2023: Many aspirants ought to have been in jail, if EFCC, ICPC perform efficiently — Obasanjo

March 5, 2022

5.6 min readCategories: News

By James Ogunnaike, Abeokuta


Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Saturday said some persons aspiring to be Nigeria’s President in 2023 should be in jail had the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission performed its job efficiently.

Obasanjo, who stated this at an international symposium organized to mark his 85th birthday, at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta, Ogun State, said most of the aspirants lack integrity.

Obasanjo, who titled his address ‘Africa Narrative with Nigeria Situation’, said though many presidential aspirants have visited him to solicit support for their ambition, he has not endorsed any of them for the exalted seat of the president in 2023.

The ex-President said, “I cast a cursory look at some of the people running around and those for whom people are running around. If EFCC and ICPC will have done their jobs properly and supported adequately by the judiciary, most of them would be in jail”.

Any person who has no integrity in small things cannot have integrity in big things. Fixing Nigeria must begin on the principles of nation-building, not necessarily on emotion, sentiments, euphoria, ignorance, incompetence, ethnicity, nepotism, bigotry, sectionalism, regionalism, religion or class. The issues of security, stability, development, economy and our relationship within Africa and with the rest of the world can only be taken care of if we get the issue of the nation-building right”.


“We have a lot to learn from the events of the last almost twenty-four years and God is not to blame if we fail. It would appear that we are not getting our priorities right and that can spell doom on our country if we fail to do what we should do for nation-building in terms of fundamentals of equity, justice, common ideals, popular education, shared values, mutual respect and equality of opportunity anchored and propelled by leaders across the board that are persons of integrity, honour, morality, competence, great virtue, courage to do what is right, humility and ability to put a team together and work with them in selfless devotion and service with the fear of God”.

Federal character, rotation and such other measures are meant to help our nation-building process and more sure-footedly, move Nigeria forward, but riding over these measures rudely, shoddily and roughly cannot augur well for our nation-building process and progress. From personal experience and clinical observation, there is no substitute for the steady and uncompromised process of nation-building as we have had in some notable examples in the past that have stood us in good stead”.


“Voting Shehu Shagari into power in 1979 with Alex Ekwueme from “Biafra” as No. 2 in 1979 less than ten years after attempted cessation by ‘Biafra” was in the process of nation-building. It took the United States of America, the USA and other countries that had gone through such wars decades before they could achieve that feat after their civil wars. Sustaining the declaration of the victory of Shagari by the National Electoral Commission when Shagari had the majority of votes and clear one-third of votes cast in twelve States as against six States by Obafemi Awolowo which was also sustained and certified by the court and endorsed for implementation by our military administration was also part of the process of our nation-building”.

Voting for me by other Nigerians in 1999, when Afenifere and the Yorubas substantially voted against me strengthened our nation-building process. As a continuation of that process, PDP adopted a rotation and sharing formula for six key party political offices and government offices among the six geopolitical zones which stood the country and the party in good stead. It was the PDP policy that made it inadvisable to have a candidate from the South to succeed me after my eight years in office as President”.


“I was succeeded by Umaru Yar’Adua from the North. When Yar’Adua died in office, the nation-building process made us follow the Constitution and for Jonathan to step in contrary to the desire of some people from the North who agitated otherwise”.


“I have been at the giving end and at the receiving end of contribution to the nation-building process and I know that if we derail from nation-building process with solid principles, Nigeria will be shipwrecked. I will, at this juncture, leave it to fair-minded Nigerians, who believe in the continuation of the process of nation-building, to decide which way Nigeria should go”.


“I have always maintained that if we look hard widely and fairly and we bring objectivity, national interest and patriotism to bear and which must be spiced with equity, integrity, performance, then no region or zone should claim to have a monopoly of Nigerians that can lead us along the path of nation-building on the basis of justice, fast economic development, inclusive growth, shared value and our rightful place in the global division of labour and decision-making process.

“The narrative which I assert is that every village, town, nation or region has its socio-cultural peculiarities that are best suited for the emergence of its leader and the colour of its governance. Therefore, it is erroneous to put all communities on the planet into a basket, judge and narrate their leadership, governance and development, strictly from the point of view of people from a particular section of the world. If we dig down to the taproot of the recent turmoil and political and developmental upheavals in the world today, we will find that this skewed narrative is one of its major causes”.


“Do not get me wrong. Regardless of the angle of the narrative whether from Africa or outside of it, there are some irreducible minima on leadership. These include people-centredness, inclusiveness, ability to manage diversity, abhorrence of corruption and ethnic jingoism”.


“Our Africa narrative must assume that these irreducible minima are in place after which we can now confidently tell the world, our story of how we in Africa, are contextualising leadership to foster development and progress. This now takes me to the important matter of leadership and nation-building. In the course of this “narrative”, I will provide glimpses from Nigeria”.


“My past, present and future positions on Nigeria are governed by several publicly available parameters. First is the role providence conferred on me in bringing the tragedy of the civil war to an end. It ended on the noble and brotherhood evocative note of “no victor no vanquished.” If it pleases God to enable me to play an important role in this defining chapter in the history of Nigeria, the least I can do in reciprocation is to keep vigil over the peace and stability of this nation in whatever position of leadership I find myself”.

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