by Isi Esene
“Nigeria is in a toxic situation” – President Obasanjo speaks exclusively to Y! Magazine
Former president Olusegun Obasanjo granted an exclusive sit-down to Y! Magazine at his Ota home – and it is featured in the latest issue of the magazine released this week.
In the wide-ranging interview anchored by Managing Editor, Adebola Williams, the two-time Nigerian leader spoke on thestate of the nation, his tenure as president, the structure of the federation, corruption and related matters, and the place and duty of the youth.
“Who said former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo has mellowed down?” said Williams. “As usual, he doesn’t mince his words in this relaxed, but incisive conversation.”
Obasanjo shared his thoughts on the tough decisions he had to make as president: “By now, Na’aba or whatever you call that character who took a lorry to Abuja from Kano, became Speaker and was riding in strings of cars would have been know for impeaching me after many threats,” he said. And I said, if this impeachment will come let it come and I will go back to my farm but what I will not accept, I will not accept.”
He spoke about his biggest achievement in office: “One, that I protected Nigeria from breaking up. When I became elected president, many Nigerians did not think that Nigeria would survive – something many people seem to have forgotten now,” he said.
“For instance, there was still grief and a feeling of alienation by the Igbos although the war had long ended; they had not felt that they had fully reaped the benefits of the end of the war. Two, the Yorubas generally were feeling bad about the situation of Abiola and the June 12 election. Three, the Niger Delta essentially were feeling bad about being rich and yet remaining very poor. Four, the North were being accused of monopolising power and each of these group were looking at themselves and thinking, if the worst comes to the worst, they would go it alone. Each of them was getting its own militants in one form or the other; the OPC (O’odua People’s Congress) in the West, Egbesu in the Niger Delta, and the Arewa People’s Congress (in the North).
“That was the situation and that’s what made people to believe that after me, as president, there would be no other president again; that Nigeria will disintegrate on my head. But that wasn’t the case, and you cannot quantify what a huge achievement that was.”
And, he shared his thoughts honestly on the state of the nation: “We are in a situation in this country now, or if you like, in a state of insecurity. It’s a toxic situation. It does not matter how much blame on the leadership is unfair or unwarranted, the public won’t support the leader. It’s like when a country is at war. Everything in the country must be dear to us in the war. After you have done the war, you can now start apportioning blame because there are many things going wrong in our country. There will be something wrong with our country or any country at any point. The question is how serious and what we are doing about it – and in this case it is serious.”
The full text of the interview is in the magazine – which is now available with vendors, stores and state representatives nationwide.
Y! Magazine has over the past few years established itself as the go-to for youth issues and culture, and has interviewed the nation’s top leaders including President Goodluck Jonathan, the Ministers of Trade and Investment, Communication Technology and Youth Development, and opposition figures including Professor Patrick Utomi.
It is the sister brand to YNaija.com, which is the definitive Internet Newspaper for Young Nigerians.