A former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday, described his choice of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar during the 1999 Presidential election as one of his genuine mistakes in life.
Obasanjo stated this while answering questions, posed by students from selected secondary schools that participated in the final of the National Exhibition and Awards, organised by Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship (SAGE).
The event, held at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta, Ogun State, featured presentations and exhibitions of some products made by students of the participating schools.
Obasanjo, who was reflecting on his life and achievements both in the military and as a civilian President, said, one of the mistakes he made, was when choosing his number two when he wanted to become president.
The former President said he had many mistakes, which he can describe as genuine mistakes in his life, but God made him overcome them.
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, I was told by the American ambassador that they will arrest me and that America has asked that I should be given 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”.
While speaking on opportunities for the youths to take over the mantle of leadership in the country, Obasanjo said youths can never come into power, if the current trend continues.
He said even with the “Not Too Young to Run” campaign, you can see that those that are contesting now are between 70 and 80 years old, how can the youths run.
He said: “Another thing inhibiting youth from running is the amount of money involved in going into politics. I hope that things will not continue like this.
“I was 39 years old when I became the Military Head of State. 20 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 tutored the students, that they should imbibe religious tolerance, advising them not to see their own religion as superior to that of another person.
Obasanjo said: “I have no right to say what another man believes in 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.”
Welcoming participants at the event, the Chairman of SAGE Nigeria, Agwu Amogu, said the programme was to celebrate the creative energies and commitments of teen entrepreneurs who see the challenges in the communities as their responsibilities.
He said, “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, and help others and their communities. 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 said.
Amogu, who commended the feat of Nigerian students since the commencement of the programme in the country, the country’s representatives, had been fantastic 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 eight 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.”
The SAGE chairman said winners of this year’s competition, would represent Nigeria in the SAGE World Competition held in the Netherlands in August 2022.