Despite calls for secession, former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said that Nigeria will continue to exist as a nation.
The former President stated this on Friday during the Book Launch and 85th Birthday of the Prelate of the Methodist Church Nigeria, Sunday Mbang, which was held at the Admiralty Centre, Naval Dockyard, Victoria Island, Lagos State.
While noting that some forces don’t want to see the country’s continued co-existence, Obasanjo said those people would continue to fail.
He added that the cost of staying together as a nation is cheaper than the cost of dividing Nigeria.
“Whatever happens, we will continue to work for the unity, peace, security and progress of this country,” he said. “Nigeria will continue to exist because the cost for us for Nigeria not to continue to exist is much more than the cost for us to make Nigeria to continue to exist.
“There are many people – high and low – who can be described as enemies of Nigeria, but they will not win over those who are friends of Nigeria.”
Obasanjo’s comments come amid calls for secession by notable separatist leaders – Sunday Igboho, agitator of the Yoruba Nation, and Nnamdi Kanu of the Indigenous People of Biafra.
He promised to continue to work for the peace and progress of a Nigeria that is united.
The elder statesman insisted that those he described as enemies who do not want to see the nation’s continued co-existence would fail.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has asked political elites and the Federal Government to prioritise the security and economy of the nation, rather than the current agitation about the 2023 general elections.
He believes while the polls are equally important, the major focus should be on the challenges facing the country and impeding its growth and development.
The elder statesman made the call on Thursday when he met with the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Uche Secondus, at his residence in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
He decried that the country has not attained its destined position in the comity of states after many failed opportunities.
Despite the current situation which he described as bad but not unredeemable, Obasanjo is hopeful that the country will be great again with justice and equity.
In his remarks, Secondus commended the leadership quality of the former president and one of the founding fathers of the main opposition party.
Amid the recent disagreements within the party, he is confident that the PDP is emerging stronger ahead of the forthcoming elections.
“We discussed at length and he has rekindled hope as far as we are concerned that Nigeria will be great again, and we are going out here with our hope strengthened that by the special grace of God, we will have a (better) country,” Secondus said.
After the closed-door engagement which lasted about two hours, Obasanjo and Secondus were received at the board room of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library by members of the PDP in Ogun State.
Addressing the party faithful, they called for all hands to be on deck to rebuild the fortunes of the country.
“I have been diagnosed with diabetes for more than 35 years now and here I am, I’m still going about, I’m still jumping up and down, I’m still doing many things many people of my age cannot do,” he said.
“It does not matter whether you are type one or type two. So far, there is no cure for diabetes. Maybe there will be a cure before I die, but I pray that there will be a cure before you die.”
While noting that some of his friends had succumbed to the disease, Obasanjo attributed the development to a lack of management of the disease.
“Don’t miss your drugs, in your own case, your insulin injection. I take my drugs along with me everywhere I go and I always check my blood sugar level regularly. Don’t let anybody put fear in your minds, diabetes, has no cure for now, but it can be managed,” Obasanjo told the participants.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Thursday met with various leaders including the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, the Sultan of Sokoto, his eminence Sa’ad Abubakar, and former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, as part of efforts to address the myriad of challenges bedevilling the country.
The closed-door meeting which lasted for over nine hours took place at the Kano Conference Hall of the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.
According to Obasanjo in a letter of invitation earlier extended to the Nigerian Labour Congress, the meeting which was in collaboration with the Interfaith Initiative for Peace, National Peace Committee and Socio-Cultural Consultative Committee all under Committee for Goodness of Nigeria, was an exploratory one bordering on pressing issues of national unity, security, peace, integration, economic revitalisation and development, women and youth welfare and general progress of the country.
However, at the end of the meeting, former President Obasanjo could not be sighted for comments, while former Head of State, General Abdulsalami declined to speak to journalists.
Meanwhile, the former Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbe and Cardinal John Onaiyekan who were also present, simply told journalists that the meeting was for the progress of the country.
