Former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday expressed worry over the state of the nation and blamed bad leadership for the nation’s woes.
The former president, while receiving a book titled, ‘The Man, The General and The President,’ written by Femmy Carrena, said in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, that even though the country is destined to be a land flowing with milk and honey, bad leadership has made it unachievable.
According to him, the country is currently dripping with bitterness and sadness.
But despite the worsening insecurity, the federal government has said it is preposterous for anyone to declare Nigeria a failed state on the basis of the country’s security challenges.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) also said alleged plots by some Nigerians to bring down the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari would fail.
Obasanjo stated that although Nigeria is destined to lead the black race, failure of leadership has prevented the country from taking its rightful place in the comity of developed nations.
He said: “My prayer is that all of us will have something to contribute to making this country what God has created it to be – a land flowing with milk and honey.
“Right now, it is a land flowing with bitterness and sadness; that is not what God wants this country to be.
“We must change the narrative; we must talk to ourselves in the civilised language.
“There is nowhere you go in this country that you will not see geniuses in any section of the country. So, why should we look down on ourselves?”
He stated that over 14 million children were out of school, adding that if care is not taken, Nigeria would have more “Boko Haram in future.”
Obasanjo urged Nigerians to emulate some prominent citizens that are doing well at the international level.
He said: “We have Akin Adesina running the African Development Bank (AfDB); we have Benedict Oramah running the Afrexim Bank; we have Mohammed Barkindo running the OPEC (Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries); we have my sister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, running the WTO (World Trade Organisation), and we have Amina Mohammed who, I think celebrated her 60th birthday yesterday or the day before yesterday, who is number two in the United Nations (UN).
“These are things that should give hope and encouragement for the future.
“And each of these people that I have mentioned, are doing fantastically well. We have even at the AU (African Union), Ambassador Bankole Adeoye, who had just taken over as the Commissioner for Political Affairs & Peace and Security (PAPS) of the AU.
“So why are they doing well there and here we are not doing well? Something must be wrong! We should be interrogating this; we should ask then what should we do?
“What we should do is put our house in order, and we can put our house in order.”
The book was reviewed by Professor Emeritus, Michael Abiola Omolewa, a former Chairperson of United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), and the review was read on his behalf by Ndidi Amaka-Okafor.
Insecurity Does Not Make Nigeria Failed State, Insists FG
Meanwhile, the federal government has said it is preposterous for anyone to declare Nigeria a failed state due to the country’s security challenges.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, stated this yesterday in response to a recent declaration by the Council on Foreign Affairs in the United States that “Nigeria is at a point of no return with all the signs of a failed nation.’’
Former US Ambassador to Nigeria and a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. John Campbell, and the President Emeritus of World Peace Foundation, Mr. Robert Rotberg, had urged the United States to acknowledge that Nigeria is a failed state in the light of the many challenges plaguing the country.
“Nigeria’s worldwide companions, particularly the USA, should acknowledge that Nigeria is now a failed state. In recognition of that truth, they need to deepen their engagement with the nation and search to carry the present administration accountable for its failures, while additionally working with it to supply safety and proper financial system,” they had said in an article.
But Mohammed said in Abuja that “Nigeria is not and cannot be a failed state.’’
He stated that the declaration by the council did not represent an official US policy.
Mohammed said: “This declaration is merely the opinions of two persons, former US Ambassador to Nigeria and a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, John Campbell, and the President Emeritus of World Peace Foundation, Robert Rotberg.
“Declaring any nation a failed state is not done at the whims and caprices of one or two persons, no matter their status.
“Just because Nigeria is facing security challenges, which we have acknowledged and which we are tackling, does not automatically make the country a failed state.
“Like former US Senator Daniel Moynihan said, “You are entitled to your opinion but not your facts.”
Mohammed said Nigeria did not meet the criteria for a nation to become a failed state.
He listed the criteria to include the inability to provide public service and inability to interact with other states as a full member of the international community.
“Yes, the non-state actors may be rampaging in some parts of the country; they have not and cannot overwhelm this government,’’ he said.
The minister said it was not the first time it was predicted that Nigeria would fail or break up.
He added: “We were even once told that Nigeria would break up in 2015. But their doomsday predictions have all failed and will fail again.’’
Presidency: Foreign Magazine’s Opinion on Nigeria Distorted, Unfair
Meanwhile, the Presidency yesterday described as unfair and distorted an opinion in the latest article on Nigeria entitled ‘The Giant of Africa Is Failing’ published by the Foreign Affairs (Magazine).
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, made the condemnation in a reaction to the article.
In a letter addressed to the publishers of the magazine, the presidential spokesman took exception to the way and manner facts were being misrepresented to support distorted opinions.
The letter read in part: “The latest article on Nigeria in Foreign Affairs titled ‘The Giant of Africa is Failing’ is unfair both to a magazine with such an esteemed pedigree and to its readers.
“Former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, has been predicting the collapse of Nigeria for several years. He is of course entitled to his opinions, even where events consistently prove him wrong.
“But facts should not be bent to support distorted opinions.
“Let me give you one example.
“The authors write:
‘At an April meeting with the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Buhari reportedly requested that the headquarters of the U.S. Africa Command be moved from Germany to Nigeria so that it would be closer to the fight against jihadi groups in the country’s north.’
“President Buhari did not request that AFRICOM move to Nigeria. The transcript of the call with Secretary Blinken is available on the State Department’s own website.
“It’s not just a question of the invented addition of ‘to Nigeria’ with regard to AFRICOM. It sums up a piece that attempts – subtly but revealingly – to shift facts to suit an argument.’’
According to Shehu, Nigeria faces multiple challenges, not least of which is the dissemination of fake news and prejudiced opinion.
He said: “This is something we have come to expect from partisan blogs and politically motivated lobbies.
“It is still a surprise, and a disappointment, to see them joined by Foreign Affairs.’
Plots to Destroy Buhari’s Govt will Fail, Says APC
Also yesterday, the ruling APC said plots by some Nigerians to bring down the administration of Buhari would fail.
National Secretary of the Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary National Convention Planning Committee of the APC, Senator John Akpanudoedehe, said at an event organised by the APC Professionals Forum, in Abuja, that despite the challenges the party met on the ground, the president had recorded successes in the areas of infrastructural development, the fight against corruption and the reduction of poverty.
Akpanudoedehe spoke on behalf of the Governor of Yobe State and Chairman of the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee of the APC, Mr. Mai Mala Buni.
He said: “Plans to bring down the government of President Muhammadu Buhari will fail; some disgruntled elements are trying to blackmail and discredit this government with the aim of bringing it down.
“President Muhammadu Buhari will be judged by security and other achievements. We should not analyse the achievements of this government based on blackmail.”
He added that despite misgivings in certain quarters, the benefit accruing to the nation through efforts being made by the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy was visible.
According to him, the SIM card registration, which has drastically reduced the number of pre-registered sims available for use for criminal purposes has helped in improving the nation’s economy.
“Those who are heating up the polity so that people will believe there is insecurity are organising to bring down the government of the APC. We will bring them to book Insha Allah,” he said.
Akpanudoedehe stated that the positive effects of the social intervention programmes among Nigeria’s poor and the vulnerable were being underreported because most of the beneficiaries were neither party member nor did they share in the administration’s vision.