Former Nigeria President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, says Nigeria has disappointed the black race.
Obasanjo accused Nigeria of pushing its citizens into poverty because of poor implementation of good policies. He said over the past 63 years, the nation had not lived up to expectations even as it claim to be giant of Africa.
He spoke in Abuja on Monday, July 24 in a keynote address at the public presentation of a book titled, “Reclaiming the Jewel of Africa,” written by Olusegun Aganga, a former Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, who had also served as Minister of Finance .
Obasanjo, who addressed the audience at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre, virtually, said even though “Nigeria is a potential jewel of Africa, if you want to put it that way, we have never attained that position. Can you reclaim what you have never had or attained?”
“Over the last 63 years, we have not lived up to expectations. We have disappointed ourselves; we have disappointed Africa; we have disappointed the black race; and we have disappointed the world.”
“What Segun (Aganga) has tried to identify, itemise and recommend in his book is the way forward. But the beginning of charting a new course for ourselves is to admit our failure because we have not always put the round peg in the round hole.
“We are carried along by ego and emotion of self, selfishness and self-centeredness, ethnic and religious jingoism, with total lack of understanding of the world we live in and gross misunderstanding of what development entails and how to move fast and continuously on the trajectory of development.”
Obasanjo identified two major factors for all-round development.
“These are peace and security, which we cannot achieve without justice, equity and inclusive society,” he said.
“And telling ourselves the truth, we have not done well on these scores in the recent past — in the last decade and a half.
“I will also point at the issue of education, where over 20 million children that should be in school are not in school. We do not need an oracle to tell us the consequences of that for tomorrow.”
“We do not need to look far for the remote causes of banditry, Boko Haram, kidnapping and other organised crimes.
“We are living dangerously on a keg of gunpowder, driving more people into poverty through good policies poorly and thoughtlessly implemented or bad policy and no policy at all.”
“The point I am making is that we have, both at home and in the diaspora, Nigerians who have attained world and best standard in their character, professions, attributes, performance and reputation in all walks of life. With such men and women, why are we underperforming at home?”
However, Obasanjo said, “Here I have my first minor disagreement with Segun on this book. It is not in terms of the content, which I will come to later, but in terms of the title. Should it be Reclaiming or Claiming the Jewel of Africa? If we have not reached there, which we have not, our first assignment is to reach there.
“Not long ago, I decided to have on record the experiences of some of the Nigerian ambassadors from independence to date. One of the first set of ambassadors, Ambassador Ogunsulire, during the interview, recollected that at the first meeting of the United Nations General Assembly attended by Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa for the admission of Nigeria as a member of the United Nations on October 7, 1960, Nigeria was referred to as Giant in the sun.”
The book, which offered a “blueprint for taking Nigeria and Africa from potential to posterity”, was launched by President Bola Tinubu, who was represented by his Special Adviser on Monetary Policy, Mr. Wale Edun.