- Former president Olusegun Obasanjo addressed some of the key challenges facing Nigeria as a country
- Obasanjo traced the origin of insecurity in the country, apportioned blames and suggested ways to address the challenges
- The former president also spoke on the need to revolutionise education in the country
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Saturday, May 18, reportedly claimed the aim of the terror sect Boko Haram is ‘Fulanisation’ of West Africa and Islamisation of Africa.
According to The Nation, Obasanjo said this in a keynote address at the 2019 Synod of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), held in Oleh, Isoko South council area of Delta state.
He spoke on the topic ‘Mobilizing Nigeria’s human and natural resources for national development and stability.’
The security threats; the mission
Speaking on the security threat posed by the Boko Haram insurgency and cattle rustling in the north, Obasanjo said: “They have both incubated and developed beyond what Nigeria can handle alone. They are now combined and internationalized with ISIS in control.
“It is no longer an issue of lack of education and lack of employment for our youths in Nigeria which it began as, it is now West African fulanization, African Islamization and global organized crimes of human trafficking, money laundering, drug trafficking, gun trafficking, illegal mining and regime change."
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What went wrong; how the insecurities escalated
Obasanjo blamed several factors such as government's poor and slow response from the onset, lack of military intelligence, etc. for the escalation of the security challenges.
He said the security challenges have now gone beyond the capacity of the Nigerian government and even the West African governments.
“Yet, we could have dealt with both earlier, and nip them in the bud, but Boko Haram boys were seen as rascals not requiring serious attention in administering holistic measures of stick and carrot.
“And when we woke up to the reality, it was turned to industry for all and sundry to supply materials and equipment that were already outdated and that were not fit for active military purpose.
“Soldiers were poorly trained for the unusual mission, poorly equipped, poorly motivated, poorly led and made to engage in propaganda rather than achieving results.
“Intelligence was poor and governments embarked on games of denials while paying ransoms which strengthened the insurgents and yet governments denied payments of ransoms. Today, the insecurity issue has gone beyond the wit and capacity of Nigerian Government or even West African Governments,” he said.
He urged the federal government to come up with an immediate and more aggressive approach to deal with the current insecurity challenges across the country which he said was brought about by the sect and its allies in ISIS.
How to tackle the challenges
The former president said the federal government should seek the opinions of all Nigerians that matter on the security situation and then proceed to bilateral, multinational, regional, continental and global levels for assistance in making the country safe for all.
He said: “Government must appreciate where we are, summon each group that should make contributions one by one and subsequently collectively seek the way forward for all hands on deck and with the holistic approach of stick and carrot."
The former president suggested groups of stakeholders that need to be contacted to effectively tackle the security challenges from the root.
“There should be no sacred cow. Some of the groups that I will suggest to be contacted are: Traditional rulers, past heads of Service Chiefs (no matter how competent or incompetent they have been and how much they have contributed to the mess we are in), past heads of paramilitary or organizations, private sector, civil society , community leaders particularly in the most affected areas, present and past governors, present and past local government leaders, religious leaders, past heads of states, past Intelligence chiefs, past heads of Civil Service and relevant current and retired diplomats, members of opposition and any groups that may be deemed relevant.
“After we have found appropriate solution internally, we should move to bilateral, multinational, regional, continental and global levels. With ISIS involvement, we cannot but go global," he said.
Obasanjo reiterated that Nigeria cannot record desired growth and progress if the security challenges are not resolved.
He stated further: “Without security and predictable stability, our development, growth and progress are in period.
“Let me hasten to add that we must be at the appropriate seat at the table of international discourse, deliberations, agenda and action.”
African Continental Free Trade Zone Agreement
Obasanjo also spoke on the need for Nigeria to be part of the African Continental Free Trade Zone Agreement. According to him, Nigeria from independence has always been in the forefront of any continental initiative, decision, action or programme.
He, therefore, wondered why Nigeria should be “outside the African Continental Free Trade Zone Agreement when it automatically came into effect with twenty-two-nations’ ratification.”
The former vice president also lamented the state of education in the country.
He said: "A situation where almost 40% of our population are not equipped with education to be able to make meaningful, positive and rewarding contribution to development in this day and age is bad almost to the point of criminality.
“Education both in quantity and quality must be seen as the first pillar of our development after we have delivered on politics of unity in diversity in concrete and sustainable policies and actions.
“We need a revolution to deal with our great backwardness in literacy and popular education. I believe that a two-year preparation to send all children below ten years of age with two streams of 8am to 12.30pm and 1pm to 5.30pm with teachers taking on two streams, getting additional 25 to 30% salary will break the back of illiteracy and set us on the path of education for all.
“Community leaders, traditional rulers and local government chairmen should be held responsible for any parents or guardians preventing their children and wards from going to school. I have heard it said in some quarters that if everybody goes to school, who will be the servants. My lord Bishop, I dare say that if everybody goes to school, we will have more competent, efficient, effective and better servants.”
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Meanwhile, in an earlier report by Legit.ng, popular human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, asked Nigerians to hold Obasanjo responsible for the challenges in the Nigerian constitution.
Falana, who spoke at the launch of the minority report written by Professor Olusegun Osoba and Yusufu Bala Usman, argued that the loopholes in the 1979 and 1999 constitutions would have been resolved if Obasanjo was serious.
The lawyer accused Obasanjo of refusing, in 1976, to accept and implement the minority report and draft constitution for the Federal Republic of Nigeria written by Osoba and Usman.
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