Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said that he will not apologise for treading on anybody’s toes during his reign as president of the country between 1999 and 2007.
Obasanjo said he did what he had to do and had no regrets.
The elder statesman spoke in Lagos on Friday during a reception organised by his close associates to celebrate his 80th birthday.
“I make no apologies for treading on anybody’s toes. If anybody put their toes on my path, I will tread on them,” Obasanjo said.
He attributed Nigeria’s woes to inconsistencies in government policies.
Obasanjo said the failure of successive leaders to consolidate on the achievements of their predecessors had made governance look like an impossible task.
Obasanjo recalled that during one of his visits to Singapore, he asked the country’s former Prime Minister, Harry Lee Kuan Yew, the secrets of the Asian country’s success.
The former president said, “He (Yew) simply told me their secret was that they did a few things right and continued to do them right. We keep lamenting as if Nigeria is impossible to run or get things rights.
“I think that during my tenure as president, we did quite a few things right but our failure to continue to do what we have done right is the problem.
“One of the things we got right was the Universal Basic Education. We said Nigerians had no reason not to have at least nine years of education.
“On primary healthcare, we did things right because we realised that if we provided basic care for malaria treatment, we would reduce infant and maternal mortality.
“On anti-corruption, I think we got it right. But did we continue to get things right?”
Speaking earlier at the occasion, two former governors, Gbenga Daniel (Ogun State) and Olagunsoye Oyinlola (Osun State) had claimed that Obasanjo trod on their toes during his administration.
“In fact, Baba almost crushed my toes. But Baba is a great man who cares for the nation and wants things to be done the right way,” Daniel said, with Oyinlola expressing the same sentiment.
A former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Nuhu Ribadu, in his remarks, praised the former president for his leadership achievements in the country, adding that Obasanjo contributed immensely to his personal career.
“Things really happened during that period and there were a couple of difficult moments because 99 per cent of the people we arrested were Peoples Democratic Party members.
“He (Obasanjo) exercised self-restraint; he refused to interfere with the day-to-day running of the EFCC. Obasanjo is a living proof that hard work does not kill. I wish he would never retire. You can’t afford to retire.”
Similarly, a former Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Dr. Doyin Okupe, while praising Obasanjo during the event, described the ex-president as “a bad man” who pushed everyone in his team to work hard.
“Baba is a bad man; even though he was the oldest in the team, he worked very hard and expected others to do as well. I told him I did not have as much strength as he would expect, Baba retorted, ‘Ole, ole!’ (lazybones; thief!).”