- Urges Afenifere, Northern Elders Forum, Ohanaeze, PANDEF To Promote National Unity
By Hamilton Nwosa( Head, The New Diplomat’s Polling, Research and data desk)
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has again lamented that Nigeria is gradually becoming a divided country with divisive tendencies under President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. Obasanjo served Nigeria first as military Head of State between 1976-1979, and later as elected civilian president from 1999-2007.
Obasanjo who was also accused of toying with the idea of elongating his tenure then through a purported third term agenda which was truncated by the Senate has been quite vocal in recent time.
The former President who spoke about divisive issues confronting Nigeria in Abuja while delivering a speech entitled, ‘Moving Nigeria Away from Tipping Over’ 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, urged all socio-cultural groups to forge national unity rather than promote divisive practices.
Obasanjo who lamented that he has never seen Nigeria under a very divisive atmosphere as the country currently faces declared that the challenges besetting the country need to be resolved urgently in order to pull the country from the brink of collapse.
He said: “I do appreciate that you all feel sad and embarrassed as most of us feel as Nigerians with the situation we find ourselves in.
“Today, Nigeria is fast drifting to a failed and badly divided state; 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.
“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.”
Obasanjo who cautioned advocates of separatism and secession to have a rethink as all citizens need one another just as all ethnic nationalities need to live together happily.
He explained: “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 also described the National Assembly’s fresh constitutional review exercise as a waste of time and resources. He said: “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 who ruled Nigeria, first as military Head of State and later as civilian president who was also obsessed with a third term agenda while in office said all is not well with Nigeria at the moment.
He said: “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.”
Obasanjo also condemned politicians who are currently scheming for roles in 2023 presidential race. He 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.”