Muhammadu Buhari has warmly congratulated ex-president Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in an early message for his 79 birthday on March 5, Saturday.
Femi Adesina, presidential media aide issued a statement saying that Buhari affirms that the ex-president, who is approaching the octogenarian cycle, has contributed immensely to the institutionalization of democracy in Nigeria and Africa through his personal sacrifice, extensive local and international networks, and God-given wisdom.
The statement reads in part: “President Buhari believes that Chief Obasanjo’s place in global history is assured for successfully handing over power to a civilian government in 1979 after serving as a military Head of State, and returning to power in 1999 through elections to stabilize the polity, during which he most remarkably negotiated a debt relief for Nigeria.
“The president warmly commends Chief Obasanjo’s vision and commitment to the growth of Nigeria and Africa, which translated into a historical growth rate of 6 percent for the Nigerian economy after a long period of slow growth, and also created a rippling effect that buoyed other African economies.
“As he turns 79, the president avers that the former president’s regular shuttles across Nigeria and Africa to counsel on economic, social and political issues, and his willingness to head election monitoring teams that have heralded smooth transitions in many countries are legacies which generations will remain grateful.
“President Buhari prays that the Almighty God will grant the Balogun of the Owu lineage, who is also the Ekerin Balogun of the Egba clan, long life and strength to continue his service to humanity.”
A Nigerian of Yoruba descent, Obasanjo was a career soldier before serving twice as Nigeria’s head of state, once as a military ruler, between 13 February 1976 to 1 October 1979 and again from 29 May 1999 to 29 May 2007, as elected president.
President Buhari and Obasanjo are in good relations. Ex-president supported Buhari during the last year presidential campaign.
Before the elections Obasanjo had been in the news in connection with his purported endorsement of Buhari. Reacting to the reports, meanwhile, the politician was not so specific about his position as he insisted that he would vote for the candidate with the best track of record.