Former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday criticised the Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha for daring to contest the 2003 presidential election. It will be recalled that Okorocha defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) under which he emerged as presidential aspirant on the party’s platform in 2003. But Obasanjo during the grand finale of a civic reception organized in his honour by the PDP in the South West in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital humorously berated Okorocha who was at the event for joining the race with him.
“Rochas, I met him not long ago by virtue of the fact that he was brought up in Jos. One of the few cities that I found in the ‘50s and ‘70 as genuine melting pot in Nigeria; he probably would not have been able to achieve what he has achieved.’’. “He is a true Nigerian. And when he wants to pull me down, he will say we are colleagues. How can I be a colleague of a failure? You are a failure in contesting for the presidency of Nigeria”, he said. In his goodwill message, Vice President Namadi Sambo described Obasanjo as a leader that the country can always trust. He used the occasion to highlight the achievements of President Goodluck Jonathan assuring Nigerians that the present administration would do more to better their lot particularly in the areas of electricity-generation, good roads and infrastructural developments. Responding to Obasanjo, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) governor incurred the wrath of the former president and erstwhile Board of Trustees (BOT)Chairman of the PDP when he jokingly described Obasanjo as his colleague.
Recalling his days as Special Adviser on Inter-Party Affairs to Obasanjo, Okorocha on a lighter mood said he gave advice that led to the good things done by the former president. Okorocha apparently absolved himself from what he described as ‘bad things’ allegedly done by Obasanjo while in office adding that he was always out of the country whenever his former boss erred. “We are here to give honour to whom is due. Obasanjo will remain immovable and unshakable. He is a man very difficult to describe.
He represents different things to different people. He is not afraid of fighting any battle. But for me, he represents a former colleague, because we both once ran for the office of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. When he appointed me as his adviser, I gave him good advice. He is not afraid fighting any battle. “All the good things he did for those eight years, I advised him but all the bad ones he did, I traveled out of the country”. The APGA governor described Obasanjo as a true nationalist who transcended all political parties and should always think of taking up the national leadership of the country rather than any of a particular party.