Nigeria’s former President Olusegun Obasanjo is expressing pride in building a legacy of unity and stability after he served two consecutive term limits in office. Constitutionally, he can not run for a third.
Mr. Obasanjo was the first democratically-elected president in Nigeria to hand over power peacefully in multi-party polls.
The former Nigerian leader was recently in Washington, D.C. as guest and former honoree of the Leon H. Sullivan Foundation.
“We played our role, we followed the constitution and then those who are there [successors] you support them. That doesn’t mean that when they do wrong, you cannot make them [aware of it],” said Obasanjo. “Normally, those who are there don’t want to listen to those who have been there before, but if you are not overbearing and the incumbents are also wise, they will listen to words of those who have gone before them.”
His administration, some analysts say, enabled Nigeria to become one of the fastest growing economies in Africa. He underscored the need for African leaders to abide by the tenets of democracy.
“It will be wrong of any executive leader to bend the constitution to suit his own purpose,” said Obasanjo.
The former Nigerian leader says Africa’s burgeoning democracy needs encouragement.
“I believe Africa is in the process of making progress,” said Obasanjo. “Nation building does not begin or end with one regime. Some mistakes will be made, but whatever mistake it is, those who made the mistakes and those who come after them should learn from the mistakes.”
Obasanjo also talked about ways to resolve the security challenges presented by the violent Islamist sect Boko Haram. The group is blamed for more than 100 deaths across the country’s northern states and for a bombing of a U.N headquarters in the capital, Abuja.
He said Nigerian leaders should use a strategy of “carrots and sticks” to deal with the group.