Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Wednesday said he could vouch for the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar, to reposition the country, a position different from what he had written in his memoirs.
Obasanjo made the statement in Lagos while speaking at the 2019 Island Club Quarterly Business Lecture.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Atiku had earlier delivered a lecture titled: “My vision to get Nigeria Working again”.
Obasanjo said he believed that Atiku has the experience, the capacity and passion to move the country forward.
He said Nigerians should no longer find his support for the former vice president strange going by what he said or wrote about him in the past.
He reiterated that he stood firmly by whatever he said in the past about Atiku and indeed President Buhari.
He, however, said the PDP candidate had demonstrated what was expected of a committed and sincere leader by owing up to his past mistakes and showing remorse.
Obasanjo added that Atiku had not only apologised to his political party and the nation, but also apologised to him for the past mistakes he made as his deputy.
He said that Atiku was not infallible like every other human being and that he, (Obasanjo) would be playing God by not forgiving the former Vice-President.
“I have been called names because of my position on Atiku Abubakar, the Wazirin Adamawa.
“Everything I have said as far as I have knowledge of Atiku, I have not retracted and I stand firmly by it because it is, the best of my knowledge, true.
“And neither has what I have said and written about Buhari been controverted, if anything, it has been confirmed and proved beyond any shadow of doubt.
“But Atiku has done things which are absolutely imperative for a leader to be followed and believed.
“First, know who you are and present yourself as you are – a human being in blood and flesh and susceptible to human mistakes and human frailties.
“Don’t cover up with sanctimonious veneer of bogus integrity, incorruptibility, uprightness, goodness and false figures and statistics, all of which are contrived to deceive, to cheat, to plunder and to destroy.
“Atiku never claimed to be a saint and I never described him as such. I will never so describe any human being alive let alone calling him a Messiah.
“On an occasion in the past when I said that someone was not a Messiah, some Nigerians out of bad “belle’’ were up in arms.
“For me, as a Christian, the only Messiah I know and have is Jesus Christ and even then, the man aspect of Him was imperfect while the divine aspect of Him was perfectly messianic.
“Secondly, a leader must be honest to himself and to the people he serves or he wants to serve.
“He must identify and acknowledge his situation, mistakes, shortcomings and inadequacy; show remorse where and when he has erred, seek forgiveness and repent; and not passing the bulk or keep blaming others and fail to accept responsibility.
“Atiku accepts responsibility for his mistakes, shows remorse and seeks forgiveness from his political party and subsequently from Nigerians.
“He asks for forgiveness from me and as a believer, a Christian as such, I forgave him in accordance with the teaching and instruction of my Saviour.
“For, if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly father will also forgive you.
“But if you do not forgive men their sins, your father will not forgive your sins (Matt 6:14-15 NIV).
“If anybody blames me for forgiving Atiku, I leave such a person with God Almighty, especially as both Christian and Islamic clerics joined Atiku to visit me to seek forgiveness.
“Anybody who does not forgive when forgiveness is sought with contrite heart cannot be a true believer and should not expect the forgiveness of God,” he said.
He said past disagreements notwithstanding, Atiku demonstrated great leadership qualities when he was in office as Vice-President.
Obasanjo said he believed with the experience and courage of Atiku, he remained the best candidate to move the country forward.
“I must reiterate that Atiku is not a saint. Who is? But from what I know of him, he will be a performer in all respects. I can say that again from my personal experience.
“He knows the problems and he handled some of them in the past.
“We now know that both Buhari and Atiku have issues and all of us as human beings have one issue or the other in different magnitudes.
He also commended Island Club for providing the platform for leaders to articulate their visions for the country through the lecture.
He said the series of the Club’s lecture had helped enrich discourse on nation-building.
NAN reports that prominent Nigerians at the lecture included Senate President, Bukola Saraki, PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus and Sen. Ben Murray-Bruce.
Others at the lecture included a PDP chieftain, Chief Bode George, PDP candidate in Lagos, Mr Jimi Agbaje and a former governor of Ogun, Otunba Gbenga Daniel.