Former Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has recently been in the news for stirring a lot of political drama. However, in a move that defies description, the elder statesman has launched a children’s story book on peace to celebrate the 2015 International Day of Peace.
Chief Obasanjo expressed that his decision to write the book was based on the need to entrench sustainable peace in the country. While this is an important contribution to Nigeria’s current security issues, a lot of citizens have expressed scepticism at his motive and wonder if this new book is just another move in a long list of antics to seek attention.
The book, which is titled Peace Story for Children, is a 14-page booklet illustrated with various cartoons, and is aimed at “sowing the seeds of peace in the minds of children”. However, it is interesting to note that Chief Obasanjo is not the first politician in the world to write a story book for children. The release of his book has placed him in the league of politicians such as Jimmy Carter and Hillary Clinton, who have also dabbled into writing children’s story books.
As far back as 1895, Theodore Roosevelt wrote “Hero Tales from American History” intended for teenagers. Former US President Jimmy Carter’s adorable book, The Little Baby Snoogle-Fleejer, is an inspiring story about a young boy who cannot walk. US PresidentBarack Obama publishedOf Thee I Sing: A Letter to my Daughters, a 40-page picture book that paid tribute to 13 “ground-breaking Americans and the ideals that have shaped [America]”. In 2006, US Senator Edward Kennedy wrote My Senator and Me: A Dog’s Eye View of Washington, D.C., which was a child’s guide to the political process and life in the Senate. Last but not least, current presidential candidate Hillary Clinton compiled Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids’ Letters to the First Pets,while she was still First Lady of the United States. The book is a 208-page children’s book with more than 80 photos of former First pets. Clinton includes 50 letters from children across the US and teaches proper pet care to young readers.
Similarly to Jimmy Carter, Chief Obasanjo became a prolific writer post-presidency and has published fifteen books. His most popular work is his autobiography My Watch which generated controversy upon release and even spawned a law suit and several injunctions.
Although Chief Obasanjo was absent from his book launch which held at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta, Nigeria, he was represented by the Director of the OOPL Centre for Human Security, Prof. Peter Okebukola. The book launch attracted students from various primary and secondary schools in Ogun State, who also participated in a debate titled, “Whose responsibility is it to ensure peace – the people or the Government?”
Dr. Okebuola explained that the book was targeted at children because their minds were more receptive to ideas; Chief Obasanjo’s aim is to instill the culture of peace in Nigeria’s future leaders while they are still young.
Chief Obasanjo already belongs on the list of influential world leaders for his work in Nigeria’s politics over the years. Despite the cynical reception so far, the release of this story book has revealed a softer side to Chief Obasanjo, and establishes his place in the league of world leaders who have written inspiring notes for today’s children.