The former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has said Nigeria is slowly becoming a failed, divided state, and the poverty capital of the world.
Mr Obasanjo who said he has never seen the country in such a bad state, blamed the current state of the country on poor management of the nation’s diversity.
He made the statement 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, Punch Newspaper reports.
While he warned against the call for war and secession, the former president said for Nigeria to successfully tackle its challenges, the problem of disunity must first be addressed.
“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.”
Addressing the leaders of the socio-cultural groups at the meeting, Mr Obasanjo said if Nigerians are ready to live together in understanding, mutual respect and love with equity, justice, inclusiveness while engendering sense of belonging and unity of purpose, internal issues of terrorism, organised crimes, banditry, kidnapping, human trafficking, drug, money laundering and corruption will be dealt with.
Constitution Review, a waste without end
The former president further described the proposed review of the Nigerian constitution as a money-gulping activity and veritable source of waste without end.
One major problem, he said, is little or no dialogue as leaders keep old prejudices and biases. He also praised groups like the Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF) for openly posing the constitutional review as well.
“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,” he said.
Mr Obasanjo expressed optimism that the consultation among the several groups would enlarge the circle from the mini-dialogue group in bits until a national dialogue that could save Nigeria from disintegration was reached.
His comments come about two weeks after the NEF opposed the proposed review of the Nigerian constitution by the Senate describing it as a waste of time and resources.
The forum said the huge monetary allocation for the constitution review process since 1999 has made little or no meaningful impact on the lives of Nigerians
Too much ado about 2023
Only self-deluded people would claim that all is well in Nigeria, Mr Obasanjo said as he wondered why leaders are more fixated on the 2023 elections rather than addressing the ills ravaging the nation.
“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.
“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.”
Elites from other tribes responsible for Nigeria’s current state – BMO
Meanwhile, the Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) has blamed the “failed” state of the nation on the elite from other tribes.
Chairman of the group, Niyi Akinsiju, while reacting to the Mr Obasanjo’s comments, said Nigerian political elite complain just like he is doing now when their personal interests are not being serviced. He insisted the President Muhammadu Buhari is doing a good job and moving the nation in the right direction.
“One would expect people like former President Obasanjo to behave like a statesman and not serve as a distraction.
“The President Muhammadu Buhari is doing what every sensible leader should do – put the interest of the majority of Nigerians first. Most of our fault lines which Obasanjo is talking about today are creations of the selfish interests of the elite which have no economic consequences. Most of our elite advance these fault lines to further their interests,” Punch quoted him as saying.