Obasanjo at 75: Why I am opting for low celebration…relaunches feed nation programme

Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo

Legendary political leader and former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has shunned an elaborate celebration of his 75 th birthday claiming he had nothing to celebrate except marking the occasion in a low key manner to reflect his mood for the nation.

According to him, an elaborate celebration has been pushed forward to the time he would be celebrating his 80 years in five years time, after Nigeria must have attained a high level of self sufficiency in food production.

He howver prayed that God should keep him until he attain 80.

The frontline elder statesman however marked the landmark celebration at the premises of his Presidential Library located along IBB Boulevard, Oke Mosan, Abeokuta, Ogun State, with the launching of two books to commemorate the milestone.

Reflective , pondering, sober and much reserved about the states of the nation, Obasanjo refused to make elaborate speeches claiming that the situation in Nigeria today called for more a more evaluation rather than a birthday celebration.
The passionate nationalist claimed his joy had been dimmed by prevailing insecurity in the country. He listed among other reasons high rate of unemployment, lack of food for the nation and continuous confusing state of the nation’s insecurity, saying he was engaging more in situation assessment at this point in time of the nation’s history.

Birthday legend: Olusegun Obasanjo

He expressed the hope that God would spare his life till the next five years and when he clocks 80, the Nigeria of his dreams must have been achieved and he would celebrate his birthday better.

Speaking at the book launching occasion, the Vice President for the World Bank, Oby Ezekwesili, eulogised the former President, and said that to the people outside Nigeria, Obasanjo is a role model and a leader worthy of emulation.
She urged Nigerians to tap from the wealth of experience of the former president.

She advised Africans to strive to achieve more on food production to achieve food security, and stressed that instead of fighting themselves, they should fight hunger and poverty.

There was side attractions as schools children honoured the occasion with drama presentation to mark the 75th birthday.

However, a new initiative to relaunch Operation Feed Nation (OFN) re emerged on Monday with Delta State serving as a centerfocus of a new to pilot project ‘Feed Africa Programme'( FAP>

The former President  launched the scheme with the goal of fighting off  mal-nutrition and food shortage in the African continent. The project which has been wired to Niger Delta as main project minder it to ensure food security in the country and in the entire African continent.

Speaking at the formal launch of FAP, on Monday, in Abeokuta, Obasanjo said that Delta State would host the pilot scheme given the state’s excellent crave  in agricultural programme and development.

Obasanjo  commended Delta State Government for identifying with the Obasanjo Farms in developing agricultural sector.

In a keynote address, the Vice President (Africa) of the World Bank, Dr Oby Ezekwesili, averred that inadequate investment on irrigation was partly affecting food production in sub-Saharan Africa. She commended Delta State Governmet for identifying with the Feed Africa Programme.

Ezekwesili challenged African leaders to get their priorities right in striving to ensure food security in the continent.
Governor Uduaghan, in his reaction, expressed delight at the choice of the state for the pilot scheme of the Feed Africa Programme.

Speaking during the launching of the programme which was part of activities marking the 75th birthday of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the Governor remarked that agriculture remains a challenge to every government.

While saying that the State Government was pursuing a programme of developing other areas with proceeds from oil, the governor noted that “most times, the success of agriculture was measured by how much fertilizer was given to farmers which he said was wrong”.

Giving insight into the agricultural Programme of his administration since 2007, Governor Uduaghan said a new generation of farmers has emerged from the Youth Empowerment through Agriculture (YETA) scheme with the establishment of cluster farms.

The Governor said infrastructure such as the Asaba Airport, roads and power were being put in place to encourage investors and went on to say that the OFN/Delta Farms Ltd., a joint initiative of the Obasanjo farms and the State Government was presently producing the highest number of poultry in the country.

He also said that as a measure, to further revamp the agricultural sector, the State Government has keyed into the United Nations Climate Change Programme.

“We are concerned with the pollution of our water and the environment. We need to clean up our water and regenerate our soil.” Governor Uduaghan added.

Source Addition:The Nation/Vanguard