- Nothing to celebrate – Afenifere
As the country celebrates its 55th Independence anniversary, former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said that Nigeria is not doing badly at becoming a great nation.
Obasanjo, while speaking with journalists at his Hilltop mansion yesterday in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, likened Nigeria to other settled nations of the world who had had challenges but were dynamic in tackling the challenges.
Obasanjo, who maintained that certain cardinal principles of the nation must not be eroded, however, called for a stiffer action against corruption, adding that corruption must not have a resting place in the country.
Obasanjo called for support for President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, adding that the country must be willing to learn from the mistakes of the past.
The elder statesman advised that importance must be placed on issues of education, health, employment, economy and security, adding that issues of justice and peace must also be prioritised.
He said, “Fifty five years in the life of a nation is comparatively young, growing and when you look at the life and history of those that you may call settled societies or reasonably matured countries, we are not doing too badly.
“They have had missteps just like we are having missteps, they have made mistakes and most of them have learnt from their mistakes, they have been dynamic in the way they have progressed and I believe that we are doing the same thing.
“What is important is that certain cardinal principles, cardinal features of our national live, values, should not be eroded. And then we should also be willing to learn from our mistakes.
“The President in his statement said Nigeria has the marks in making the potentialities of a great nation is just question of actualizing our potentialities and that will require all hands on deck; men, women, Muslims, Christians, young and old, irrespective of our location, our tribe, our social standing, Nigeria needs all hands on deck.
“And we must also realise important issues that we must not play with, we must not play with the issue of education, we must not play with the issue of health for our people, we must not play with the issue of employment for our teeming population particularly for our youths, we must not play with the issue of economy, we must not play with the issue so security and peace, we must not play with the issue of justice, Justice and peace go hand in hand, we can’t have injustice and expect place to reign supreme.
“These are some of the things, and then of course, corruption must not have resting place within our society, we must kick corruption out because it destroys almost everything and I am not talking about corruption of money; corruption or attitude, nepotism, favouritism, they are corruption in different form and all aspect of corruption must be kicked out of our society.”
In a related development, Obasanjo also said that world leaders went away with favourable impression of President Muhammadu Buhari during the just concluded 70th UNGA.
Obasanjo who was also at the session said world leaders who spoke with him after President Buhari’s address of the session spoke with him of their impression of the President.
Obasanjo said former United States President, Bill Clinton and the former Prime Minster of the United Kingdom, Gordon Brown were amongst those who met President Obasanjo during the session.
Obasanjo said Nigeria, with the President addressing the session for the first time, in now at the table in the United Nations Assembly.
Obasanjo who spoke with Journalists shortly after arriving from the New York, the venue of the summit said, “I think the United Nations at the beginning of this millennium came out with certain goal that we should observe or we should work to achieve for out countries, it was 8 goals in the Millennium Development Goals, now it is more than that in this one and it is good.
“Apart from moderating conflict and preventing major war, world wars since the end of second world war, bringing about these elements or issues that can lead to development and making them goals for us to achieve is one important to area that the United Nation shown solidarity since its establishment.
“And of course, it is an annual arena for leaders to vent their views either on issues of particular interest with them in their country or issues them hat are of regional interest or eve of global interest and it is good that our own President was able to participate this year for the first time as elected President of Nigeria.
“I heard some of the comments of those he met, the comments that probably would not come back to him. He met Clinton for almost one hour and President Clinton, when I joined him for his global initiative talked to me about the impression of our President, it was favourable.
“Gordon Brown and I met him and we talked about issues. The few other leaders who met him gave me their impression and his debut so to say, it has been good. I think we are at the table, what they use to say that Nigeria is not at the table, now we are present at the table.”
Meanwhile, the Pan Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, has said yesterday’s Independence anniversary was not worth celebrating in the light of various challenges the country is being faced in recent times.
Leader of the group, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, who spoke with journalists in Akure, the Ondo state capital, yesterday, said with the current situation of the country “where workers are not being paid regularly, no employment opportunities for youths and current economics problem affecting the nation, does not warrant anything to be happy about.”
According to the octogenarian, “we cannot continue like this. What are we celebrating when salaries of workers are not being paid regularly, no employment for our youths, our economy is going down every day? There is insecurity and you say you are celebrating Nigeria at 55. To me, there is nothing to celebrate about at this critical time.”
On President Muhammadu Buhari’s delay in appointing his ministers, Fasoranti advised that the All Progressives Congress-led government to sit down and settle to work and stop deceiving Nigerians.
He said, “The government has been in power for five months now; we should know our ministers who will take charge of different ministries, but we only have promises without fulfillment.”
“President Muhammadu Buhari is just talking about fighting corruption but neglects other aspects. His government is very slow. Apart from his anti-corruption crusade, nothing has really happened, whereas the problems are there and they have to be tackled. My advice is that President Buhari should buckle up, he shouldn’t base everything on anti-corruption alone.”
Expressing optimism of better Nigeria in future, however, the Afenifere leader stressed that the country is full of human and natural resources that if well utilized, could stir the country for the better.
Fasoranti added that all the country needs “is to make use of the resources so that the country can move forward.
“Nigeria is a great country and the economy is coming up again while the people are looking forward for a great improvement from the administration of President Buhari.”