Abacha almost killed me, says Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, on Friday, stated that there was no alternative to democracy, as he almost lost his life to a dictator under a military rule.

He said this on Friday at his Presidential Hilltop residence in Abeokuta, when officials of the National Association of Nigerian Students and some students union leaders from various institutions paid him a visit.

Obasanjo and some other retired military officers and civilians were jailed in 1995 by the military government of the late Gen. Sani Abacha, after he was found guilty by a military tribunal of allegedly plotting to overthrow Abacha’s administration.


They were released after the dictator’s death in 1998.

Narrating his near-death experience under Abacha’s regime, the former President said he would support the current democratic dispensation led by President Muhammadu Buhari to succeed.

He said, “I will work for the success of this current dispensation. There is no excuse, because there is no alternative to democracy.

“The alternative to democracy is worse than democracy. I experienced that. Abacha put me in prison and I was about to be killed. If it was under democracy (democratic rule), that would not happen.”

Obasanjo further said no matter what critics of President Buhari might be saying, Nigerians had started to witness a Nigeria of their dreams in the last two and half months.

He noted that the country had tottered toward the precipice so many times, but God had not allowed it to tumble.

Obasanjo said, “When one takes a look at everything, the most crucial and vital conclusion is that God loves Nigeria. The nation has gone towards the precipice many times and Nigeria did not tumble, this shows God is a Nigerian.

“Many had thought after the 2015 general elections Nigeria will be no more. Some had sent their families abroad. Some know the National Democratic Coalition route; I don’t know the NADECO route.

“I don’t have anywhere to go. But to the surprise of many of them, God did it in a miraculous way. The election took place, though some did not want it to take place. But let us thank God it took place. We must also thank those who conducted the elections.

“We thank God for peace even after the election. No single individual is a paragon of perfection. There is no Messiah except Jesus Christ. But there are people who still stick out their necks for the good of Nigerians.

“Thank God we have such as a leader now. What we have witnessed in the last two and a half months is that our dreams are coming true. We must give unalloyed support to the government. Criticisms that are objective and positive are welcome where necessary.”

Responding to a question on whether President Buhari took a right decision by giving the military a November deadline to end Boko Haram insurgency, the former president said it was a right decision.

He said setting a target was part of military war strategy to measure the success or failure of a particular operation.

Obasanjo said, “President Muhammadu Buhari took a right decision by telling the military to quash the Boko Haram insurgents by November.

“It is not good to just leave everything open-ended. It is a strategy in the military to set a target for any operation. This will enable those concerned to work hard. Having a target is necessary. Even if that target was not met, the people concerned would have something to work with.”

Obasanjo cited the Nigerian Civil War as an example, saying the military had set a six-month target to crush the Biafran renegades, but the war extended to 30 months.