tell Nigerians who to choose. In fact, some say it is an attempt to cover your failure as a president.”
“Really? I dey laugh. They say I failed? Well, let them say whatever they like. I remain a statesman. Will I say because I’m a statesman I should allow Nigeria to drift? No way. Anybody who says I should keep quiet is trying to insult me and I won’t take that. I won’t. Go and tell them at the Villa or wherever they say they are. Anybody who says I should keep quiet about Nigeria, I am ready to go konko bilo with the person.”
Above statement and many more were given by former President Olusegun Obasanjo who was bombarded by many questions from Nigeria journalists who had encountered with him at the presidential lounge of the Lagos Airport.
Read full interview below as captured by corespondent of the nation newspaper.
Obasanjo saunters into the hall on his way to the Presidential Lodge. Reporters rush to interview him. He looks at them and frowns. He continues to walk away.
Reporter: Good afternoon,Your Excellency. May we have a minute with you on some national issues?
Obasanjo stops. He waves at the horde of reporters and walks away. One of the reporters repeats the question. The former President beckons to him, draws him close and knocks his head twice.
“Oya, two questions. If you ask me more than two questions, you get two more knocks. Is that clear?”
Reporter:” Sir, this allegation about your administration spending $16b on power without result and you boasting about that; are you really proud of what you did in that sector? Don’t you smell corruption here?
Obasanjo (Raising his right hand and pointing a finger at the reporter): “I hope nobody sent you to embarrass me or get me angry unnecessarily. What do you know about corruption? (Hmm…hmmm… hmmm. He clears his throat). You see, Mr Reporter or whatever they call you or you call yourself, for there to be corruption, there are certain conditions that must be present. There must be the bribe, the giver and the taker. Tell me, all the probes that had been conducted on this matter, have I, Olusegun Aremu Okikiola Obasanjo, been indicted?
“I have nothing to say; go and read my book. I have answers for you and people like you who, with due respect, talk nonsense about what they know nothing about.
“If they say there is no power, let them go to the ports where the equipment were left to rot away. If they are not pleased, let them go to the various sites of the projects. If they still can’t find the power they are looking for, dat na dem toro. For me o, anytime they are ready to probe the matter, I dey kampe; I’m ready.”
Sir, you were in Akure the other day to plead with Afenifere leaders to join you in the rescue mission you claim to be leading. Now, people are saying, how do you want the leaders to trust you after deceiving them in 2003 when the PDP swept the Southwest and rolled back its progressive credentials?”
Obasanjo (raising his right hand and frowning. He adjusts his glasses.) With due respect; I’m sure you were sent. How can anybody say I deceived them and that my coalition is on a mission to deceive? Absolute nonsense.
Sir, Prof Itse Sagay (SAN) is quoted as saying that if you’re put on trial for alleged corruption, heaven will not fall. In fact, he said your administration has been one of the most corrupt in Nigeria’s history, that you act like a saint when you are ‘the most stained’”.
“Sagay? Who is that? He said that? When? You see, that is absolute nonsense. I fought corruption. I set up the EFCC and put that boy, emm…emm Nuhu, Nuhu Ribadu in charge. I set up also the ICPC. How then can you say I’m corrupt? I’m the only leader who has been examined by the anti-corruption agencies and found to be clean. Yes.”
“Your Excellency, people allude to the Halliburton scandal over which some people have gone to jail in the United States. They say it happened under your watch and it was a monumental case of corruption.”
“Halliburton? Yes. Did they mention my name? If it happened under my administration nko? Did anybody find any bribe in my sokoto pocket? Am I responsible for the corruption of every Nigerian? If they say Nigerian officials collected Halliburton bribe, tell me, is that Obasanjo? Please, don’t annoy me. With due respect, can you see a former European leader and ask him such questions? Halliburton my foot! Besides, that is an allegation. I don’t dwell on allegations, but solid, concrete evidence. If anybody has such evidence, a proof of my involvement, let him bring it up. I’m ready to face him in any court.”
“Is it true that you said those supporting the Buhari administration are morons?”
Are you a moron? If you are not a moron, why bother about that? Why do you want to know what I said and what I did not say? Don’t I have a right to say what I like?”
“Sir, what people are saying is that that is hate speech, which is unexpected of a statesman like you.”
“Hate speech. What do you know about hate speech? How old are you? Once I have spoken, I just move on. Chikena!. If anybody is offended, that is not my problem. In any case, what is your problem; are you a moron?”
More questions, but Obasanjo walks away. No smiles and no byes as the reporters turn back.