Obasanjo: Nobody should call me Mathew again – he was a tax collector

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo arrives at Jakarta Convention Center to attend the Asia Africa Summit 2005, in Jakarta 22 April 2005. A summit of Asian and African leaders opened in Jakarta on Friday gathering almost 50 heads of state from both continents amid tensions between two of the most prominent delegations, Japan and China. AFP PHOTO/CHOO YOUN-KONG

Olusegun Obasanjo, former President, says he no longer wants to be addressed by the name ‘Mathew’, even though it was given to him by his parents.

Obasanjo said he was jettisoning the name because the Biblical character, Mathew, whom he was named after, was a tax collector.

“People ask, what is in a name? For me, there is so much in a name,” he said.

“When I was born, my mother and father decided to name me Matthew. I grew up being called and addressed Matthew. What is the meaning of Matthew in The Bible? He was a tax collector.

“So, when I grew up, I dropped Matthew from my name. If anyone does not want to see my eyes red, no one should call me Matthew again.”

Obasanjo was speaking at an event organised by the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) to mark his 80th birthday in Abuja on Friday. His birthday was on March 5.

He urged the engineers to be diligent and to always strive for perfection as their profession gives no room for imperfection.

“A doctor’s mistake often leads to the death of one patient,” he said.

“A lawyer’s mistake leads to the client going to jail. But if an engineer makes a mistake that leads to the collapse of a bridge or house, many people would lose their lives.

“That is why engineers must be very careful and must be efficient not to allow mistakes to be made,.”

Also speaking at the event, Otis Anyaeji, National President of the NSE, eulogized Obasanjo for his commitment to the growth and development of Nigerian engineers.

“I wish to mention that Obasanjo initiated the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) in 2005 and directed by policy that Nigerian engineering firms must get at least 25 per cent of each project scope,” Anyaeji said.

“That was how out of 120 engineering firms that participated in NIPP, 83 of them were Nigerian.”

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