Obasanjo-I made a huge mistake while picking my Vice as a Civilian President

In the finals of the National Exhibition and Awards organized by Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship (SAGE), the former president of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo disclosed one of the mistakes he made in life was the choice of his ‘number two’ when he wanted to be the next president in 1999.

This event took place at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) Abeokuta, Ogun State. There were presentations and exhibitions of some products displayed by some students of the schools participating in the event.

He went further to say how God made him overcome so many other mistakes which he describes as genuine mistakes.

He said;

“One of the mistakes I made was picking my ‘number two’ when I wanted to become the president. But because it was a genuine mistake, God saved me.

“The second one was when Abacha wanted to arrest me. When Abacha wanted to arrest me, I was told by the American Ambassador that they will arrest me and that America has asked that I should be given an asylum.  I said no. It could have been a mistake because I could have lost my life.

“I will say there are many things that could have been a mistake but God saved me from them all”.

Chief Olusegun Obasanjo also spoke on the opportunity for the youths to lead the Nation, he said, if the current trend of old leaders in the country continues, the youths can never take over the mantle of leadership in the country.

He said looking at the age of those currently contesting which are in their 70’s and 80’s and with the campaign of “Not too Young to Run,” how can the youths run.

“Another thing inhibiting youth from running is the amount of money involved in going into politics. I hope that things should not continue like this.

“I was 39 years old when I became the Military Head of State. Twenty years later, I came back as civilian president, but those there now do not want to allow the youths. If things continue like this, I do not know how you can come in.”

The former president also advised the students about religious differences and that they should be religiously tolerant. He advised them not to see any religion as superior to another.

Obasanjo said, “I have no right to say what another man believes is inferior to mine. If God had wanted all of us to be of the same religion, he would have made it so, and since he did not make it so, no person should attempt to make it so.

“Young people should learn very early in life that if there are five religions in the world, that is how God wants it to be. If there are ten, that is how God wants it. All religions originate from the same source.

“If you are a Muslim and you did not live the way God wants you to live, you cannot enter Aljannah. If you are a Christian and you did not live the way God wants you to live, the same thing, you will not enter paradise.

“If this is the basis of religion, doing the right thing for the benefit of mankind, you don’t have to condemn any person because of what he believed.

“I do not believe that any religion is superior to mine and I don’t believe that mine is superior to another person’s beliefs. I will not allow any person to cast aspersions on my religion and will not do the same for another person. Practice your religion the way God wants you to do it and don’t condemn another person”.

The chairman of SAGE, Agwu Amogu, after welcoming participants at the event said, the program was to celebrate the cultural energies and commitments of teen entrepreneurs who see and accepted the challenges in the communities as their responsibilities.

SAGE is an acronym for Students for the ‘Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship. It is an international program initiated at the California State University Chico USA in 2002 and is currently operational in over 32 countries across all the continents of the world.

“It offers secondary school-aged young people a hands-on learning process on how to create wealth, help others and their communities.” He said.

He said it had shown that it is a potent strategy and model for multi-cultural integration, youth re-orientation, educational reform, job creation, and poverty alleviation, since the introduction of the program in Nigeria in 2006.

According to him, Nigeria urgently needs a new educational paradigm.

He said;

“The new paradigm must provide students with a chance to learn while solving community problems and immediately applying what they have learned in the classroom by actually doing something great.

“We now live in a world where any country can compete effectively with others based on the creative imagination of its human capital.  There is no better place to stoke the fire of imagination than in the young people. And that is where SAGE comes in”.

“SAGE is about creating value.  Students are encouraged to create something of value in their communities by applying what they learn in the classroom and testing it in the ultimate laboratory…. the free market.”

He also commends Nigerian students since the program began in the country and how fantastic the country’s representatives have been in the competition.

He said, “We firmly believe that Nigeria can be a world leader in providing potent human capital to the rest of the world; setting a benchmark for other countries to follow.

“Having won the SAGE World cup 8 times in the last 12 years, I have no doubt in my mind that Nigerian young people are one of the most energetic and enterprising in the world and they can quicken our rise to a global superpower status.”

And he went further to say, in the SAGE World Competition held in the Netherlands in August 2022, winners of this year’s Nigeria competition, would represent Nigeria there.