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James Sowole in Abeokuta
Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday reminisced on his life and achievements both in the military and as civilian president, saying one of the mistakes he made was picking former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as his running mate during the 1999 presidential election.
He made the revelation at the final of the National Exhibition and Awards, held at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta, Ogun State, which featured presentations and exhibitions of some products, made by students of the participating schools.
Obasanjo was responding to questions, posed by students from selected secondary schools chosen to participate at the event, organised by Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship (SAGE).
The current presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, was Obasanjo’s deputy from 1999 to 2007.
They both fell out after winning their second term in 2003 and their relationship deteriorated till they left office in 2007 when Atiku contested the presidential election against Obasanjo’s anointed successor, the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
Obasanjo, who interacted with the students during the questions and answers session, went down memory lane on his life and achievements both as military Head of State and a civilian president, saying he had made many “genuine” mistakes in his life, but God made him overcome.
The former president said, “One of the mistakes I made was picking my Number Two when I wanted to become the president. But because it was a genuine mistake, God saved me.
“The second one was when Abacha wanted to arrest me. When Abacha wanted to arrest me, I was told by the American Ambassador that they will arrest me and that America has asked that I should be given asylum. I said no. It could have been a mistake because I could have lost my life.
“I will say there are many things that could have been a mistake but God saved me from them all,” Obasanjo explained.
While speaking on opportunities for the youths to take over the mantle of leadership in the country, Obasanjo said youths can never assume power, if the current trend continues.
He said with the “Not Too Young to Run” campaign, and you can see that thosethat are contesting now are between 70 and 80 years old, how can the youths run?” he queried.
The former president said: “Another thing inhibiting youth from running is the amount of money involved in going into politics. I hope that things should not continue like th
“I was 39 years old when I became the military Head of State. Twenty years later, I came back as civilian president, but those there now do not want to allow the youths. If things continue like this, I do not know how you can come in,” Obasanjo add
The former president also urged the students to imbibe religious tolerance
He advised them not to see their religion as superior to that of another pers
Obasanjo said: “I have no right to say what another man believes in is inferior to mine. If God had wanted all of us to be of the same religion, he would have made it so and since He did not make it so, no person should attempt to make it so
“You people should learn at a very early stage in life that if there are five religions in the world, that is how God wants it to be. If there are 10, that is how God wants it. All religions originated from the same sour
“If you are a Muslim and you do not live the way God wants you to live, you cannot enter Aljannah. If you are a Christian and you do not live the way God wants you to live, the same thing, you will not enter paradise.“If the basis of religion is doing the right thing for the benefit of mankind, you don’t have to condemn any person because of what he believed.
“I do not believe that any religion is superior to mine and I don’t believe that mine is superior to another person’s beliefs. I will not allow any person to cast aspersions on my religion and will not do the same for another person. Practice your religion the way God wants you to do it and don’t condemn another person,” Obasanjo explained.
Welcoming participants at the event, the Chairman of SAGE Nigeria, Agwu Amogu, said the programme was to celebrate the creative energies and commitments of teen entrepreneurs who see the challenges in the communities as their responsibilities.
He said: “SAGE is an acronym for Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship. It is an international programme initiated at the California State University, Chico, the USA in 2002 and is currently operational in over 32 countries across all the continents of the world.
“It offers secondary school-aged young people a hands-on learning process on how to create wealth, help others and their communities,” Amogu explained.
Amogu said since the introduction of the programme in Nigeria in 2006, it had shown that it is a potent strategy and model for educational reform, youth re-orientation, job creation and poverty alleviation and multi-cultural integration
According to him, Nigeria urgently needs a new paradigm for education.
“The new paradigm must provide students with a chance to learn while solving community problems and immediately applying what they have learnt in the classroom by actually doing something great.
“We now live in a world where any country can compete effectively with others based on the creative imagination of its human capital,” he explained.
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