Ogbe said a communique on the outcome of the meeting will be issued soon.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has condemned agitators of disintegration of the country saying that that it will be “almost idiotic” for Nigeria to disintegrate at a time like this when Africa is trying to reintegrate for political, social, and economic development.
He insisted that the country is better together for all the ethnic groups in the country to remain together as one indivisible nation with fairness and equity and where all Nigerians will feel proud, rather than for each tribe to go its separate ways.
The former Nigerian leader spoke at the luncheon and investiture organised by the Nigerian Institution of Surveyor, Ogun State chapter, held at the premises of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) Abeokuta.
The former President called on all agitators for the disintegration of the country to shelve the idea and work for the unity and oneness of the country.
‘It Will Cost Us Less To Work For Our Unity’
While admitting that the present situation in the country is not palatable, he stressed that calling for the disintegration of the country is not the solution.
He expressed the optimism that, Nigeria will come out stronger from all the challenges currently confronting it if all citizens shelve their personal interests and work together for the unity and progress of the country.
The former president who cited Pakistan, Yugoslavia, and Sudan as countries who have broken away, but are yet to find solutions to their problems, said Nigerians should blame themselves for the country’s woes rather than blaming God.
“If there is any Nigerian who does not feel apprehensive on the situation of the country, the person is a human being without being human.
“Any Nigerian who is human will be apprehensive, if not frustrated with the present situation in the country. We are apprehensive about security situation, apprehensive about economic situation, apprehensive about our political situation and the drum we are hearing is that of disintegration of the country.
“I am a strong believer of one Nigeria, but not one Nigeria at any cost, but one Nigeria where every Nigerian can feel proud that he or she has a stake in this country.
“No Nigerian is born a slave in this country. No Nigerian is born to be oppressed in this country and those of us that have shared part of our blood and sweat for this country, we did that because we wanted a country that every Nigerian can claim as his or her own.
“One thing that gives us strength is our diversity. If all that we have is Republic of Oduduwa for those who said so, their position is understandable. If that is all we have, members of that country will be diminished compared to be a citizen of Nigeria. Citizens of Oduduwa Republic or any other republic from Nigeria will be diminished compared to citizens of Nigeria.
“In this age and time that we are talking about the reintegration of Africa for economic development, disintegration of any country will be almost idiotic if we have Igboland as an independent country, Yorubaland an independent country and Fulani/Hausaland an independent country.
“And as a friend of mine in the military used to say then, what will become of the over 300 minorities – the Jukuns, the Gbasamas? Where will they belong? The only reason they can raise up their heads is because they belong to Nigeria. Are we thinking of them or are we are just being selfish? It doesn’t matter what we do, we will still be neighbours.
“We had seen it before, India was broken into India and Pakistan, they are still at war till today. Yugoslavia was broken into how many countries, they haven’t sorted it till today. Sudan was broken into Sudan and South Sudan, I don’t believe South Sudan is better for it and that is the truth.
“I believe it will cost us less to work for our unity, there are many things wrong, but those things are correctable if we make efforts to correct them and hold us together than what it will cost us to break up and be perpetually at war and all our money will be spent in building an army. I know what an army contains, I know what it means to keep an army, an army that may not be productive, let us think about it”, Obasanjo stated.
Speaking on the importance of survey to national development, Obasanjo said, the entire country should be surveyed to achieve economic development and transformation.
He, therefore, charged the national body of the Nigerian Institution of Surveyors to draft a proposal on the national survey of the country to the Federal Government.
“When I was the president of the country, the project of surveying the entire country began, but it got stuck and I don’t know where the project is now”, Obasanjo noted.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has called on the Federal Government to develop means to deal with kidnappers and bandits heavily in place of the payment of ransom.
He also stressed the need for leaders to ensure the 2023 birth emergence of a new federation in the nation, warning that the country may slide into what he described as ground dissolution.
The elder statesman made the recommendation on Wednesday when he received members of the Tiv Professionals Group (TPG) led by Professor Zacharys Gundu, at his residence within the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
“Some people are still reaching out and hoping that lives can still be saved; but a situation whereby anybody thinks paying ransom is the way out, that person is folly. He is a folly.
