Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Thursday revealed why he greeted President Muhammadu Buhari and took group photograph with him during the African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Obasanjo said he had gone round to greet other African leaders present at the summit and wondered if it could have been easy or polite to ignore Buhari without going to his seat to greet him.
The ex- President spoke in Abeokuta, Ogun State, while fielding questions from journalists shortly after registering his membership of the Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM) at the Secretariat of the Ogun State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ)
Obasanjo said he knew that Nigerians were surprised that he could exchange pleasantries with President Buhari after his lengthy statement chronicling the ills of the administration.
“I wonder why some Nigerians were worried why I had to pay respect to the Nigerian President. That’s my own upbringing as a well-born and bred Yoruba boy.
“That doesn’t mean that what I have said about the President, which I did not say out of bitterness and hatred has been thrown away. It is clear that the President has performed, in some areas, good enough, in other areas not good and [I’ve given him] a proper advice which he may take and may not take.
“I didn’t do that out of malice or bad belle. I did it out of my respect for that office and my interest and I hope in your interest and the interest of Buhari in Nigeria.
“I went to him just before the beginning of the AU summit. I had gone round some few other Presidents and should I ignore him? So, I went to my President, greeted him and we joked before Gen. Salami said we should have a group photograph,” Obasanjo said.
He, however, assured that the CNM is not like every other movement in town, saying the one being championed today (Thursday) is a big masquerade and urged Nigerians to join.
He added: “There are other movements but we, as far as I know, have no direct or indirect relationship with any other movements. We do not.
“But as I said, if there are people of like minds, people who shared the view and the aims and objectives of Coalition for Nigeria Movement who want their members to join this movement, we will not object. We will welcome them.
“But to the best of my knowledge, this is a movement that has no relationship with any other movement that I know of.
“This is the new message in town, the new dance in town, the ceremony in town and I will appeal to you to join this ceremony and dance in town because there may be many masquerades.
“And those of you who had my own type of background, when we were growing up, we were playing masquerades too. But those were small masquerades, but when big masquerades come out, the small masquerade must come out. I appeal to you to join the ceremony, the dance and the message.”