Nigeria’s former leader, Olusegun Obasanjo said the country may have been cursed with poor and irresponsible leaders. He said this today while giving a keynote address at the 4th Annual Ibadan Sustainable Development Summit organised by Centre for Sustainable Development, University of Ibadan, in collaboration with African Sustainable Development Network.
According to him, if Nigerians were yet to commend a leader after 53 years of independence, “Then we are jinxed and cursed; we should all go to hell.” He condemned the younger generation of leaders in the country, saying they lack integrity and probity and have failed their people woefully. Making specific reference to his Vice President for eight years, Atiku Abubakar; former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu; former Speaker, House of Representatives, Salisu Buhari; former Bayelsa State Governor, Deprieye Alamieyeseigha; and others as younger generation of leaders, the former President said Nigeria was not lucky even with them.
“We had some people who were under 50years in leadership positions. One of them was James Ibori, where is he today? One of them was Alamieyeseigha, where is he today? Lucky Igbinedion, where is he today? “The youngest was the Speaker, (Salisu) Buhari; you can still recall what happened to him. You said Bola Tinubu is your master. What Buhari did was not anything worse than what Bola Tinubu did.
“We got them impeached. But in this part of the world some people covered up the other man. The man claimed he went to Government College, Ibadan but the governor (Oyo State) went to Government College and packed all the documents so that they would not know that he did not go there.
“I wanted someone who would succeed me so I took Atiku. Within a year, I started seeing the type of man Atiku is. And you want me to get him there? “I once went to Tanzania because Julius Nyerere recognised Biafra. He told me not to mind his aides and others in government. They would say they have one house in town but their five year old sons and daughters would have houses all over.
“Some of you who are condemning the leadership would get there tomorrow and it will be a different story. Only very few are actually good. “Abacha, my predecessor got $750m. Through our lawyer in Switzerland we recovered $1.25bn and the lawyer still said there is probably still another $1bn to be recovered. In 1979 we had 20 new ships specially built for Nigeria. When I came back 20 years after, the national shipping line had liquidated. “The whole thing is not just about leadership. If we talk about good leadership you should also talk about good followers. If you talk about human right you should also talk about human duties and obligations.
“It is sad that after 53years of independence we have no leader that we can commend. The problem in Africa is that when one person takes over he would not see any good thing that his predecessor did. Let us condemn but with caution,” the former military ruler and two-term democractically elected president said.
The former president’s speech was not all a diatribe against the younger generation of leaders.
He was also concerned with the high level of youth unemployment and the general insecurity in Nigeria. He called for concerted efforts to tackle youth unemployment.
“The vulnerability we are all exposed to because of having millions of unemployed people can only worsen when the problem is treated with neglect.
“The Nigerian state is currently beset by myriad of security, economic, environmental and social challenges.
“The issue of security is most pervasive not only in terms of Boko Haram, but also in terms of armed robbery, kidnapping, corruption, flood, erosion, drug and human trafficking,” he said.
Obasanjo, who identified exemplary leadership as a corollary to providing an avenue for citizens to enjoy the dividends of democracy, said efforts to restore peace in the country must be sustained. “Without adequate mechanism to restore peace, the country risks losing more lives and property and in particular the goal of sustainable development would be out of reach,” he added.