“This is because when you pay ransom, you encourage; but if you are not going to pay ransom, you must have the means to deal heavily with it. You must have the stick to deal with it,” Obasanjo said.
He added, “Government has always paid ransom. Not only this government, even during (Goodluck) Jonathan (administration). They paid ransom, but they denied it.”
The former president, who condemned the security challenges in the country, insisted that 2023 must mark a watershed for Nigeria.
“The year 2023 should give us the beginning of the emergence of a new federation. Feeling that the rot continues, then we are going to be sliding back to a ground dissolution. God forbid,” he said.
Getting It Right
Obasanjo decried that those beating drums of division in the country do not think about the interest of the minority ethnic groups.
He explained that the minority ethnic groups face oppression and extermination should Nigeria be allowed to break as being agitated by some people.
“I believe that if we will get it right in Nigeria, any leader must look at Nigeria with the prism of the diversity of Nigeria. For as long as you look at Nigeria with the prism of your ethnic group, then you are not going anywhere, either your ethnic group or religious group.
“But is there hope? There is hope,” the elder statesman stated.
In his remarks, Professor Gundu told informed his host that people were being maimed in their sleep and on their ancestral land, stressing the need for influential Nigerians to rise to the occasion to stem the tide of killings in the land.
“Nigeria seems to be losing the battle against insecurity,” he said while demanding full compensation for victims of killings and destruction in Tiv land.
The leader of the delegation also sought the proscription of armed Fulani groups and intensified advocacy against nomadic pastoralism.
“There are different shades of instability in the country. Nigeria is truly bleeding to death. There’s even a population fault line that could lead to the ‘Lebanon Trap’.
“All patriots must stand together; but if others have to be enslaved before the country can survive, we will prefer, as Tiv people, to take our destiny in our hands,” he said.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo is confident that Nigeria will overcome its security challenges and other problems it is grappling with.
He said although the call for the nation’s break up may be loud, it would never be heard and would be a thing of the past.
The former president made the remarks on Wednesday at an event in Ogun State where Governor Dapo Abiodun and his Oyo State counterpart, Seyi Makinde, also called for peace, unity, and end to violence in the country.
“My two brothers talked about the situation we are in,” he said while referring to the two governors who spoke earlier.
Obasanjo added, “You know, I am an incurable optimist about a number of things, but particularly about Nigeria.”
Speaking in Yoruba language, the elder statesman gave a parable that implied that while the present situation might be tough, the country would surely overcome.
The event was the 108th annual convention of the Nigerian Baptist Convention (NBC) held at the church’s international conference centre along the Lagos-Ibadan expressway.
It was also used to conduct a valedictory and commendation service for Reverend Samson Ayokunle, the retiring President of the church and President of Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN).
Obasanjo, who is a member of the Baptist Church, commended Reverend Ayokunle for serving meritoriously in his capacity as a leader in the church.
Other dignitaries who attended the event included top clergymen, traditional rulers, and political officeholders.
Amid growing concerns about insecurity in the country, members of the House of Representatives called on President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency on security to fast-track all measures towards restoring peace in the country.
They also mandated the House Security Committees to immediately commence a comprehensive audit of all military and paramilitary assets and arms and revert back within four weeks.
The lawmakers condemned the attacks on security personnel and formations and parts of the country and sympatised with their families, as well as the families and communities that have been victims of banditry, terrorism, and criminal acts.
Special courts should be created to deal promptly with cases of banditry, kidnapping, ransom demanding, and unlawful carrying of weapons in the country.
This formed part of the solutions to the nation’s security challenges recommended by former President Olusegun Obasanjo and popular Islamic scholar, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi.
Both men met on Sunday at the residence of the former president in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital to discuss and propose possible solutions to the security challenges in the country.
Suggesting ways to address the issues of insecurity, Obasanjo and Gumi stressed the need for the people, irrespective of their affiliation, to desist from blame game, as well as attributing ethnicity, religion, and region to crimes committed by criminals.
