Gen. Obasanjo Rtd. and former Nigerian President at 84
Nigeria’s former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday marked his 84th birthday with a colloquium at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
At the event, the former President disclosed for the first time how he sometimes ago tested positive to the dreaded coronavirus (COVID-19) and how he survived the ailment. He said he was relieved 72 hours later when subsequent tests came out negative.
The colloquium, which took place simultaneously both online and offline had as its topic, ‘Reflection on Governance and Changes for Post-pandemic Leadership in Africa’, with hundreds of people in Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Singapore and Nigeria participating virtually.
On his COVID-19 scare, Obasanjo told his audience that, “It will surprise you that I was tested positive for COVID-19. I called them to come and test me, they came on a Saturday, I didn’t get the result until Wednesday and it came out positive, but I didn’t see any symptoms. They came three days after they tested me and said I am negative – that is three days after I tested positive.”
He said he was a bit concerned about it and had to call his daughter, Dr. Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, that he was not having any symptom but had COVID-19 test from sample extracted from him reading positive.
The elder statesman said Iyabo’s verdict was that the result might be faulty and required further tests. According to him, subsequent tests 72 hours later, all certified him negative to the virus.
He said, “Since then, I have tested three times negative; so, if you want to come near me, you can come near me. It is nothing to worry about, when I was tested positive, my household was running from me, I told them to stay in their place while I stay in mine.”
Obasanjo, therefore, advised people not to be afraid to come quite close to felicitating with him on his birthday because of the dread of COVID-19 infection, saying he had tested negative three times.
“God has continued to be compassionate and merciful to Nigeria and the rest of Africa; if the Coronavirus had come in the manner of Ebola in Africa with its devastation, no amount of social or physical distancing would have saved the continent. I wondered how much social distancing requirement would have been able to accomplish in Mushin, Lagos, where eight people live in one room or Ajegunle, also in Lagos, where no fewer than 10 people occupy 12 by 12 room,” he said.
On why the pandemic did not wreak havoc in Africa like it did in America, Europe and Asia, Obasanjo said many had attributed Africa’s luck to genetics, heat and peculiar food in the environment, but stressed that “for whatever might be the plausible explanation, God’s finger cannot be ruled out.”
He also lamented that the coronavirus spread to many nations of the world was because the United States under the administration of former President Donald Trump was passive in addressing the public challenge.
“Trump spent all his time dismissing the danger as Chinese virus until it became a global problem,” he recalled.