FORMER president Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has been officially inducted as a member of pan-cultural Igbo umbrella body Ohaneze Ndigbo who presented him with a cake to mark the occasion on his 85th birthday yesterday.
Chief Obasanjo, who governed Nigeria as a civilian president between 1999 and 2007, was also a military leader between 1976 and 1979. Apart from having ruled Nigeria longer than any other person, Chief Obasanjo also has the good fortune of being so healthy that at 85, he could still participate in a novelty football match.
Yesterday, Chief Obasanjo was widely celebrated as he marked his birthday and as part of the festivities, Ohaneze Ndigbo visited him in Abeokuta. Ohaneze leaders presented a cake to him as they also inducted him as a honorary member of their association.
Among those who also sent congratulatory messages to Chief Obasanjo were President Muhammadu Buhari. In a message conveyed through presidential spokesman Femi Adesina, President Buhari described Chief Obasanjo as a study in patriotism, leadership and courage.
Mr Adesina said: “On behalf of the federal government and Nigerians in general, President Muhammadu Buhari felicitates with former President Olusegun Obasanjo on his 85th birthday, joining family, friends and associates in celebrating the joyous occasion. The former head of state, 1976-1979 and former president of Nigeria, 1999-2007, is a study in patriotism, leadership and courage, leading the country to democratic government in 1979 and taking over the reins of power as elected president in 1999.
“The former president’s influence continues to resonate beyond the country, extending to the international community and multilateral institutions. As a former military and civilian leader, with a strong network nationally and internationally, President Buhari extols the wisdom, insight and versatility that Chief Obasanjo brings to bear on things, reflecting his experience, diligence and versatility.”
Also, Dr Makut Macham, the spokesman for the Northern Governors Forum, speaking on behalf of their chairman Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State, said that at 85, Chief Obasanjo continues to offer his wise counsel to leaders at various levels. He added that he also participates in the national dialogue aimed at tackling insecurity, poverty, disease and intolerance.
Describing Chief Obasanjo as a nationalist and passionate leader whose patriotism is paramount, Governor Lalong added that the Northern Governors Forum appreciates his fatherly counsel and personal interventions towards finding lasting solutions to insecurity in Nigeria, particularly in the north. He said the former president has never hidden his belief in the unity, oneness and indivisibility of Nigeria and has thus continued to encourage the younger generation to be positive and shun all actions that will erode national unity, peace and development.