They asked the people to respect one another, show tolerance and accommodation where necessary, as well as condemn criminal acts no matter where it was committed and by whom it was committed.
According to the elder statesman and the Islamic scholar, encouraging more of carrot solution as may be found necessary, sharing information at all levels, and not accepting criminality as a way of life for any individual or group in the country, are part of the solutions to insecurity in the land.
At the meeting, they agreed that banditry, kidnapping, and other crimes that have led to general insecurity were a nationwide phenomenon.
Obasanjo and Gumi also acknowledged that people from various parts of the country and outside Nigeria were involved, although some people were more predominantly involved than others.
They appealed to authorities and the people not to encourage or support criminality, saying the security situation in the country has gone beyond tolerance.
The elder statesman and the Islamic scholar also identified the crisis as a micro-ethnic conflict between the Fulani and many host communities mainly in the North West.
They attributed the remote causes of the crisis to educational and economic disparities, as well as the negative use of religion and ethnicity by deceitful politicians.
Discussions at the meeting focused on the causes, effects, and implications of the various security threats, as well as the reactions by communities, local authorities, state governments, and the Federal Government, as well as authorities in neighbouring countries and nations within West Africa.
At the end of the discussion, Obasanjo and Gumi agreed to continue to work together for solutions for the security of Nigeria and to seek others to join them.
They believe that keeping Nigeria safe and secure for all citizens and foreigners is a task that all well-meaning Nigerians must engage in, separately and collectively.
Thereafter, Gumi extended an invitation to Obasanjo to visit Kaduna State, with a view to continuing the discussion and the former president accepted the invite.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo and popular Islamic scholar, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi, met on Sunday to discuss and propose possible solutions to the security challenges in Nigeria.
The meeting, which held at the residence of the former president in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, was part of efforts to find solutions to the menace of banditry, kidnapping, and payment of ransom, among other security threats in the land.
After the exchange of pleasantries, Gumi briefed Obasanjo on measures and steps he had taken to stem the tide of insecurity in many parts of the North.
Discussions centred on the causes, effects and implications of the various security threats, as well as the reactions by communities, local authorities, state governments, and the Federal Government, as well as authorities in neighbouring countries and nations within West Africa.
In their resolution, Obasanjo and Gumi agreed that banditry, kidnapping, and other crimes that have led to general insecurity were a nationwide phenomenon.
They acknowledged that people from various parts of the country and outside Nigeria were involved, although some people were more predominantly involved than others.
The elder statesman and the Islamic scholar appealed to authorities and the people not to encourage or support criminality, noting that the security situation in the country has gone beyond tolerance.
They identified the crisis as a micro-ethnic conflict between the Fulani and many host communities mainly in the North West, saying its remote causes were educational and economic disparities, as well as the negative use of religion and ethnicity by deceitful politicians.
The Way Forward
On how to tackle the menace, Obasanjo and Gumi stressed the need for the people, irrespective of their affiliation, to desist from blame game, as well as attributing ethnicity, religion, and region to crimes committed by criminals.
They also called on the people to respect one another, show tolerance and accommodation where necessary, as well as condemn criminal acts no matter where it was committed and by whom it was committed.
According to them, encouraging more carrot solution as may be found necessary, sharing information at all levels, and not accepting criminality as a way of life for any individual or group in the country, are part of the solutions to insecurity in the land.
Read the statement jointly signed by the former president and the Islamic scholar below:
As part of his continued efforts to find solutions for the general insecurity in the country and particularly for the menace of banditry, kidnapping and ransom payment, Sheikh Gumi with a delegation of eight, as follows Prof. Usman Yusuf, Mallam Tukur Mamu, Dr Umar Ardo, Dr Ibrahim Abdullahi, Honourable Suleiman Gumi, Alhaji Suleiman Yakubu, and Mallam Buba Mohammed, visited Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in Abeokuta, Ogun State on April 4, 2021.
