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Mark, Dangote, Others Shun Obasanjo's Book Launch

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LAGOS, Oct 28, (THEWILL) - Nigerian Senate President, Senator David Mark and business mogul, Alhaji Aliko Dangote were today visibly absent at the launch of a book titled ‘Baba’s Story: Nigeria is 50’, by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

At the launch in Lagos, Mark, who was scheduled to be a Special Guest of Honour, was represented by former Jigawa State Governor, Senator Saminu Turaki while Dangote, who was Chief Launcher, was represented by his Special Assistant, Mr. Oladeinde Brown.

Other invited guests that were represented at the event include the Governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu and his Imo State counterpart, Ikedi Ohakim. The absence of these guests fuelled speculations that Obasanjo may have made several enemies lately following his political decisions.

Curiously, Obasanjo visited David Mark at his Abuja residence two days ago to get Mark’s reassurance to grace the book launch.

Photo: Former President Obasanjo(L) during his visit to Senate President Mark on Tuesday, October 26, 2010.

THEWILL however spotted Mark alongside Head of Service, Mr. Steve Orosonye, Vice-President of Kenya, Kalonzo Musyoka and President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor at the 1st National Prayer Breakfast organised by the National Assembly held in Abuja.

Photo: Senate President Mark (2nd right); with HOS, Steve Oronsanye (r); Kenyan VeePee, Kalonzo Musyoka(3rd right) and CAN President, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor at the prayer breakfast in Abuja today, October 28, 2010.

However, former President of Ghana, John Kufour; former Minister of Information, Frank Nweke; Kenny Martins; Nigeria Ambassador to Cuba, Ambassador Segun Baju; the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Aremu Gbadebo; Oba of Badagry, Oba Aholu Wholu Menu-Toyi; and few Lagos traditional chiefs attended the book launch.

Speaking at the event, Obasanjo narrated how Second Republic Vice President Alex Ekwueme sought to contest senatorial election on the condition that he would be given support to serve as Senate President. But he said the plan did not work out.

Obasanjo, who is currently Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Board of Trustees, also stated that he left an all-time high $45 billion in the nation’s foreign reserve when he left office in 2007, saying his administration left an unshared $20 billion and a total debt of $2 billion.

The former president who did not give a lengthy speech in his remark after the launch said he wrote the book particularly for the younger generation in celebration of Nigeria’s 50th Independence Day. He tasked the generation to be prepared for future leadership roles, responsibilities, work hard at school, benefit from his story, mistakes and successes adding that his administration made great strides in education, health, communications and the banking sector.

While giving a summary of the book, Obasanjo said he won the 1999 presidential election by 63%, adding that he was busy throughout the first four years.

“My first task was to set up an Advisory Committee to work out a programme of action for me.

“The Committee under the leadership of General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma did an excellent job. The cabinet was made of mainly party stalwarts. I also brought into the cabinet, members of the other two parties and business began in earnest,” the former president said. On the 2003 Presidential Election, Obasanjo also said he won it by 65% and picked his Ministers “on his own” adding that the opportunity enabled him hand pick technocrats and experts in their chosen profession which enabled his government make great strides.

On late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, Obasanjo explained that the Peoples Democratic Party endorsed his candidacy in 2007 and the party campaigned vigorously on the basis of continuation of PDP programmes, and it won.

He said the late president was unable to continue the party’s programmes partly because of his health and partly because of lack of adequate discernment on the part of his advisers, close aides and partly because of himself.

“Yar’Adua’s death was a loss to Nigeria because his candidacy was supported for reasons, which included his intellectual capacity; his inordinate view and practice as a Moslem; and his obvious personal integrity, which he defended jealously until his last breath.”

Obasanjo blamed the handling of the late president’s gave ailment on the deceased former leader, close relatives and aides, which according to him “left much to be desired in terms of the stability and unity of Nigeria.”