Former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday said Nigeria has got away with a lot of “stupid things” because of God’s love for the country.
He said Nigerians blame themselves for failing to use the resources God gave them to build a prosperous nation.
Obasanjo spoke at the official launch of a book, titled: The Letterman: Inside the ‘Secret’ Letters of former Nigerian President, written by the Editor-in-Chief of Premium Times, Musikilu Mojeed, yesterday in Abuja.
The 492-page non-fiction x-rays the role of letter writing in leadership, governance and politics.
It focuses on the former President and his fondness for speaking bluntly to subordinates, superiors, associates and foreign personalities – through letters – not minding the reactions the letters might generate.
Obasanjo said: “I believe that God is a Nigerian. Bishop (Matthew Hassan) Kukah may not agree with me. It’s because God loves us so much that we have done so many stupid things and He allowed us to get away with these stupid things.
“I sincerely hope that God’s patience has no limit of elasticity because if he did, there would soon be a day that God would say: ‘No, I have had enough.’ And if God says he has had enough, it doesn’t matter. Musikilu can write 20 books on Lettermen and Letter women, it won’t help us.
“I believe the right lessons must be learnt. We have all that we need to have. God has given us all that we need to have; that we are not doing what we should do. It is not God. We should blame ourselves.”
The former President said global leaders used to consult with Nigeria before taking decisions on Africa.
He wondered how the country fell from such a lofty height to its current position.
“We probably don’t appreciate what we have as a country. I believe if we did appreciate it, made good use of it, we would do better than we are doing now.
“I have sent for an interview with the only remaining member of what they call the 12 disciples in the foreign service. That’s the 12 Nigerians who first joined the foreign service before our independence, Ambassador Adefuye, is the only remaining one.
“In that interview, he said when Nigeria became independent, it was a giant in the sun. That was the expectation; not a giant even in Africa; a giant in the sun. That was the expectation of the world about Nigeria.
“Have we lived up to it? No. If we have not, why haven’t we? And it is not so far to seek.”
He said the former President wrote everything about himself.
Kukah said it was hard to write about the former president because he has written about every part of his life.
The cleric said the former President elevated the act of letter writing to an art form.
He said the book covered 25 letters covering different issues.
Mojeed narrated how Obasanjo sometimes got angry at questions that journalists asked him about vital issues.
The journalist said Obasanjo never gave him access to the letters, adding that it was a completely unauthorised work.
The event was attended by a former Transportation Minister Rotimi Amaechi, former Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson, as well as Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and Chairman of the Governing Council of Osun State University, Yusuf Ali.
The presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, was represented by a former Aviation Minister Femi Fani-Kayode; Chairman of Premium Times, Nasir Abdullahi; the European Union (EU) representative Alexandra Gomez; Ukrainian Charge d’Affairs, former Inspector General of Police Sunday Ehindero, Kole Shettima of the MacArthur Foundation.