Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has endorsed ex-Vice-President Atiku Abubakar for the 2019 presidential election, describing him as better than incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari.
Abubakar, who served as Obasanjo’s deputy between 1999 and 2007, is the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Accompanied by top members of the opposition party, Abubakar visited Obasanjo in Abeokuta on Thursday.
While receiving his guests, Obasanjo publicly admitted that he has been having a running battle with the PDP candidate but said he had forgiven him.
He expressed delight over the tribute Abubakar paid to him at the presidential primary of the PDP.
“I am happy to welcome the distinguished leaders of goodwill who have led the PDP Presidential candidate and my former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, to my humble abode and I welcome the Presidential Candidate himself,” he said.
“Let me start by congratulating President-to-be, Atiku Abubakar, for his success at the recent PDP Primary and I took note of his gracious remarks in his acceptance speech that it all started here.
“Yes, when it started, it was meant for Atiku to succeed Obasanjo. In the presence of these distinguished leaders of goodwill today, let me say it openly that we have reviewed what went wrong on the side of Atiku. And in all honesty, my former Vice-President has re-discovered and re-positioned himself. As I have repeatedly said, it is not so much what you did against me that was the issue but what you did against the Party, the government and the country.
“From what transpired in the last couple of hours or so, you have shown remorse; you have asked for forgiveness and you have indicated that you have learnt some good lessons and you will mend fences and make amends as necessary and as desirable.
“Whenever or wherever you might have offended me, as a Christian who asks for God’s forgiveness of my sins and inadequacies on daily basis, I forgive and I sincerely advise you to learn from the past and do what is right and it will be well with you. Obviously, you have mended fences with the Party and fully reconciled with the Party. That’s why today, you are the presidential candidate of the Party.
“For me, relatively and of all the aspirants in the PDP, you have the widest and greatest exposure, experience, outreach and possibly the best machinery and preparation for seeing the tough and likely dirty campaign ahead through. From what I personally know of you, you have capacity to perform better than the incumbent. You surely understand the economy better; you have business experience, which can make your administration business-friendly and boost the economy and provide jobs.
“You have better outreach nationally and internationally and that can translate to better management of foreign affairs. You are more accessible and less inflexible and more open to all parts of the country in many ways. As Pastor Bakare, one-time running mate of the incumbent President said, “You are a wazobia man.” And that should help you in confronting the confrontable and shunning nepotism.”
Obasanjo advised Abubakar to team up with those who lost out in the race to secure the presidential ticket of the PDP.
“In addition to appreciating all that the Party has done for you, may I advise you to work together with all those who contested for the party’s flag with you as a team for your campaign,” he said.
“There are still areas, nationally and internationally, where you have to mend fences and make amends. You will know how to handle what is already out and what may yet be put out by the opposition. But, I am convinced that if you continue with the attitude that brought you here with these distinguished leaders of goodwill, with remorse and contrite heart, the rest of the coast within and outside the country can be cleared. And if there is anything I can do and you want me to do in that respect, I will do.
“I am sure with the right attitude for change where necessary, and by putting lessons learned by you to work, you will get the understanding, cooperation, support and mandate – all at the national level. With Nigerians voting for you, it will mean that you secure their forgiveness and regain their confidence. It will be with the hope or assurance of a Paul on the road to Damascus Conversion. After all, change and conversion are of man. I believe that with a contrite heart, change is possible in everybody’s life and situation.”