FORMER Head of Interim National Government, Chief Ernest Shonekan, has stressed the need for prominent Nigerians to be role models.
The renowned industrialist said it was important for successful professionals and politicians “to show Nigerians coming behind that it pays to work hard and be conscientious in whatever profession that we are in”.
Shonekan said this in his remarks as special guest of honour at the presentation of a book, Olusegun Obasanjo, Passing the Torch, written by Amb. Albert Omolayo at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta, on Tuesday.
He said raising new leaders “who are imbued with patriotism and total commitement to Nigeria in a plural society like ours is an arduous task, especially with the multifarious ethnic backgrounds that abound in the country”.
He regretted that in spite of former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s contribution to national unity and development, he had yet to be celebrated by Nigerians.
He said, “As I have always said Chief Obasanjo can be likened to the Biblical prophet who is never honoured in his own country and among his people. I say this because those of us who know him can tell you that you may take anything from Chief Obasanjo, you cannot take his love for Nigeria from him. He is exceptionally patriotic.
“He is also a man who is passionate about Nigeria and is always ready to engage anybody who is against the unity of Nigeria. He does not hide this and I think it is a good virtue when a man of his stature and age is still physically and emotionally committed to the unity of the country.”
The former United African Company of Nigeria Chief Executive urged Nigerians to learn to celebrate their heroes.
Shonekan said, “Other countries that we think are better than our country also have their bad sides which they cover. It is only when we celebrate our heroes that emerging leaders can see them more as guiding lights and the heroes can work harder to achieve more for the country.”
Among personalities on the occasion were Mrs. Patience Jonathan and a legal luminary, Chief Afe Babalola.
They also eulogised the outstanding contributions of Obasanjo to the socio-economic and political development of the country, describing the former president as a patriot who had contributed immensely to the attainment of peace and reconciliation within and outside the shores of Nigeria.