The Letterman: OBJ hails ‘amazing’ book, announces preferred title

The Letterman: OBJ hails ‘amazing’ book, announces preferred title
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has advised leaders and all Nigerians to leave a legacy of selfless service that would live beyond them.

Obasanjo gave the advice on Thursday in Abuja at the launch of a book titled,”The Letterman: Inside the ‘Secret’ Letters of former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo”, authored by Musikilu Mojeed, investigative journalist, media guru, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Premium Times.

The Elder statesman who said the author of the book did an amazing job, said his letters were nothing of any personal interest to him but for the good of the communities, Nigeria, and the world at large.

He said,”I found this really amazing good. I have finished reading it and I will ask you to try and read it. There are many things that Musikilu said that I have forgotten and he dug them up and presented them. And when I read some of the letters, I marvelled.

“I believe very much in letter writing, and I don’t believe that letter writing is out of date because you have to communicate and how then do you communicate except you will seat down in a relaxed atmosphere, you have something to convey and you put it down cleanly, clearly and pass it to somebody whom you want to communicate, and I don’t see any substitute to that.

“Letter writing is also an act, Bishop Kukah when he was talking to me about this book after he has read it he said the language. Of course you must be very careful in the choice of your language so that you convey what really want to convey unmistakably, directly and depending what you want to put into it, but your letter must be such that is relevant, realistic, purposeful, and goes to the point to address the issue you want to address succinctly and clearly, it must also stand the test of time. I will say almost all the letters stand the test of time whether it letter on apartheid in South Africa or between Nkomo and Mugabe, they are letters that we can say stand the test of time.

“And then when I read some of the letters in the book as put by Musikilu and said to myself, some of you had said that, what gave me the courage. So, I then look at the letters of this book and I said well if you asked me to give it a title, and not title of “Letterman”, I will title it ,”Audacity of an Optimist”.

This, as many here will agree, is a call up to investigative practice and interpretative narratives that lead to an understanding of events rooted in the synthesizing power of history, rather than the mere retailing of facts. This is test of knowledge production.

“This challenge of knowledge creation is therefore central to the mission of Premium Times, and this is executed, in part, through the PT Books process. Today’s launch of The Letterman strongly illustrates this point, and as reader of this very revelatory work will find out,” he said.

Olorunyomi revealed that The Letterman
promises a shrewd insight into the complexion and texture of an epoch-making moment in the broad historiography of leadership in Nigeria.

He said,”Mojeed’s deft strategy of weaving the past with its persistent values, to the present with its fleeting anxieties, is such a decent execution of what appears to be an improbable matrimony of history and journalism. Paired with his tactical insistence on interpretations, and on the keen
understanding of events, rather than merely chronicling them, Mojeed lifts the work to the heights of professional history, restoring its authenticity away from what a 1 9th century novelist, Zola, had called the vulgar nudity of facts.

“This work is also a metaphor for the Nigerian media, particularly in an election season, for the sub-text of all the letters in this book ultimately speaks to the key concern for the need for democratic governance of which goal is how to build states that are effective, responsive to social needs, inclusive, and accountable to citizens. Thus, we are reminded that if the practice of democracy will endure in our country, the media must insist on being sentinels of its enduring values: protecting citizen’s right to choose and replace those who govern them in a free and fair election; insisting on citizen’s right to participate in politics and civic life as citizens; demanding that citizens enjoy equality before the law, and that the human rights of all citizens be of utmost protection. This is the context that produced The Letterman, let us not forget.

“The fog that envelopes our democracy today is therefore not just a question of whether democracy is good or bad. The media has an utmost duty to be thoughtful sentinels, to provide the fora for respectful, insightful, and informed debates. Importantly, reminding citizens, as Sir Donald McKinnon urged us, that: “Democracy is not a destination but a journey.

“I hope that very institution, political party, and individual citizen will make it their business to be part of that journey.”

Former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan who was unavoidably absent at the occasion was represented by Chief Osita Chidoka.

The high point of the event was the launch of the book by dignitaries which includes former Governor of Bayelsa state, Seriake Dickson, among others.

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