I made 'successful' mistakes as President -Obasanjo

By The Rainbow

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Tuesday declared that he made 'successful' mistakes as Military Head of State and civilian president.

Obasanjo was obviously responding an uncomplimentary word on him by  civil war hero, Brig.-Gen. Godwin Alabi-Isama.

Alabi-Isama had in an interview on Sunday to promote his memoir, described Obasanjo as a blundering General in his review of Obasanjo's role during the civil war.

Obasanjo, who ruled the country between 1976 and 1979 as a military head and between 1999 and 2007 as a civilian President, however, took responsibility for all his actions.

He spoke in Ibadan, Oyo State during the 50th anniversary lecture to commemorate the call to the Bar of Chief Afe Babalola (SAN).

Isama, a former Chief of Staff of the 3rd Marine Commando Division, Nigeria Army, Gen. Alabi Isama (retd), had recently accused Obasanjo of committing numerous blunders during his reign in government.

Obasanjo said, 'Some people call me General of blunders. If I commit a blunder and successfully ended the civil war that is good. If I commit a blunder and I monitored transition from military to civil rule, if I commit a blunder and after 20 years and spending three years in prison, I was persuaded to come and contest the election, great blunder. Spending eight years as Nigeria's President is another great blunder.'

'One  mistake I made that turned out to be successful was when I was looking for somebody to give leadership of the University of Lagos to and I chose Babalola. Some people said I made a mistake but it turned out to be a successful mistake.

'My mistakes as people say were mostly in appointments. I appointed the UNILAG Pro-Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor and the university became the best. The Vice-Chancellor and Pro-Chancellor that I appointed were acknowledged as the best at the time.

'The mother of all the mistakes was that the exposure and involvement of Babalola in the affairs of UNILAG led to the establishment of the Afe Babalola University in Ado-Ekiti.

'If you have not seen 'instant wonder', go to ABUAD. Babalola used his experience as the Pro-Chancellor of UNILAG to build what today is the best and fast growing private university in the country.'

Gen. Alabi-Isama said in a telephone interview  last night that Obasanjo missed the point.

He said he was not a politician but just a military personnel and that it would benefit him nothing to twist the story.

His words, 'I am not a politician. The politicians in the country will judge his stewardship. I am just a military personnel. It is unnecessary to twist the story.

'The story in my book is on the spot account of my stewardship as a Chief of Staff of the Third Marine Commando and Sector Commander.

'I am saying that his blunders include running away from the enemy and he was shot in the bottom. He lost over a thousand men in one hour of battle.'

Obasanjo, who inaugurated the extension of Babalola's Emmanuel Chambers on the occasion, said, 'There are many Nigerians, but, there are not many good Nigerians of Babalola's sterling qualities.'

Solicitor-General of the Federation, Ahmed Abdulahi, who represented President Goodluck Jonathan, described Babalola as a product of courage, perseverance, determination and humility.

The Guest Speaker, retired Justice Emmanuel Ayoola, while delivering a lecture entitled, 'The future of Law in Nigeria', stressed the need to improve legal education in the country.

He said, 'Our legal education should be re-invigorated and made more robust. For instance, we should begin to encourage inclusion of Comparative Law in every aspect of our legal education.

'We can only neglect the history of the principles of the common law at a disadvantage. Our law faculties should be fully equipped with the access to jurisprudence and decisions of other jurisdiction to protect our laws.

'We delude ourselves in this country if we believe that, we can be a great nation without a great legal system. The path to the greatness of our nation is through a reliable, efficient, trustworthy and value-driven legal system.'

Former Pro-Chancellor, University of Ibadan, Chief Wole Olanipekun, (SAN) described Babalola as a reformer, revolutionary and educationist who contributed to national and legal development.

Governors Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo); Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti); Olusegun Mimiko (Ondo) and a former Ekiti State Governor Segun Oni among other eminent personalities attended the ceremony.