Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has admitted at the ceremony marking his 77th birthday in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital, on Wednesday that he did not know his real age, describing the 77th birthday as his “official birthday”.
“There are those of us like me who have no real record of birth. I want to thank God once again for what He has done in my life. Whether I know the exact date of my birth or not, I think God has made my path glorious.
“I was actually born on Ifo market day because according to my mother, she had prepared to go to the Ifo Market and Ifo market was every five days. And then she was in labour, before those who went to Ifo market could come back, I was born. I know and she knew I was born on Ifo market day. Don’t ask me what year or month.”
The age controversy was sparked off by Obasanjo’s close friend and the traditional ruler of his town, the Olowu of Owu, Oba Olusanya Dosunmu, who in his remark at the occasion, said that the two-time leader of the country was actually older than 77 years.
The former President, who spoke amid applause, thanked President Goodluck Jonathan for “congratulating me on this day of my official birthday.”
The event, which was organised by the Centre for Human Security, in conjunction with the UNESCO Institute for African Culture and International Understanding, held at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, in Abeokuta.
The ex-President described himself as a lucky man, saying he would have been “consumed” if God had taken his shortcomings into account.
“I have been very lucky for many things. At one occasion, I said God has never disappointed me and a journalist who thinks that he knows too much asked if I had disappointed God. I said, of course, as long as I am living on flesh and blood, I am liable to be unworthy. In all, I have striven to meet the standard of what God expects of me.
“God has never taken my shortcomings, my failures and all that into account. He hasn’t counted them against me because if He had, I would have been consumed. So, God has really sustained me with His grace, mercy, goodness and compassion.”
Earlier in his goodwill message, Dosunmu described Obasanjo as a “humane” man who never took the issues bordering on Nigerian unity lightly.
“When you speak against the unity of Nigeria, you would see the red of Obasanjo’s eye. It is not by accident, it is in-built. He fears God and honours all human beings,” he said.
Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, said in his remarks that the former President had remained a blessing to the state and the country at large.
“Hate or love Obasanjo, you cannot just take something from him. Obasanjo’s passion for the unity of Nigeria is second to none,” the governor said.