Obasanjo's Library Nets N4bn

  Adenuga, Dangote, Odogwu, Arisekola, Ibru, Governors Top Donor List


DESPITE the reported controversy that trailed its announced launch, the novel idea of establishing Presidential Libraries started by President Roosevelt of United States 69 years ago was enacted in Nigeria yesterday in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

  As at 3.15pm, the project, estimated to cost N7 billion, had realised about N4 billion, as eminent personalities, mostly friends and political associates of President Olusegun Obasanjo, who came from the political and business sectors, tried to outsmart each other by giving the highest donation

  The maximum individual donations came from captains of industry, Chief Mike Adenuga, Alhaji Aliko Dangote and Chief Sunny Odogwu, who donated N250 million, N211.6 million and N200 million respectively.

  While the 36 State governors contributed N360 million, the private sector, N622 million and the Nigerian Ports Authority, $1 million; Chief Arisekola Alao and Olorogun Michael Ibru (chairman of Oceanic Bank Plc) donated N100 million and N50 million in that order

  The project, to be known as Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), is named after the President, who hails from the Owu Quarter of Abeokuta

  Those who spoke at the occasion extolled the exemplary leadership qualities of Obasanjo. Prof. O.O. Akinkugbe said the President's leadership forms the central plank of his exhortation both nationally and internationally.

  He said of Obasanjo: "He appears totally and irrevocably consumed by the credo, 'get leadership right and all else will be added unto it.'   However, he canvassed a responsible followership that demands the regular audit of leaders' performances to ensure that they are deserving of their offices

  Akinkugbe noted that it was a paradox that many in elective offices have no respect for humanity, which they use sparingly and the constituents they so strenuously court while seeking office are abandoned once the object of their desires had been accomplished.   To him, Obasanjo is a great African leader who everyone should be proud of

  Ogun State governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, who is a member of the steering committee of the project, explained that the library is a unique one, as it combines in one location, facilities for rigorous academic work, statesmanly reflection and wholesome recreation.   Daniel said the President had always been at the vanguard and promotion of progressive initiatives around the world. "He has established credible benchmarks for good governance, promoted accountability and nurtured transparency in private and public life."   He described the President's knack for forthrightness and his uncompromising nationalism as "a sine qua non for the new Nigeria that we so much desire and deserve."

  Daniel said the library project was a demonstration of the President's gift for unprecedented innovations in the Nigerian polity and in Africa

  An American, Mr. Carl Masters, who is part of the team handling two projects for the library complex, said if completed, it would be the first of its kind in Africa

  He explained that the project would not be financed by that Federal Government and asked African heads of governments to emulate Obasanjo's example

  Dr. Christopher Kolade, who is the chairman of the team handing the project said when completed, it would add to the nation's intellectual edifices

  Excited President Obasanjo, who was at the hightable with his Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, expressed deep appreciation to the donors and all those that made the occasion successful

  Describing the ceremony as epoch-making in the history of the country stressed that knowledge-building and preservation were necessary for the development of any nation

  "We need to keep institutional memories as well as the nation's memories," he said, adding that history and memories were better kept through collection of information and preservation

  Among the aims of the library, he disclosed, was to keep his life's history as well that of Nigeria as much as possible, assuring that the project would not disturbs his commitment and dedication to the service of Nigeria

  He also assured the donors that they had donated to a worthy cause, which they would never regret

  Some of other donors Chief Sam Nwake, N20 million, Dapo Abiodun (N10m), the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunde Sijuwade (N10 m), Dr Bayo Kuku (N5m), the PDP (N25m), Obasanjo Holdings (N100m), Chief Ernest Sonekan (N1m), Ogun State monarchs (N5m) and all political aides of the President (N2m)