• Sunday, July 14, 2024
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Obasanjo warns African countries can’t accommodate Nigerians if policies go awry



Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has warned Nigerian leaders and policy makers to rise against moves that may worsen the present nation’s socio-economic and political situation and transit the country to an abysmal pit of chaos and violence that could warrant emigration of Nigerians. He said African countries can’t accommodate Nigerians if policies go awry.

Obasanjo, who spoke at his 78th birthday in Abeokuta on Thursday in response to speeches made by John Odigie-Oyegun, national chairman of APC; Bola Tinubu, former Lagos State governor and General Martin Luther Agwai, former chief of defence staff, noted that Nigerian leaders should put national interests above personal interests and should not put continued existence of the country in jeopardy.
He said, “I am an incurable optimist about this country and may be because I have seen in 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. Then maybe 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 said why are they worried, they said, ‘Nigerians go to Republic of Benin, we will overwhelm them; if 2 million go to Ghana, we will overwhelm them, even Britain is worried, they said their problem is that if one million Nigerians go to Britain, they said 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. No Nigerian should go to bed without food, we have the resource to achieve all that; that we are not achieving it does not mean we don’t have the resource, it is because we haven’t managed our resource well.

“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? It should be removed from root, stem and branches and I believe that too can be done.”
But John Odigie-Oyegun, national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who led other chieftains of APC including Bola Tinubu, Segun Oni, among others, disclosed that for the former president to have torn the membership card of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was symbolic and had also shown that Obasanjo has become the father of the nation.

He said, “Speaking seriously, a few weeks ago, we saw somebody tearing a party card on his behalf and we all went ecstatic.
“Fantastic! So, leaders of the party quickly convened a get-together and authorised me if we should issue him a fresh card but we sat down soberly and discussed the issue and at the end of the day we said, we use this words, nationalist, statesman very very loosely in this country and a wise counsel prevailed and we said this event is more significant than we think, this man has crossed a threshold, he has now become truly father of the Nigeria nation.”Bola Tinubu, former governor of Lagos State and national leader of APC, extolled the virtues of the former president and described him as a nationalist, teacher, a disciplinarian and a tutor in dignity and boldness, who meant well for the country and who has had opportunity to ignore his conscience for materialism and gratification from the presidency, but did not.