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Published On: Mon, Aug 5th, 2013

2015: Anenih Woos OBJ, IBB, Abdulsalami for Jonathan


LAGOS AUGUST 5TH (URHOBOTODAY)-CHAIRMAN of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Tony Anenih, got former leaders of the country together in Abuja on Sunday on the occasion of his 80th birthday, specifically requesting them to support President Goodluck Jonathan to have a successful first tenure.
He spoke at the reception organised to celebrate the occasion at the International Conference Centre, Abuja where the President also requested the former Nigerian leaders to “sing the song of unity.”
The former leaders Anenih named were Olusegun Obasanjo, Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar. Obasanjo was not present at the reception though he had attended the thanksgiving Mass earlier in the day but the two former military leaders were present.
Anenih, who revealed that he had made up with Obasanjo while the former President had forgiven him over their political differences, cited his relationship with Obasanjo as a model for forgiveness.
He said all three former leaders must now work with President Jonathan, who he stressed was in his first tenure, to help him to overcome whatever challenges the nation may be facing.
According to him, “I was thrilled when I saw Obasanjo in church today. He was in India few days ago and when Andy Uba said he will come, I doubted it but he came today. And only few months ago, I was with him in his house. That is the meaning of forgiveness which all of us must practise.
“I want to appeal to him and even Gen Abdulsalami who says he is not a politician and equally to the former president Obasanjo that we need peace. They can give us peace.
“If you look at the President, the other day I was telling him, each time I went there with anger to quarrel, when you see him, you get disarmed because of his humility.
“I believe strongly that if all of us put hands behind him, if all of us genuinely advise him, even the worst enemy we have today, Boko Haram, will think twice.”
He added that if he comes to the Presidential Villa and he is told that the three former leaders are having breakfast with Jonathan, “I will go and sleep.”
Noting that Jonathan would be in his last lap by next year, Anenih reminded political agitators that the Presidency was “turn by turn” and therefore urged those who are eager to occupy the position to wait for their turn.
“The President is here, he has just finished half of his first term. When he was elected two years ago, four years was like… Oh. By next year, he will just be on the last lap of his first term. Let us take our time, let us wait for our time. Let us work together,” he sated.
On his part, President Jonathan challenged Nigerian elders to shun ethnic-based politics and work for the unity of the country, urging them to emulate the nationalist qualities of Anenih.
He said: “When you are with Tony Anenih in such a moment, you begin to ask how does he make it. Just like Akpabio said, to be relevant for all this period. It is not easy for a politician to stay on top for a very long time and I see something in him which is a little advice I will give to all of us.
“Anenih as a leader of a political party. And as a leader of this country, he has shown that he is a nationalist. He has not shown that he belongs to one tribe or one religion. So, in spite of the challenges of politics, the unpredictable environment of politics, you see he continues to stand tall.
“That is why I use this opportunity that we are celebrating Anenih at 80 to plead with our leaders to sing the song of unity in this country, not to begin to celebrate the cleavages that probably are suppopsed to separate us.
“Let’s convert those cleavages to strength and bring Nigeria as one indivisible nation. When Nigeria was amalgamated, there were primordial cleavages, those cleavages were not bringing the desired integration in this country and that’s probably one of the reasons I will ask Babangida and Abdulsalami because they were officers or junior officers when General Gowon thought about the need to come up with a state structure so that probably these cleavages will be weakened and we begin to see ourselves more as Nigerians.
“Belonging to one state whether that state is in the north or in the south east or west will be immaterial.
“But even after dividing us up to 36 states, we still exploit these cleavages instead of strengthening ourselves and it is not the best and sometimes such provocative statements even come from the elders who have seen the civil war and supposed to teach the younger ones the need for us to unite, the need for us to see ourselves first and foremost as Nigerians.
“So, for Tony Anenih you have not been associated with such provocative statements. Probably that is why this hall is filled with all our former leaders, former heads of states, former chief justices of this country, governors present and past, our leaders and all our religious leaders.
“For today, we congratulate you, we wish you many more years to play your role in keeping Nigeria one.”
Speaking in a similar vein, chairman of PDP Governors’ Forum and Akwa Ibom State governor, Godwill Akpabio, advised those sponsoring insecurity in the country to refrain from the act.
He said: “if there is anybody here that sponsored or supported any insecurity, I’m not talking, about Boko Haram, I havent mentioned any name, that person must drop it so that Nigeria can have peace.
“We should start today, using this birthday as a point of contact to unite this country and begin to cleanse this country of ethnic sentiment, of tribal sentiments, bigotry, nepotism, despotism. I think this should be the beginning.”
Source: Tribune

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