FORMER Nigeria’s President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has lamented Nigeria’s current situation, with an emphasis that the country is politically divided and economically disunited.
Expressing the same concern, the director-general, World Trade Organisation, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and a former president of the Nigeria Bar Association, Olisa Agbakogba, made some efforts at proffering solutions.
Obasanjo and the others spoke on Saturday, September 24 at the 113th anniversary of King’s College, Lagos.
He said, ‘‘We are politically divided, economically disunited, we are nowhere, we are down the drain. Diplomatically, Nigeria is not at the table. Before, we had sent troops to Sudan, Sierra Leone, etc, but today, we can’t send troops to the Republic of Benin.”
According to him, there are three races in the world – white, yellow, and black. For now, he said, America is leading the whites, the Chinese are leading the yellow race, and Nigeria with 225 million people, was created by God to lead the black race.
“When we stop disappointing ourselves, we can take care of the continent and the black race. Nigeria has no business with poverty, insecurity, or political division,” he said.
The anniversary, titled, ‘Building the Nigeria of our Dreams,’ was organised by the King’s College Old Boys’ Association.
Obasanjo, who led the Kingsweek 2022 colloquium held at the school’s premises, said Nigeria as a country was poor, insecure, and had other challenges because of its choice of leaders.
He said, ‘‘It is the advertently or inadvertently choice of our leaders. It is not God’s choice for us. If God hasn’t chosen that for us, then we can do better. For Nigeria, we have done a few things right but we have not continued to do it right. We need a government that understands Nigeria and Africa, which will be fair and sincere with Nigerians. Together with the right government, this nation can become the right leading country to develop Africa.’’
In her speech, Okonjo-Iweala said her dream was for a Nigeria in which 95 per cent of the people would have access to potable water, quality education, and more women participation in the political and economic life of the country.
She said, ‘‘Nigeria can fight poverty, and improve people’s lives if it is properly managed. Our revenue sources are not diversified; we depend only on one revenue. Nigeria lacks a sacrosanct social compact in the country. There should be a guideline that dictates certain things that should be sacrosanct. We should have guiding principles to decide how we manage, save, spend and take vigorous actions on our revenues. As a country, we need to have certain indicators of how our economy should be governed. If we do this, we have so much to gain.
‘‘We have had episodes showing we can sustain strong growth; all we need is to work on all key indicators and move in the right direction.
‘‘If we hope to build a strong governance, we need to choose our leaders wisely, we need to ensure we build a strong foundation, we need to get our leaders to accept social compact that will take us into the future.’’
Agbakoba declared it was time Nigeria faced the real question of its identity.
“We will never come out of this if we don’t sit and ask ourselves if we are really one until the infractions are tackled. Do we wish to be one because this marriage was imposed on us? What marriage do we really want? Why have we excluded all the nationals at the national conferences we have had?’’ he asked.
Harrison Edeh is a journalist with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, always determined to drive advocacy for good governance through holding public officials and businesses accountable.