Chief Obasanjo received Sheikh Gumi and his delegation in the presence of Oba Babajide Bakare, Agura of Gbagura, Abeokuta; Bishop Tunde Akin-Akinsanya, Chairman of Ogun State Christian Association of Nigeria; Sheikh Sa’addallah Alade Bamigbola, Chief Imam of Egbaland; Chief Kenny Martins, Chief Ola Babajide Jaiyeoba; Rev. Tony Ojeshina, Chief Imams of Oke-Ona, Gbagura, Owu and Mr Vitalis Ortese.
After the exchange of pleasantries, Sheikh Gumi briefed Chief Obasanjo with other hosts on the measures and steps he had taken and spearheaded to stem the tide of insecurity and menace of banditry, kidnapping and ransom payment in many parts of the North.
Questions and discussions ensued to clarify some statements credited to Sheikh Gumi on his well-intended mission in the past. After clarification of points by Sheikh Gumi, discussions centred on causes – remote and immediate –, effects and implications, actions and reactions by communities, local authorities, state governments, national government and governments of our neighbouring countries and countries within West Africa.
After deep, frank, and intimate discussions, the following points were arrived at and decided upon for appropriate actions as recommended:
Chief Obasanjo commended Sheikh Gumi for his initiative and encouraged him not to relent in his efforts. Sheikh Gumi thanked Chief Obasanjo for his past services, emphasising the special unifying efforts and attributes to the nation and for the warm welcome accorded to his delegation.
The menace of banditry, kidnapping, other crimes, and atrocities leading to general insecurity is a nationwide phenomenon. We acknowledge that people from different parts of the country and outside the country are involved although some people are more predominantly involved than others.
We must not advertently or inadvertently, in words, action or inaction encourage or support criminality. We acknowledge that the security situation has gone beyond tolerance; hence Sheik Gumi’s coming to Abeokuta to confer with Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
We identified the crisis as micro-ethnic conflict between the Fulani and many host communities mainly in the North West. We identified the remote causes as educational and economic disparities, and the negative use of religion and ethnicity by unscrupulous politicians.
Solutions must be seen and provided on short-, medium-, and long-term bases and must be composed of stick and carrot for the offender and the vulnerable.
All well-meaning Nigerians have to be involved in finding solutions by – desisting from blame game; desisting from ethnicising these crimes; desisting from religionising these crimes; desisting from regionalising these crimes; respecting one another individually, community-wise, locally, ethnically, religiously and socially; showing tolerance and accommodation where necessary; condemning criminal acts no matter where it is committed and by whom it is committed in Nigeria; encouraging more of carrot solution as may be found necessary; sharing information at all levels; not accepting criminality as a way of life for any individual or group in our nation.
Since the end of the civil war, the military is the strongest and most potent instrument and symbol of national unity that we have, and we must keep it so.
State governments must have adequate means of providing security for their people and as chief executives and chief security officers of their states, they must have the means at their disposal to ensure security for all within their states.
Federal Government must be proactive, secure necessary and updated intelligence to deal with organised crimes and have a common policy for the nation. It is not solving the problem when one state goes for negotiation and molly-cuddling of criminals and another one goes for shooting them. Nor should one state go for ransom payment and another one going against.
Education is one main key to solve the problem in the long run, but it must start now. The 14 million children that should be in school and are out of school must be put in school with local authorities, state governments, and federal government working together.
Wean those who are ready to be weaned out of the bushes and crime, settle and rehabilitate them, give them skills, empower them and let them have employment.
The hardened criminals must be hard hit with the stick. Unlawful carrying of arms should be very seriously punished. Federal Government should take the issue up seriously within ECOWAS to work for a regional solution.
Every community must be encouraged and empowered to stand firm and strong against criminals. There should be protection and reward covertly for whistleblowers against criminals living in the community.
Special courts should be created to deal promptly with cases of banditry, kidnapping, ransom demanding and unlawful carrying of weapons.
Let the slogan be: Security is the responsibility of all Nigerians.
We agree to continue to work together for solutions for the security of Nigeria and to seek others to join us as we widely circulate our joint statement. To this end, Sheik Gumi has extended an invitation to Chief Obasanjo to visit Kaduna with a view to continuing the discourse started today and Chief Obasanjo has graciously accepted.
