Says Boko Haram, Herdsmen violence beyond Nigeria capacity
By Eseoghene Emuke
Former Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has warned that Nigeria is heading for a self-destruction like Venezuela and Somalia if the growing rate of hate preaching, upsurge tribalism and sectionalism, and the dangerously rising feeling that “your votes don’t count” in the country are not quickly addressed by the government.
Obasanjo also disclosed that the violence acts by Boko Haram and herdsmen which have led to destruction of lives and property are currently beyond the capacity of the Nigerian government and the West African region to urgently tackle.
The former President spoke on Saturday at the second session of the seventh Synod of the Anglican Communion, Oleh Diocese, in Isoko South Local Government Area of Delta State, saying that Nigeria must be watchful and cautious to avoid falling into similar boats of self-destruction like Somalia and Venezuela.
Speaking on the topic, “Mobilising Nigeria’s Human and Natural Resources for National Development and Stability”, the erstwhile president noted that Nigeria will not recover from its present predicament if the right ‘politics’ that will engender development, progress and unity.
On why he feels Nigeria was heading on the direction of self-destruction, Obasanjo stated that, “Through division and alienation wittingly and unwittingly encouraged by government, incipient factors of state destruction are observable everywhere in hate preaching and advocacy, upsurge tribalism and sectionalism, silence and complacency among those who should care and a dangerously rising feeling that your votes don’t count and elections don’t matter.
“And yet we spend colossal amount of money on elections every four years with apparently not much to show for it. With other ills within our society, if these observable symptoms are not addressed and speedily too, we are heading to self-destruction. It will not matter where the fire commences from, it will spread fast and widely leaving no survivor on its trail.
“In the last three weeks, I have been close to two countries and learned how they self-destruct. I was in Somaliland to learn at first-hand the story of self-destruction of Somalia. And I was in Colombia to similarly learn the story of self-destruction of Venezuela. They both started with destruction of democracy. And Venezuela used democratic process to destroy democracy.
“Nigeria seems to be embarking on the path of Venezuela. With only a population of about 30 million, the Venezuela humanitarian situation today, heightened by drug trafficking, illegal mining, pervasive corruption and terrorism, is crying to the world. But the world can turn a blind eye and it would be our funeral. Over the same period, I was in Malaysia and Vietnam and I could feel the palpation of nations on the right path by and large. The forewarned is to be forearmed and the impunity is already there.”
He posited that Nigeria can only avoid the looming ‘Venezuela’ implosion with the right leadership and good governance by treating all section of the country equal and important to the development and progress of the Nigeria.
According to him, “But with collective goodwill, the right leadership and good governance, the sky is the limit for Nigeria, a country surely in the hands of God for us to move forward, unitedly mobilising all necessary resources to make Nigeria a leader in Africa and the leader of the black race. That is the role God has created for us.”
The former president observed that he had long identified corruption as the biggest problem confronting the country, saying that to tackle the cankerworm headlong, he created the ICPC and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He, however, lamented that the agencies he created then, are today being used to fight political opponents and perceived enemies of successive government till date.
While highlighting the security situation in the country, the former Nigerian leader revealed that the issues of Boko Haram and herdsmen were not given the desired seriousness it deserved until it now snowballed into full blown crisis.
“Every issue of insecurity must be taken seriously at all levels and be addressed at once without favouritism or cuddling. Both Boko Haram and herdsmen acts of violence were not treated as they should at the beginning. They have both incubated and developed beyond what Nigeria can handle alone. They are now combined and internationalised with ISIS in control.
“It is no longer an issue of lack of education and lack of employment for our youth in Nigeria which it began as, it is now West African fulanisation, African islamisation and global organised crimes of human trafficking, money laundering, drug trafficking, gun trafficking, illegal mining and regime change. Yet we could have dealt with both earlier and nib 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 payment of ransoms. Today, the security issue has gone beyond the wit and capacity of Nigerian government or even West African governments”, Chief Obasanjo added.
While commending the church for inviting him, Obasanjo said the church has critical role to play in the involvement of Nigeria into a strong nationhood where there would be peace, unity, development and progress.
According to him, “All the same, our charity must begin at home. 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.
“There should be no sacred cow. Some of the groups that I will suggest to be contacted are: traditional rulers, past heads of service (no matter how competent or incompetent they have been and how much they have contributed to the mess we are in), past heads of para-military organisations, 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 State, 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, multilateral, regional, continental and global levels. With ISIS involvement, we cannot but go global. Without security and predictable stability, our development, growth and progress are in peril.”
He further added, “Your lordship, it is gladdening to note that the Church in Nigeria has continued to provide not only for the spiritual growth of the people, but also, for the overall physical wellbeing and welfare of Nigerians generally. The church has continued to play a very critical role in the overall growth and development of the country.
“It has continued, in the face of daunting challenges, to mould opinions, make critical interventions, and influence policies and general directions of the various tiers of governments in Nigeria. A clear testimony to this ennobling role of the church can be seen from the topic you have asked me to speak on, which is: Mobilising Nigeria’s Human and Natural Resources for National Development and Stability. Yes, the main mission of the Church is salvation of the soul but without ignoring the physical, mental and the general social well-being of humankind.”