After several months of reticence, former President Olusegun Obasanjo has opened up on the state of the nation and concluded that Nigeria is teetering on the brink of collapse.
Fearing that Nigeria is fast drifting to a failed and badly divided state, Obasanjo said:“Economically our country is becoming a basket case and poverty capital of the world, and socially, we are firming up as an unwholesome and insecure country. I do appreciate that you all feel sad and embarrassed as most of us feel as Nigerians with the situation we find ourselves in.
“And these manifestations are the products of recent mismanagement of diversity and socio-economic development of our country. Old fault lines that were disappearing have opened up in greater fissures and with drums of hatred, disintegration and separation and accompanying choruses being heard loud and clear almost everywhere.”
“With what I have seen, read and heard from the rapprochement that you are forging together, I see a ray of hope that Nigeria can be saved from disintegration.
“If we are ready to live together in understanding, mutual respect and love with equity, justice, inclusiveness while engendering sense of belonging and unity of purpose and all hands on deck, we can deal with internal issues of terrorism, organised crimes, banditry, kidnapping, human trafficking, drug, money laundering and corruption. We will then be able to deal successfully with any incoming attack of terrorism, organised crimes, etc; from outside.”
Obasanjo spoke in Abuja at a consultative dialogue attended by various socio-cultural groups including Afenifere, Middle Belt Forum, Northern Elders Forum, Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo, and Pan Niger Delta Forum.
The former President’s text was entitled, “Moving Nigeria Away from Tipping Over’’.
Persecondnews recalls that Obasanjo had written several letters and tirades to President Muhammadu Buhari on the state of the nation and governance in the country which had triggered mixed reactions.
He believed that many of the problems facing the country were as a result of the “recent mismanagement of Nigeria’s diversity’’ and therefore, needed urgently to be rescued from the brink of collapse.
According to Obasanjo, who called the shots as president from 1999 to 2007, if Nigeria is to successfully tackle its challenges, it must first address the problem of disunity because a house divided could not achieve much success.
He lauded socio-cultural groups present at the meeting, noting that their coming together was a good sign.
Obasanjo, who also ruled Nigeria as military leader in 1976 to 1979 and handed over power to the civilians, said only self-deluded people would claim that all is well with Nigeria.
“I believe Nigeria is worth saving on the basis of mutuality and reciprocity and I also believe it can be done through the process of dialogues rather than talking at each other or resorting to violence.
“It will amount to dangerous and destructive self-delusion for anybody to claim that all is well in Nigeria today,” he said, pointing out that rather than work on fixing the country and ensuring that grievances among several units within the country are addressed, some are fixated on the 2023 Presidential election.
Obasanjo said: “Some people are obsessed with 2023, I believe that with death, destruction, debt, disease, deceit, disbelief, disenchantment, doubt, and suspicion around, we need to see our way through to 2023 and beyond in some form of unity of purpose, reasonable security, shared values, true democratic practice, inclusiveness and shared society.
“That is why we are here. No constitution is even permanent; it is dynamic with time and experience.”
On those beating drums of war and calling for secession, Obasanjo said they should remember that if Nigeria broke into several countries, the citizens would still be neighbours and would need to interact with one another.
On the amendment of the 1999 Constitution, Obasanjo described the National Assembly’s fresh attempt at a review as a waste of time and resources and also lauded socio-cultural groups such as NEF and Yoruba Summit Group for seeing the exercise as such.
“That ray of hope was somewhat manifested in the last 10 days or so when the Northern Elders Forum and Yoruba Summit Group complemented each other in their separate press releases on the Senate’s idea of inviting submissions from Nigerian public for constitution amendment which had been regular money-gulping activity by every National Assembly session since 1999, a veritable source of waste without end.
“I believe one of our major problems in the past was that we did not dialogue enough, we talk at ourselves and selfishly keep old prejudices and biases. If we show understanding, give-and-take, love of one another and commitment and love of the country, we will do what is right and stand firmly together for the good of all,’’ the former president said.
He was, however, optimistic that the consultation among the several groups would enlarge the circle from the mini-dialogue group bit by bit until a national dialogue that could save Nigeria from disintegration was reached. When that is done, he said the initiative would come to an end.