“Atiku never claimed to be a saint and I never described him as such. I will never so describe any human being alive let alone calling him a Messiah,” he said.
“On an occasion in the past when I said that someone was not a Messiah, some Nigerians out of bad belle were up in arms. For me, as a Christian, the only Messiah I know and have is Jesus Christ and even then, the man aspect of Him was imperfect while the divine aspect of Him was perfectly messianic.
“I must reiterate that Atiku is not a saint and who is? But from what I know of Atiku, he will be a performer in all respects. I can say that again from my personal experience.
“A leader must be honest to himself and to the people he serves or he wants to serve. He must identify and acknowledge his situation, mistakes, shortcomings and inadequacy; show remorse where and when he has erred, seek forgiveness and repent; and not passing the bulk or keep blaming others and fail to accept responsibility.
“Atiku accepts responsibility for his mistakes, shows remorse and seeks forgiveness from his political party and subsequently from Nigerians. He asked for forgiveness from me and as a believer, a Christian as such, I forgave him in accordance with the teaching and instruction of my Saviour.
“If anybody blames me for forgiving Atiku, I leave such a person with God Almighty, especially as both Christian and Islamic clerics joined Atiku to visit me to seek forgiveness. Anybody who does not forgive when forgiveness is sought with contrite heart cannot be a true believer and should not expect the forgiveness of God.”
Obasanjo added that Atiku has a good understanding of the problems confronting Nigeria.
“As a leader, you must understand the fundamentals of the problems you have to solve and be courageous, visionary and ready to reach out sufficiently to build a credible team of experts, knowledgeable men and women, concerned and interested citizens and non-citizens to work hard and tirelessly for solutions that will benefit all Nigerians and indeed Africans and humanity,” he said.
He must have ability to build a credible team, lead them, listen to them and give them enough leeway to achieve and make meaningful contribution without abdicating his responsibility. He must be accessible to them. From my personal knowledge of Atiku, he has these qualities.
‘BOTH ATIKU AND BUHARI HAVE ISSUES’
He also said neither the PDP presidential candidate nor President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is a saint but one was better than the other.
“We now know that both Buhari and Atiku have issues and all of us as human beings have one issue or the other in different magnitude but judging both of them empirically and for the task at hand, Atiku will perform much better than Buhari and he will seek for good and able people around the country and beyond and make use of them to achieve his mission and vision for the general good of Nigerians and the country.
“He will be a team leader but will not allow the seizure of his mandate by a cabal. A system to prevent impunity and ‘I can do what I like’ attitude and action must be put in place for all concerned. It is more than check and balance, rather it is for the good of all stakeholders and equity-holders.”
‘WHY ATIKU WAS NEVER CALLED ACTING PRESIDENT’
Obasanjo also said no president in the history of the country gave his deputy more opportunities than he did to Atiku.
He also spoke on why Atiku was not designated “acting president”, taunting Buhari.
“One of the most ridiculous claims I have heard on these issues is that I did not give Atiku chance to preside over the federal executive council because I did not trust him,” he said.
“That was not correct because he had occasions to preside on a few times that I was out of the country on duty. On those occasions, he was in charge of the Federal Executive Council meetings.
“And no Nigerian Chief Executive has devolved to his deputy as much as I did to Atiku. I did not need to designate him Acting President because the Constitution is clear, once the President is not available, the Vice-President automatically acts with full powers and he consults where and if he considers it necessary. But since I was not absent from home for 104 days at a time, people may not know that Atiku actually stood in for me whenever I was out.”