by Azeez Adeniyi
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said his generation has failed Nigeria.
Obasanjo spoke as the chairman of the 38th Kaduna International Trade Fair’s Seminar organised by the Kaduna Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture on Monday.
The former President said the present generation of leaders lack the capacity to move the country forward.
Obasanjo identified bad leadership as one of the major challenges facing Nigeria.
He however said his generation has succeeded in keeping Nigeria united and in democracy.
He said God has given Nigeria everything it needs to be great but for leadership challenges it faces.
He said, “God in His mercy has given us all the needed resources, both human and natural, but we have not been able to put them together and manage them effectively. The countries that have developed and are performing better are not better than Nigeria in terms of resources.
“One problem that must be corrected is the problem of leadership. This is because our leaders lack focus, commitment, continuity and sometimes proper knowledge about economic and development issues, hence we have not been able to achieve meaningful result.”
He added, “Somebody came to me and said we need to pray to God and I said, for what? He said, ‘so that God can do for us, what we cannot do for ourselves.’ And I said, no, let us stop troubling God, because God has done all we need for us, we only need to play our own part.”
Obasanjo added that Nigeria cannot move forward until it gets the right leadership it needs.
“Another problem is that, we take one step forward and another step backward. Nigerian leaders must be tough and ready to bite the bullet, because Nigeria cannot have it easy. Until we get the right leadership, the problem will continue,” he said.
He said leaders of the first generation gave Nigeria independence but the present generation sadly has nothing to offer.
He said, “It doesn’t matter what you want to say about them, the Awolowos, Nnamdi Azikiwes, the Sardaunas, Aminu Kanos, Tafawa Balewas, gave us independence, they were not perfect and if you like, you can even go from now till tomorrow to condemn what they did, but they gave us independence.
“My own generation fought for the unity of Nigeria. You cannot deny that. There are many things we must have done wrong but we fought for the unity of this country. I still have sharp nails from grenades that entered my body that our brothers shot at me during the Civil War. But, at the end of it, we reconciled.
“In addition, my generation laid the foundation of democracy in the country. Our democracy is not perfect, our democracy is a journey and not a destination, we must continue to improve on it. My sons and daughters, what will your generation do?”
He added that the private and public sector must work together for the country to experience real economic growth.
Obasanjo said, “When we were in office, we privatised the NNPC and sold it to Dangote and partners, but the government that succeeded me revoked it and that is why till today, the NNPC cannot work optimally.
“Today, the same Dangote that was denied ownership of the NNPC is building a refinery that can produce in excess of what the NNPC can produce and what Nigeria can consume. So, it means he will even export.”