We conclude that to keep Nigeria safe and secure for all Nigerians and others living in Nigeria is a task that all well-meaning Nigerians must engage in, separately and collectively.
Both of us resolve that we would not relent in our efforts. The delegations on both sides acceded to this statement. We agree to meet again in due course to re-examine the progress and situation of security in Nigeria.
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo Sheikh Ahmad Abubakar Gumi
A former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo has disclosed that he once tested positive for the dreadful Coronavirus but was relieved 72 hours after subsequent tests came out negative.
Obasanjo who turned 84 on March 5, said he was a bit concerned about it and had to call his daughter, Dr. Iyabo Obasanjo – Bello, that he was not having any symptom but COVID – 19 test from the sample extracted from him reads positive.
The former president disclosed this in Abeokuta while making his remarks at a colloquium put in place to celebrate his 84 birthday at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library Kuto, Abeokuta, the state capital said Iyabo’s verdict was that the result might be faulty and required further tests.
The colloquium which took place simultaneously both online and offline has as its topic, “Reflection on Governance and Changes for Post – pandemic Leadership in Africa” with hundreds of people in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Singapore, and Nigeria participating virtually.
According to him, subsequent tests 72 hours later, all certified him negative to the coronavirus.
He therefore, advised people not to be afraid to come quite close to felicitate with him on his birthday because of the dread of COVID – 19 infection, saying he has tested negative three times to it.
He noted that God had continued to be compassionate and merciful to Nigeria and the rest of Africa, saying if the Coronavirus had come in the manner of Ebola in Africa with its devastation, no amount of social or physical distancing would have saved the continent.
He wondered how much social distancing requirement would have been able to accomplish in Mushin, Lagos, where eight people live in one room or Ajegunle, also in Lagos, where no fewer than 10 people occupy 12 by 12 room.
On why the pandemic did not wreck havoc to lives in Africa as it did in America, Europe and Asia, Obasanjo said many have attributed Africa’s luck to genetics, heat and peculiar food in the environment but stressed that for whatever might be the plausible explanation, God’s finger could not be ruled out.
He also lamented that the coronavirus spread to many nations of the world because the United States under the administration of Donald Trump was passive in addressing the public challenge, saying Trump spent all his time dismissing the danger as “Chinese virus until it became a global problem.”
Former Senate President, Bukola Saraki on Tuesday led a group of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftains to a closed-door meeting with former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Saraki arrived at the former president’s house in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital with an entourage that included former Governor of Katsina State Ibrahim Shema; former governor of Gombe State, Hassan Dankwanbo; Former Governor of Cross River State, Liyel Imoke, and Former Governor of Osun State, Olagunsoye Oyinlola.
The meeting may not be unconnected with burning national issues and matters related to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of the 2023 election.
This meeting in Abeokuta comes weeks after members of the PDP Reconciliation Committee led by Saraki met with former President Goodluck Jonathan at his residence in Maitama, Abuja.
Former governor of Gombe State; Ibrahim Dankwambo, former Secretary to the Federal Government, Senator Pius Ayim; former governor of Cross River, Senator Liyel Imoke; former House leader Mulukat Adeola-Akande and former governor of Katsina State, Ibrahim Shema were all in attendance.
A former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo has asked Nigerians who survived COVID-19 and witnessed the new year to thank God for His mercies.
Obasanjo said he knew the reason God spared his life to witness the New Year despite the turbulence and challenges posed to humanity in 2020 by the COVID – 19 pandemic.
Speaking on Saturday at the Thanksgiving service organised by the state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria which held at the Olusegun Obasanjo presidential library in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, the ex-President said God spared his life purposely to “serve Him and humanity more and more.”
Obasanjo said having survived the immediate past year not because he was more righteous or cleverer than any of those that were swept away by the pandemic in Nigeria, Africa and the rest of the world; it dawned on him clearer that God purposely kept him alive to serve Him and humanity more and more.