Former Nigeria’s Vice President, Atiku Abubakar has described his archenemy and former President Olusegun Obasanjo — with whom he had a lengthy political squabble — as a man with an unquestionable commitment to Nigeria’s unity.
Both men endured a fractious relationship until the end of their stay office — the president nurturing a widely condemned third term ambition, and his vice plotting to emerge as Nigeria’s next President. Although Atiku eventually returned to apologize to Obasanjo, it is generally believed they continue to bear animosity towards each other.
After Obasanjo told a gathering of the Northern Youth Leaders Forum (NYLF) at the weekend that he had “forgiven” his former deputy for his offences, Atiku responded on kindly on Monday, describing Obasanjo as a “man of peace” whose commitment to Nigeria’s unity is worthy of emulation.
“I welcome the olive branch extended to me by former President Olusegun Obasanjo and urge Nigerians to imbibe the spirit of forgiveness in the interest of national unity”, Atiku said in a statement released in Abuja by his media office.
“Forgiveness is divinely inspired, and is oil that lubricates the wheels of continued human interactions and engagements.
He commended Obasanjo for taking the “bold and Godly step” in the interest of the nation and humanity, saying the process of national reconciliation should advance to a new level and extend to other citizens of the country, who may have had grievances against one another.
He urged politicians to learn from the words of Mahatma Ghandi that ‘an eye for an eye will make our nation go blind’.
“When I made a similar effort few years ago, it was on the conviction that it would not be beneficial to me before Allah, if I went to the grave with bitterness”, Atiku added.
“Let us forgive one another so that we can team up for national rebirth. Even if one disagrees with Obasanjo, no one would doubt his firm commitment to the unity of Nigeria”.