A former governor of Ondo State, Olusegun Mimiko, on Monday said that the Nigerian economy has failed.
Mr Mimiko spoke at the opening ceremony of the 70th birthday celebration of poet and author, Odia Ofeimun, themed “Taking Nigeria Seriously: A Conference in Honour of Odia Ofeimun”.
The event, held at the Julius Berger Hall of the University of Lagos campus, was chaired by Rauf Aregbesola, Nigeria’s Minister of Interior.
Speaking at the event, the former governor noted that the unemployment situation in the country ”speaks to the poor state of the economy”.
“Again, you don’t need to tell anybody that the economy in Nigeria has failed,” he said. “The level of failure of our economy is on the streets.”
Mr Mimiko said that irrespective of what the Nigerian bureau of statistics says about unemployment, if everything is factored into the mix, graduate unemployment should be “more than eighty per cent.”
“That’s why there is cultism, there is violence,” the former governor said.
“The young ones have no Biodun Jeyifos, no G.G Daras, there is no Osofisan to look up to. They only look up to Marley… Marley Naira or whatever.”
On the subject of restructuring, Mr Mimiko argued that various developments across different parts of the country speak to the exigencies of restructuring the nation.
He explained that the emergence of the Amotekun security outfit in the South-west brought about the South-south regional security initiative and other regions have since joined the fray.
Guests at the eventHe said: “Restructuring, whether we like it or not, is an idea whose time has come. And the signs are absolutely clear. The level of insecurity in Nigeria today is self-evident. You don’t really need any “Fulanisation” mystification to see it. Nigeria is insecure. The dialectics of insecurity in Nigeria is pointing in only one direction: a centralised police system cannot police Nigeria.
“And it is so evident; it is so compelling, that even the high priests of unitary government could not stop the Amotekun phenomenon. There was no way they could stop it. As a matter of fact, the day the Attorney General made a pronouncement against Amotekun, that was the catalyst the South-west needed to actually endorse the Amotekun phenomenon.”
Mr Mimiko argued that a combination of a failed economy and insecurity have given room to sundry mechanisms put in place across the geo-political zones, in forms of regional economic and security outfits.
“Restructuring is coming; the situation, the objective facts, the dialectics of insecurity, failed economy itself, is producing insecurity and nobody is going to stop it. It has started. Look at our population explosion. In 1960, Britain was 52.5 million, Nigeria was 47 million. In 2019, Britain is still 67.7 million and we are 203 million and we are still growing. Our infrastructure, the growth rate cannot sustain it.
“There is no question about the fact that the reality of the economy of Nigeria itself, will self-propel restructuring. The more we realise this, the better.”
Responding to an earlier intervention by G.G Dara, a professor of Oral Literature, Mr Mimiko said the problem of Nigeria isn’t entirely about any “Fulanisation” agenda.
“I think we even tend to over-mystify the Fulanis,” he said. “Obasanjo was not a Fulani person; Jonathan was not a Fulani person. The major progressive wing of the Nigerian polity brought the Fulani back to power.”
He argued that with the fall of the Berlin wall and Marxism, there has not been any ideological rallying point for the progressives in Nigeria.
“The neo-liberalism took over,” he said, adding that even when the best of so-called progressives had an opportunity to govern, they embraced neo-liberalism and everything has collapsed.
“The challenge – either restructure or no restructure – is what ideology, what worldview, are we going to restructure Nigeria around?” Mr Mimiko said.
Mr Mimiko also eulogised the celebrant, Odia Ofeimun, whom he jokingly said had “cheated Nigeria” by scaling through the life expectancy age benchmark. He described the poet as a lover of the country from whose wealth of knowledge people of the younger generation can tap.
Earlier in their remarks, the guest lecturer, Biodun Jeyifo, renown lawyer and activist, Femi Falana, and Mr Aregbesola eulogised the celebrant.
The two-day event continues Tuesday with a dinner at the Hall of the University of Lagos Guest House.
According to details made available to the public by the organising committee, the dinner will be chaired by Mr Falana.