Obasanjo to critics: Mourn me the way you like when l die/ Obasanjo

Former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo, says his critics are free to mourn him the way they like when he dies.

The erstwhile President stated this while responding to criticisms trailing his recent comment over his condolence message on the demise of a former senator, Buruji Kashamu, who died from COVID-19 complications.

Obasanjo, had in the said condolence message, aimed a thinly-veiled dig at the late former senator, noting he could not escape death despite possessing the wit to evade justice over alleged wrongdoing while he was alive. 

He had said: “Senator Esho Jinadu (Buruji Kashmu) in his lifetime used the manoeuvre of law and politics to escape from facing justice on alleged criminal offence in Nigeria and outside Nigeria.

“But no legal, political, cultural, social or even medical manoeuvre could stop the cold hands of death when the Creator of all of us decides that the time is up.

“May Allah forgive his sin and accept his soul into Aljanah, and may God grant his family and friends fortitude to bear the irreparable loss."

His comment had opened the floodgates for criticisms, with many prominent figures including Ayo Fayose, former governor of Ekiti State, bashing the former president.

But reacting to the criticisms trailing his comment, Obasanjo said he remains unperturbed by those saying people would also criticise him when he dies.

According to him, his condolence message was only in line with age-long practice of reflecting on the life and times of the death and drawing useful lessons for those still alive.

“When I was growing up, in our community, when anyone known with bad character died, we usually only mourn him and bury him. No eulogy. No praise-singing," he told Premium Times.

“There is an English saying that urges us never to talk ill of the dead. But in this case, we are not talking ill of the dead. We are only drawing lessons from the life and history of the dead. I am not gloating over his death. It is sad for anyone to die and we must mourn him.

“But we must learn from such a passage. There will be bad lessons. There will be good lessons. But we should not just be praise-singing or eulogising the dead, especially when there is no need to do so.

“We should not cover up bad histories and conducts so that the right lessons can be learnt.

“As you know, I say my mind as truthfully as I know them and in line with my convictions. People are free to say whatever they want about my comment. I don’t begrudge people for holding opinions on whatever I say or do.

“Let people say whatever they like when I transit. Now that I am alive, am I not being abused? Whenever I transit, let people say whatever they know or think about me. Let them say it as it is. What my maker thinks of me is what matters most."