Nigeria more divided Now Than During Civil War – Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said that Nigeria was more divided now than during the civil war.

He has also warned that grave danger loomed ahead if Nigeria failed to take the ‘partnership’ seriously.

The elder statesman further held that unless the country got the issue of governance right, nothing else would work.

Obasanjo made these assertions on Thursday while speaking at the 2019 one-day annual retreat/conference and general meeting of members of Association of Chief Audit Executives of Banks in Nigeria held in Abeokuta where he was the guest speaker.

Speaking on the five Ps – Politics, Population, Prosperity, Protection and Partnership, the former President admonished Nigerians to partner with one another and to go further, at home, within communities, states, countries, sub-African region and African continent.

“When we look at this country today, even during the civil war, we were not as divided as we are today. Today, we are in danger if we don’t take partnership seriously; Partnership within our people and partnership within Africa and the rest of the world.”

He told members of ACAEBIN, that the private sector was the life blood of development in every economy of a country.

He said, “As chief audit executives, it is defined by virtue of what you are doing as a profession. If the audit is awry, banking business will not be right.

“What I want to emphasise is that, it is a must as Nigerians and as Africans, that we have certain elements that we have to take very seriously which I put as five Ps.

“The first is politics which is governance. Unless we get governance right, any other thing we are trying to do will not be right.

“The second is population. Our population at independence, we were estimated to be 45 million; but today, we are 200 million.

“By the year 2050, we will be over 400 million. Normally, population should be an asset, but looking at the condition we are in now, when in the North-East of Nigeria, the percentage of adult literacy is about 53 per cent, you can see that we have a problem and education is basic in all human development.

“How do we think of making education to be useful? Those people who will make our population over 400 million in years time are already born and you cannot unborn them. So, the problem is here, what do we do?

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“We must provide education for them, housing, healthcare and more importantly, employment for them.”

As one of the ways out of the quagmire, especially in the provision of employment Obasanjo, who is a long time farmer said agriculture could help.

“One thing that I believe will help us is to provide employment, and probably part of what will help us is agric business.

“And you in the banking business must pay attention to how we build the agric sector.

“I am not talking of horticulture; I am talking of the whole value chain, from land preparation.

“And if we are able to get that right, maybe we will be able to get the issue of employment for our teeming youths right, we will be able to get even the issue of rural development right, we will be able to get the issue of the gap between the have and the have not right.

On the issue of prosperity, he maintained that Nigeria and indeed the African continent had all they need to prosper. The only thing lacking according to him was the ability to harness the resources effectively.

His words: “The next one is prosperity. I am not being bothered about Nigeria’s poverty or Africa poverty. We have everything to generate wealth. We have God’s given resources under our soil. We also have human resources. If we bring these together, then, we will definitely get prosperity.”

Touching on protection and by extension security, former President Obasanjo insisted that people must be protected in all aspects for them to feel secure. “Protect lives, protect property and the people can actually feel that they are protected,” he said.