Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his achievements in office so far, so saying there is need to encourage him to do more.
Obasanjo also appealed to leaders and youths in Africa to embrace change to tackle the continent’s challenges.
Speaking on Thursday with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, the former President called on African youths not to accept the status quo, tasking them on the need for them to make bitter sacrifices.
On the challenges facing the African continent, he said there is need to change from the status quo.
He said, “There are many challenges. How do we feed our population that is supposed to double in about a generation from now? How do we provide jobs for them and employment? Now, these are the challenges. It cannot be business as usual. We cannot sit in the cool and comfort of our past and think that we will be able to bring about change. Change has to come.”
Below is an excerpt of the interview:
How do you, as someone who is seen as Africa’s elder statesman, say to these African leaders like the former Angolan President, José Eduardo dos Santos?
The fact that José Eduardo dos Santos decided to go, for me, is some comfort. That he handpicked somebody to succeed him may not be good as it should be. Maybe that somebody may not do it the way he would have wanted to do it. So, let us see what happens in Angola.
I know you are sitting here with the benefit of the years you have had in leadership position but you also remember what it is to be like that young man who was imprisoned by military regime. Would you have been happy to be told ‘let us wait and see’?
Yes, I would have been happy to be told ‘let us wait and see’.
But you were imprisoned?
I was put in prison.
Is it because you believed in freedom of democracy?
I spoke for democracy. I said if any military man wants to continue to rule, he should put off his military uniform and contest election and for that, I was put in jail. But when I was in jail because Nigerians and the international community stood for me, I came out of jail. When I was released from jail, the hope I had materialized. I am an optimist. I am always full of hope. I look for the best even in the worst of situation.
But again, we go back to the same point when you have an elite that is either controlling the ruling of the country or controlling, in the example of José Eduardo dos Santos’s daughter, who runs some of the lucrative business in the country. You can see why it would be disheartening for Africa’s youth.
There is a limit to how much you can take on unless you are truly a devil incarnate and when there is too much pressure, you will give in.
So, your message to the youth is to maintain that pressure and to continue believing?
Yes, I believe that they must be ready to also make a bitter sacrifice and that means not accepting the status quo. Look at what happened in Burkina Faso, the leadership there did not want to go, but when pressure was too much, they gave up.
You were a big supporter of President Buhari but at the moment, there are a lot of concerns about his health. There are concerns about Nigeria’s economy. What worries you?
President Buhari has not disappointed me. Yes, he is fighting corruption, he is fighting insurgency. We are not there yet and it is not a one night wonder. With what he has done, we should credit him and encourage him to do more.
Is there something you want to say as a clear message to Africa’s leadership in terms of what they have to do to achieve what the continent is capable of achieving?
Stop doing what is wrong like impunity and corruption. Africa is not destined to have people try to make excuses, there should be no excuse and then we must place our individual countries and Africa above all interests. I believe that this is what we should do and if we do this, we will get there.
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