Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State yesterday got a massive thumbs-up from former President Olusegun Obasanjo for his performance in office and threw his weight behind the governor for re-election, next month.
Chief Obasanjo said that performance as against party loyalty should be the overriding factor for the electorate in voting for candidates in the elections.
The former Chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), told Igbo leaders from Lagos and Ogun States who visited him at his private residence in Abeokuta that though he does not belong to the same party as Amosun, he can not deny that the governor’s performance in the last four years has been sterling.
The Igbo delegation led by Chief Austine Nkeze was in Obasanjo’s home to seek his direction on the elections.
Obasanjo told them and other non-indigenes in the state to return Amosun to office so that his infrastructural and the urban renewal projects could be sustained.
“In 2011, we were not together. We were together before and I did campaign against him. See what he has been able to do in the last three and a half years in the state. I cannot sacrifice performance for party.
“I never dreamt of having a bridge on a dry land in Ogun State in my life time. Yes, we have Ogun River, where there is a bridge. Go to Ijebu, Sagamu, Otta, what am I seeing, bridges, not even one, two, three.
“So, my people, I am not talking about other elections. I have come to tell you that in order to appreciate what this personality has been able to do in the last three and half years, let us give him our votes.
“What happened in 2011 is politics, and we can all see the difference between politics and personality,” Obasanjo said.
The ex-President, who was conferred with the title, Enyii Ndigbo, which literary means Friend of the Igbo in the state, said that if Nigerians want quality governance, they must vote the right people into office and also shun acts that could engender violence during the elections.
He said: “If we say we want good governance, it is something that we are going to use to get that good governance, and that is our votes.
“Therefore, I beg you to go and get your PVCs (permanent voter cards). It is your passport to good governance. If you cannot vote, you cannot get good governance, you cannot have a say in government. My own is in my wallet, and it is only if you want to steal my money that you can get to see my PVC.
“I cannot understand why we must engage in violence. Don’t let anybody lure you or use you for electoral violence. Elections should be free, fair and transparent. If you don’t win, take it in good stride, believing that next time you will win.”
It is the latest in Obasanjo’s broadsides at his party, the PDP.
Two weeks ago, he told the presidential candidate of the National Conscience Party, Dr. Martins Onovo, who visited him in Abeokuta that party affiliation is secondary to his commitment to Nigeria’s development.
“My first pre-occupation is what is best for Nigeria. Nigeria first, party second and any other thing, third. I can sacrifice anything in the interest of Nigeria and I can sacrifice my own life for Nigeria,” he said on that occasion.
“I can’t sacrifice my life for any party’s interest, but I’ll sacrifice my life in the interest of Nigeria.
“Let me make my own position clear, I am a card-carrying member of the PDP because that is the party on which platform I became the President of this country.
“If what you’re trying to do is in the best interest of Nigeria and Nigerians accept and vote for you, who am I not to accept you as President of Nigeria. I will. But in this your campaign, try to inform, woo and convince the electorate, but whatever may be the outcome of the election after you have done all that, once the election is free and fair and undisturbed, uninterrupted, then you have to accept the verdict of the people.”
And only last Monday, Obasanjo who has been locked in a running battle with the PDP presidential candidate in next month’s election, President Goodluck Jonathan, declared that it is too late for him (Obasanjo) to support the president.
He told Jonathan during a peace meeting in Abeokuta that Jonathan had exhausted his goodwill with him.
The former president has been a virulent critic of the Jonathan administration, which he accused of embracing corruption and wrecking the anti-insurgency battle.
Jonathan replied, slamming some “elder statesmen who talk like motor-park touts”. He, however, did not mention Obasanjo.