Nigeria’s former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, has denounced his Christian name, Matthew, Leadership reports.
He declared his desire not to be addressed by the name yesterday, July 14, in Abuja while speaking during an event organised by the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) in commemoration of his 80th birthday celebration.
Obasanjo said he should no more be called Matthew because he is not a tax collector like his biblical namesake.
Accordingly, he adopted only Olusegun Okikiola Aremu as his names, even as he pointed out that names have lots of connotations in the African setting.
The former president went on to warn that anybody who does not want to see his (Obasanjo’s) eyes red should stop calling him Matthew.
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo explained that his decision was based on the fact that Matthew in the Bible was known as a stupid tax collector.
Obasanjo who turned 80 years in March this year said, “When I was born in my part of Nigeria, the system was that after eight days, you must be given a name and for people to know that you were born into a Christian family, you will be given one Hebrew name.
“My mother and father decided to name me Matthew but when I grew up, I started asking myself the meaning of Matthew. Not only does it not have meaning as long as I am concerned, the biblical Matthew is a stupid tax collector. Anybody who does not want to see my eyes red should stop calling me Matthew”.
While commending the presidential system of election and governance used by the NSE, Obasanjo wh=ished that it could be introduced into Nigerian politics.
He highlighted the disparities among engineers, doctors and lawyers, noting that they were three famous professionals in the country at a time, though Post masters, police, teachers and station masters were in existence.
“If a doctor makes mistake in a patient, it is only one patient that will die; if a lawyer makes mistake on his client, the client will go to prison but if an engineer makes mistake, it is a disaster and tragedy. If an engineer builds a house or bridge and it collapses, many people will die and not one person will go to prison”, the former Nigerian leader explained.
The octogenarian appreciated the President of NSE, Engr Oliver Tagbo Anyaeji and other members of the engineering bodies for the honour bestowed on him.
Also speaking at the event was the President of NSE, Engr Oliver Tagbo Anyaeji who noted that Obasanjo successfully initiated and pioneered the establishment of an Engineering and Technology University (Bells) as well as the state-of-art presidential library in Ota, Ogun State, which considered as first of its kind in Africa.
“While it will be pretty difficult to bring to the fore all the achievements of this world acclaimed achiever, I wish to mention that President Obasanjo initiated the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP)in 2005 and directed by policy that Nigerian engineering firms must get at least 25 percent of exhausted project scope”, he stated.
Speaking on the topic: ‘Engineers in Politics’, the Chairman Senate Committee on Housing, Sen Barnabas Gemade noted that controversies are necessary ingredients to politicking geared towards perfection, adding that “when politicians begin to exhibit political activities, Nigerians will think the world is coming to an end”.
He described Obasanjo as a man greatly loved by Nigerians, stressing that in the midst of every controversy, Obasanjo’s aim was to achieve perfection and make the country better than it was.
Gemade noted that every reform initiated in Nigeria was centred upon the works of Obasanjo who he said created a national investment promotion council that united all business establishments under one umbrella.
Speaking on Obasanjo’s achievement in Engineering Education, Prof Micheal Faborode, said that Nigeria’s academics are not the worst paid in Africa, adding that Nigeria has more private universities in the country due to Obasanjo’s initiatives and foresight.