“Criminality is the order of the day. And it cuts across the entire nation”, he said at the 2020 Sobo Sowemimo Annual Lecture held at Abeokuta Club, Ogun State.
The speech of the one time Head of State was titled “COVID-19 and Nigeria Security Issues: The Way Forward”.
Obasanjo said there have been comments and remarks about insecurity “occasioned by criminality and acts of lawlessness that are brazen and outrageous with seeming government powerlessness to act effectively”.
He noted that these with other willful and unhelpful acts of government at the centre had made some Governors to devise means of enhancing security within their States and their geo-political zones.
“Other people had called for correction, according to them, of the ‘Mistake of 1914′ while others are talking of proclamation for the ‘Sovereignties and Self-determination of Indigenous Peoples of Nigeria’. I believe there is need for a bit of clarification and understanding of the situation to avoid confusing the situation further.
“Our problem is of a different nature emanating essentially from government’s orientation, policies, competence, performance and delivery and gross inadequacies in these areas. Some people describe it as ‘collapse of governance at all levels!’ When what was not happening before begins to happen, you must try to find out why.”
Obasanjo stated that as far as security is concerned, governments carry lion share of the responsibility if not the entire responsibility as individuals can only act within the laws made and enforced by governments.
He expressed dismay that some important aspects of the constitution were being breached willfully, warning that with the cry for reform of the basic structure of federating units, there is need for the repositioning of Nigeria for the purpose of unity, equity, competence, good governance, security, stability, healthy competition, justice and fast socio-economic development.
Obasanjo declared that he was convinced that without reform of federating units or restructuring, Nigeria will remain insecure, unstable, non-progressive and stagnated at best or disintegrated at the worst.
“The issue of Nigeria’s future as a result of our current security situation must not be taken non-seriously as I see it as a matter of life and death for our country which must not be toyed with. I very much believe that God created Nigeria to lead the black race as the Americans lead the white race for now and the Chinese lead the brown or yellow race. We must do everything to actualise the plan of God for Nigeria not minding the great crises of the past and gross under-performance, incompetence and failure of the present.
“This makes me ask the question, “Is 1914 a mistake or the act of God through the instrumentality of man?” I do not believe God makes a mistake and He has His hands in the affairs of any man or woman and in the affairs of any nation. God is purposeful and His mystery may not be easily comprehensible. Nigeria, to me, is a creation of God for justice, fairness and equity amongst its component parts.
For emphasis, Obasanjo said South-West Governors cried out and “devised Amotekun as a solution or part-solution. We are yet to see how successfully that will be operated. Other zones are clamouring for a solution because in no State and in no geopolitical zone is life and property safe and secure.”
“If we are all held hostage by criminality of Boko Haram, terrorists, herdsmen/farmers, bandits, kidnappers, militants, armed robbers, then we all have common ground to seek common solution by putting aside governance collapse, incompetence, failure, insincerity and insensitivity and chart a new stable, enduring and generally sustainable basis and platform for Nigeria Federation.”
Obasanjo pointed out that the Northern Elders Forum, through its spokesperson, Akeem Baba Ahmed, declared President Buhari a failure on account of persistent insecurity within the nation.
“I leave out economy which is in the doldrums and fighting corruption where you see more heat than light and which is festering like a bad sore. Leaders in politics, private sector, religion, traditional institutions and civil society have cried out against pervasive insecurity in our land.”
He said insecurity brought about by widespread criminality of Boko Haram, insurgents, herdsmen/farmers conflict, terrorists, bandits, armed robbers, militants, kidnappers, abductors and human traffickers is a new phenomenon that is ravaging the entire country.
The former president stated that the causes are many but the solution is beyond the capacity of the government which seemed to be at the end of its wit.
He added that “Together, we can have Nigeria of our dream. There are Nigerians in all walks of life, from all ethnic groups, religious groups, cultural groups, political groups and across age and gender who will work genuinely and sincerely for emergence of a new Nigeria based on principles of democracy, equity, justice, mutual respect, egalitarianism, good governance, federal character, and extol merit and competence.”
AFRICA TODAY NEWS, NEW YORK