Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, went back on his “God will not forgive me” vows on Thursday and pledged to support Atiku Abubakar’s presidential bid, as candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party.
Obasanjo declared his support for Atiku while addressing newsmen after a closed-door meeting with Atiku, some prominent PDP members and some other prominent Nigerians.
Some of the people at the meeting were the National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, former governor of Cross Rivers state, Liyel Imoke, Chief Bode George, Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Rev. Matthew Kukah.
Others are the Pastor and presiding Bishop of the Living Faith Church, Bishop David Oyedepo and a Kaduna- based Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmed Gumi and Ayo Adebanjo, who represented his faction of Yoruba group, Afenifere.
Atiku emerged on Sunday in Port Harcourt, as the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) after the party’s presidential primaries held in Port Harcourt.
Obasanjo hinged his support on the fact that he and Atiku had reviewed what went wrong and he believed that the former Vice-President had re-discovered and re-positioned himself.
He said his prior position concerning Atiku was not personal but based on what he had done against the PDP and the country.
Obasanjo had accused Atiku of corruption and once said that God would not forgive him if he ever supported Atiku. Now he has eaten his words.
The elder statesman, however, said Atiku had apologised and he had forgiven him.
“From what transpired in the last couple of hours, you have shown remorse, you have asked for forgiveness and you have indicated that you have learnt some good lessons
” You have also promised to 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,” he said.
Obasanjo advised Atiku to appreciate all that the PDP had done for him and also work together with all other presidential aspirants as a campaign team.
The former president noted that there were both national and international fences for Atiku to mend.
” 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 of Nigerians.
” 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 and I believe that with a contrite heart, change is possible in everybody’s life and situation.
Obasanjo noted that beyond other PDP presidential aspirants, Atiku possessed, for me, relatively and of all the aspirants the widest and greatest exposure, experience, outreach and possibly the best machinery and preparation for seeing the “tough and likely dirty campaign ahead” through.
He claimed Atiku has a better understanding of the economy than President Muhammad Buhari.
“You surely understand the economy better and 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,” he said.
Obasanjo advised Atiku to run an inclusive government where merit and performance count more than blood relationship, friendship or kith and kin like they both did between 1999 and 2007
“Please uphold truth, integrity, principles, morality and fight corruption, crimes and insurgency.
“The fundamental law of the land, our constitution must be scrupulously defended.
” I make one demand and one demand on you today, I need you to say before God and man that you will always remain irrevocably committed to upholding all the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the whole country will remain your single indivisible constituency.
“Constitutionalism, popular participation and inclusiveness are pre-conditions for reversing the deficits of the past three and half years.
” They will ensure abiding faith in our indivisibility, oneness and faith in the survival of all against none.
“The fundamentals for our development, economic growth and progress are hard and soft infrastructure.
” Remember to always give adequate places in your administration to our youth and women.
“All the authorities involved with the preparation, all processes and conduct of the election must ensure that the election is free, fair and credible,” he said.
Atiku in his opening remarks had described the meeting as historic for him and Obasanjo as well as for Nigeria.
He reiterated that he could not have become relevant without the training and tutelage from Obasanjo’s leadership.
Atiku who described the day as one of the happiest days in his life said it was time for well-meaning Nigerians to come together so that the country could be repositioned on the path of unity and prosperity.
He pledged to dedicate and commit his tenure, if elected as president, to the continuation of the Olusegun Obasanjo- led administration. (NAN)