BY LEKE ADESERI AND DAUD PLATUNJI
VANGUARD NIGERIA, MARCH 5, 2017
Former Commonweaith Secretary -General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Acting President of Nigeria, Prof Yemi Osinbanjo, and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo during the Grand Opening of the Olusegun Obasanjo President Library in Abeokuta Ogun State
This came as has Obasanjo, in his remarks, said the Library was the fulfilment of his vision and mission which he had in 1988, to collect vital materials of the civil war.
The Acting President, who was among the plethora of dignitaries who graced the grand commissioning of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, OOPL, Abeokuta, Ogun State, said one of the ways to approach the future with sure-footedness is by preserving the lessons, the failures and the successes of the past.
According to him, that is what President Olusegun Obasanjo has been able to do with the establishment of the Presidential Library.
Some of the World leaders who attended the event included but were not limited to: Liberian President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf; Presidents Faure Gnassingbe (Togo); Ernest Koroma (Sierra Leone); Boni Yayi (Benin Republic); Laila Ndinga (Kenya); Joyce Banda (Malawi); William Mkapa (Tanzania); and Nicephore Soglo.
Others included former US Ambassador to UN, Andrew Young; Michael of Kent; former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Anan; Prof. Akinwunmi Adesina; and John Kuffor, former President of Ghana.
Also on the roll call, were former President Goodluck Jonathan, Ernest Sonekan, Abdul Salam Abubakar, Emeka Anyaoku, Namadi Sambo, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Chief Olusegun Osoba and Rabiu Kwakwaso.
Also in attendance were Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote; Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun and his counterpart in the Mines and Steel ministry, Kayode Fayemi; Minister for Information, Lai Mohammed; Femi Otedola; factional National Chairman of PDP, Ali Modu Sheriff.
Former governors Goodswill Akpabio, Emmanuel Uduaghan, Donald Duke, Liyel Imoke and Alao Akala were also present, as well as former Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Nuhu Ribadu.
OSINBAJO ON OBASANJO’S ACHIEVEMENT
The Acting President in his remarks, extolled the virtues of Chief Obasanjo, describing him as a world statesman, detribalised Nigerian as well as a gift to Nigeria in various ways.
Osinbajo, who spoke shortly after the guests were taken round the various sections of the library including the museum and bookshops, described Obasanjo as a rare gem.
He said “very few human beings have a chance of making history and fewer still have a good fortune of making history and writing it as you go along and living longer to even establish a library and write history in your own words. Baba Olusegun Obasanjo is certainly one of those rare human beings.
“But the most serious advantage is that it is one of the sure ways of preserving the lessons, the failures and the successes of the past and also that we can approach the future with more sure-footedness and less pains. History is the most compassionate teacher.” This, he said, is what Obasanjo has done.
Continuing, he said: “At some point in time we were told in an adage that experience is the best teacher, but, now we know it is only half of a wise saying. The full statement of that adage is that experience is the best teacher for a fool, a wise man doesn’t need the pain of experience, history is a kind and a more compassionate teacher.
“President Olusegun Obasanjo is therefore a gift in various ways, being so intricately tied to the history of Nigeria, few years away from independence, to the civil war and then Head of State with the Nigerian people, and then the transition to civil rule and then from retirement and farming, and being twice elected as President of Nigeria and then handed over to another President.
“At every turn, he recorded his views and perspectives and his perspectives, especially of the times in various books, articles, seminars and now in this amazing monument, to add credible life of service to our continent and to our world.
“We are fortunate that it is not only a life-participant and sometimes victim of the twist and turns of history of our nation and continent, but, he is an enthusiast.
“Aside from all else, his enduring legacy will be his belief in one strong, detribalised Nigeria, and this is so evidence in the gatherings of Nigerians here and also his belief in words and in practice in an Africa united in vision and thoughts again; that Pan-Africanist vision is evident in the large gathering of African serving and former heads of governments here present.
“But we diminish his vision if we do not recognize his place as a world-stateman; even that is evident from the representatives of the world that are present here today. “I’m sure that as visitors to this Library, especially young Nigerians who, through this magnificently created place, will learn from both what they see and hear but perhaps what is unsaid, that our place in the history of our society is not what we take from it but what we manage to give it. The more selfless the giving, the more historic. I’m previleged to be here to celebrate in this Library, a man who has given and is continuously giving, an authentic African icon, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo”, Osinbajo said.
In her remarks, the Liberian President, who also doubles as Chairperson of Economic Community of West Africa States, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, quoted the 22nd President of the USA, President Franklin Roosevelt, and commended Obasanjo for the gesture.
She said “History will bear truth to this President, setting the pace in Africa that will spell a long legacy of successful retiring Presidents to record and preserve the history of nation building for posterity and for the benefit of today and future generations.
“You (Obasanjo) are inspired by the examples of President Jimmy Carter with whom you share the vision of preserving the record of the past for future purposes. In your early efforts you faced difficulties and decided that as you go on, you remain firm in your commitment to preserve the institutional memory of the nation in your journey. Today, it is a great delight to witness and rededicate Africa’s first. This was achieved through your innovative efforts.
“Through these facilities we witness the extension of Roosevelt’s vision as a living testimony of Africa’s belief in itself, in a capacity to learn from the past and create a better future. We take pride that through it, our own history, your own history, your nation’s history is recorded, presented and graphically displayed by ourselves, by yourself through these structures for posterity sake.
“The lessons herein are more than academic or events from the past, when history and technology meet as eloquently displayed in Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, history becomes alive as a dynamic reality and development of human kind for our people, our children who will read events of history, who will live, interact, feel and challenge the interpretation of past events.
“I advise African children, adults, scholars everywhere and friends of Africa worldwide to visit this Presidential Library as we have experienced today, feel the exhibits from the life and times of a great son of Nigeria and Africa; more importantly read, see, hear, feel and interact with history and culture”
. Earlier, Obasanjo, in his remarks, said the Library was the fulfilment of his vision and mission which he had in 1988, to collect vital materials of the civil war.
Obasanjo, who described the Library as a centre of knowledge, said the Library would also sustain culture and encourage tourism.
The former President commended the Board of Trustees and the management of the Library, saying without them, the Library wouldn’t have been possible.
AWUJALE, FAYOSE ABSENT
Whereas it was a capacity crowd attendance, the conspicuous absence of the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona, was noticeable. The Ijebu monarch had disagreed sharply with former President Obasanjo a few months back.
Awujale in an Autobiography titled “Awujale: The Autobiography of Alaiyeluwa Oba S. K. Adetona, Ogbagba II”, published by Mosuro Publishers in 2010, had accused Obasanjo of behaviour unbecoming of a president when he was the nation’s leader. Obasanjo then reacted sharply to the monarch’s comment calling him a liar among other names. It had been expected that the occasion of the commissioning would have served to a fence-mending purpose.
Apart from the monarch, other notable personalities that shunned the much-publicised programme from the South-West were governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, and his Oyo State counterpart, Abiola Ajimobi.
Fayose, who leads governors of Obasanjo’s former party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is a known critic of the former president.
BANTER BETWEEN SHERIFF AND OBASANJO
Obasanjo, not one known to shy away from joke, spotted Modu Sheriff of PDP and asked, “Sheriff, what are you doing here? “Sheriff, who invited you here” Sheriff, in his response, said “I'm here in my capacity as the national chairman of the largest political party in Africa”.