By Abiodun Onafuye/Abeokuta
Former president of Ghana, John Kufuor has described Nigeria’s former president Olusegun Obasanjo as a prophet being honoured in his home and a living legend who can be described as a Rock of Gibraltar.
Kufuor poured the encomiums on Obasanjo on Friday in a lecture he delivered at a programme to celebrate the former president at the Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta, Ogun state, southwest Nigeria.
Kufuor said very few people are celebrated while they are alive and in most cases, people wait until when leaders passed on before they were celebrated.
“Obasanjo is a prophet recognised in his own town and indeed in the whole of Africa. There are two things which a few people know that bound me and Obasanjo together. And this will be the first time I will mention it in the public.
“I was in government in my country between 2001 and 2009 while Obasanjo was in power from 1999 to 2007. When I assumed office in Ghana, I met an economy that was flat on its tommy, everything was grounded. The fuel we had in Ghana then could not last us a day. International communities were packing out of Ghana. After consultation with my executive, I concluded to go to Abuja and pleaded with Obasanjo to lift embargo on NNPC of lifting fuel to neighbbouring countries including Ghana. My plea was immediately granted and that was how Ghana’s economy came back on its feet.”
He added that his second encounter with Obasanjo was when Ghana needed $90 million to execute the West African Gas Pipeline Project and he met him in Washington, the USA. Without wasting time, he added, Obasanjo raised $40 million to assist the project.
Kufuor therefore praised and prayed for long life for the former Nigerian president.
Speaking earlier, chairman of the occasion and former head, Interim National Government, ING, Chief Ernest Shonekan described Obasanjo as an extra ordinary statesman who is the first military ruler in Nigeria to voluntarily relinquish power to a civilian government.
He said Obasanjo got $35 billion debt relief for the country and he also left $50 billion as external reserve when he left office.
He maintained that nobody could rule Nigeria in 1999 when Obasanjo became president stressing that Nigeria then needed a bold, intelligent and confident person who at that time could salvage the country from imminent crash. And Obasanjo did not disappoint.
Ogun state PDP factional chairman, Senator Dipo Odujirin, said the planning of the programme started September last year and they have been meeting regularly to ensure a hitch-free event.
He said most leaders were celebrated at death but he met with like minds who agreed that Obasanjo needed to be celebrated with the programme.
Aside the lecture delivered by Kufuor, the programme will also feature a civic reception at the Ake Palace Saturday.
Two drama presentations entitled ‘Ogbongbodu’ and ‘The Story of a Legend’ will take place later Friday as part of activities to mark the cultural night aspect of the programme.
Other dignitaries at the programme include Senator Gbenga Obadara representing Ogun Central, Adamawa Governor, Rear Admiral Murtala Nyanko (retd), Police Affairs Commissioner, Caleb Olubolade, Deji of Akure, Oba Adebiyi A. Adesida, Osemawe of Ondo, Oba B. Kiladejo and Ogun state Deputy Governor, Prince Segun Adesegun who represented his boss, Governor Ibikunle Amosun.