Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has warned that Nigeria is slowly becoming a failed state and a basket case that urgently needs to be pulled from the brink of collapse.
Mr. Obasanjo gave the warning in Abuja on Thursday while delivering a speech titled, ‘Moving Nigeria Away from Tipping Over’ at a consultative dialogue, saying he has never seen Nigeria so divided.
The event was attended by various socio-cultural groups including Afenifere, Middle Belt Forum, Northern Elders Forum, Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo and Pan Niger Delta Forum.
According to the former president many of the problems plaguing the country today were due to the recent mismanagement of Nigeria’s diversity by the government of president Muhammadu Buhari.
Obasanjo 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.
“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.”
He described the National Assembly’s fresh constitutional review exercise as a waste of time and resources, hailing socio-cultural groups like NEF and Yoruba Summit Group for rejecting it.
“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 added that only self-deluded people would claim that all is well in Nigeria, regretting that instead of working to fix the country and ensuring that grievances among several units within the country are addressed, some are fixated on the 2023 Presidential election.
He concluded, “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.”