ABEOKUTA— Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, lamented yesterday that mismanagement of resources has been the main problem confronting Nigeria.
The former president, who spoke at the 2015 annual summit and his 78the birthday celebration held at Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library in Abeokuta also said that most of the West African countries were worried about the situation in Nigeria while the developed countries were afraid that should there be a civil war in the country, no country could accommodate some of the 180 million Nigerians.
Obasanjo, flanked by former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and former governors of Osun and Ekiti states, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola and Segun Oni respectively said the problem of the country arose from mismanagement of resources.
The former President’s birthday had featured two lectures delivered by former Chief of Defence Staff during late President Umar Yar’Adua, General Martin Luther Agwai (rtd) and Director-General, National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion, Dr. Umar Bindir.
Speaking shortly after the two speakers , Obasanjo described himself as an ‘incurable optimist’ about the country, noting that an individual could make a difference.
I am an incurable optimist
According to him, “I am an incurable optimist about this country, and may be because I have seen a little bit in my short span of life, a little bit of what is possible and a little bit of what can go wrong and what can be made to go wrong. May be, that is why I am an incurable optimist and I believe that all will be well in this country, we have no choice anyway, all has to be well.
“We are about 180 million now, our brothers and sisters in West Africa are worried, and when they talk to me and I ask why were they worried, they said, if half a million Nigerians go to Republic of Benin, we will overwhelm them.
“Even Britain is worried, they said their problem is that if one million Nigerians come to Britain, in 10 years, there will be 10 million Nigerians in Britain and they will rather keep us here.
“My concern is that we have too many think tanks, we need more of do-tanks. The point is we can do and we have no reason why we can’t do and we have also seen that one individual can make a difference.
“There is no reason why any Nigerian child, at this point in time, should not have basic education, food and nutrition, and not only Nigeria child, any Nigerian should not go to bed without food. We have the resources to achieve all that. If we are not achieving it, does not mean we don’t have the resources, it is because we haven’t managed our resources well.”
Speaking on the problems of security, Obasanjo predicted that, if nothing is done to the problem of unemployment in the country, there may be a repeat of Boko Haram insurgency in the future.
He said “on employment, if all other things are right, there should be no reason for any Nigerian who wants to be employed not to have the opportunity for employment. And if all those things that all these young ones are expecting are not there, in 15 years time, they will be good recruits for Boko Haram or its equivalent. Don’t let us deceive ourselves.
“You can suppress but if other things that are supposed to be there are not there, you will only suppress, sooner than later, it will rear its ugly head again, and what should be done, we should remove its root, stem and branches and I believe that too can be done.”
Obasanjo very committed to Nigeria —Tinubu
In his tribute, Tinubu described Obasanjo as a ‘nationalist , a teacher, a disciplinarian and a tutor in dignity and boldness’.
The former governor of Lagos State said the new found relationship between him and Obasanjo was to confirm the popular axiom that there are no permanent friends and enemies but permanent interest.
Tinubu also disclosed the role played by Obasanjo during the merger of some political parties to form All Progressives Congress, APC, saying the former President accepted the offer given to him to be their navigator.
He said: “When we started this present regime of merger and alliances, and we visited him and we told him we wanted him to be a navigator, he said, ‘navigator? I will, my party, I am still in there, partisanship, I will try to avoid it because of Nigeria, but, if you people put a good team for the sake of this country together, I will give you wisdom.
“And if you look at what has been happening since then, Obasanjo is an open book, you read a line, you pick a paragraph, you learn, you comply, if you drink from that fountain of wisdom, you will see value in it, he is very committed to Nigeria.
“As we were talking few minutes ago, I said Nigeria is the giant of Africa and he said, ‘I hope you will remove the K-Leg’ and I said, ‘the elephantiasis would be killed’, he said by what, and I said by APC.
“And the change that is necessary for now was the day I saw him instructing that shredded umbrella card torn into pieces, and I said what is happening but to an interpreter, he said, ‘you’ll wait if General Obasanjo would say anything at all’, it wasn’t about anything else, it was about the love of our country, patriotism, putting the country first before self.
“There’s nothing Obasanjo would have wanted in terms of material, oil well, oil lifting, whatever from Jonathan that he wouldn’t have gotten or what from PDP that he wouldn’t have gotten as a retention service, he put all of that aside, believe in the unity, cohesion, and progress of this country in order to free himself from that bondage of commitment to one partisan politics that is probably drifting in the middle of the storm of a political change, he rather be afloat and chart a new course”.
Other prominent people who spoke at the event include the national Chairman of APC, John Odigie-Oyegun and Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State.
In his lecture, former Chief of Defence Staff, General Martin Luther Agwai, advised the military to steer clear of politics.
Agwai said, the military is saddled with the responsibility of defending the territorial integrity of the country .
Agwai, who spoke on the topic “ Imperatives of a National Security Framework for Development and Progress of Nigeria”, submitted that should the military abandon its primary responsibility and engaged in politics, the country might be doomed for it.
“The military has to be transformed and this becomes necessary from the point of recruitment, training and assuming leadership role. Our forces that are trained,equipped to defend us are now in a strange field.
“We must have security sector reform because everyone that has anything to do with security must be re-branded for professionalism, efficiency and effectiveness.
“The military has nothing to do with politics and if we allow it, we will run into problems.”
He maintained that the nation’s military needed to be strengthened to address all the security challenges plaguing the country presently.
The former Chief of Army Staff under Obasanjo’s administration noted that the issue of terrorism is not new to the country, recalling the activities of the Niger-Delta in the twilight of the administration.
He described the Boko Haram insurgency as a time bomb, stressing that there could be no meaningful development in an atmosphere of confusion and war.
The Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun in his tribute , described the celebrant as a great Nigerian and a rare specie.
Amosun said that Obasanjo had played significant role in the development of the nation and remained the only military Head of State to hand over power to civilian administration.
“As far as he is concerned,issues concerning Nigeria is far beyond party affiliation. There is no way we talked about Nigeria that we will not talk about Obasanjo,” he added.
In attendance at the ceremony were the National Chairman, All Progressives Congress, Chief John Oyegun, former national leader of the party, Senator Bola Tinubu, the deputy chairman (South West), Mr. Segun Oni, wife of the Ogun State governor, Olufunso, the co-chairman, OOPL, Board of Trustees, Ambassador Carl Masters among others.