Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has said that Nigeria which used to be known as a country “flowing with milk and honey” is now a “country flowing with bitterness and sadness,” with the rising insecurity and the decline in the economy.
He added: “Nigeria has been destined to lead the black race, but the failure of leadership has impeded it from taking its place in the comity of developed nations.
He said this in his remarks at the presentation of a book “The Man, The General, The President” written in his honour by Otunba Femmy Carrena, in commemoration of his 84th birthday, held on March 5, at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta, on Thursday.
Obasanjo noted that the future of the country is bleak if the children were not given an education which he described as the bedrock of the nation’s national development.
The former president insisted that the country had drifted from where God had positioned it to be with the many problems battling it.
“We are not where God has positioned us to be as a country. Education must be one of the main pillars of getting Nigeria to where it should be and for the over 14 million Nigerian children that are now out of school, we must find a way of getting them into school.
“We are preparing the Boko Haram of tomorrow and there is nothing that will prevent that. If we don’t do it now, then we lose the opportunity and the consequences in the future will be grave.
“Some of us might have gone, but those who will be around will bear the brunt of a problem. My own belief is that God had created races in the world and at one time or the other, he has decided that every race will be led by a particular nation in the world.”
He insisted that good governance and purposeful leadership, thereby calling on all Nigerians to join hands together towards taking the country to where God has created it to be.
“My prayer is that all of us particularly in this country and now is that we will have something to contribute to making this country to the making of what God has created it to be; a land flowing with milk and honey.
“Right now, it is a land flowing with bitterness and sadness. That is not what God wants this country to be.
“We must change the narrative. We must talk to ourselves in the civilized language. There is no where you go in this country that you will not see a genius in any section of the country.
“So, for what reason should we look down on ourselves or others except we are not human beings.”
He lamented that Nigerians are choked at home when they are given assignment but excel “fantastically well” outside the shores of the country.
“We have great Nigerians. Why do Nigerians bloom outside Nigeria? As of today, we have five Nigerians directly running international organisations and running them very well and one or two at the number two-level.
“We have Akin Adesina running the African Development Bank (AfDB), we have Benedict Oramah running the Afrexim Bank; we have Mohammed Barkindo running the OPEC; we have my sister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala running the WTO and we have Amina Mohammed who I think celebrated her 60th birthday yesterday or day before yesterday, who is number two in the United Nations (UN). These are things that should give hope and encouragement for the future.
“The point is that if these people are here in Nigeria if you hear of them at all, we would have shackled them and made it impossible for them to perform as they are performing outside.
“And each of these people that I have mentioned, they are doing fantastically well. We have even at the AU, Ambassador Bankole Adeoye who had just taken over as the Commissioner for Political Affairs & Peace and Security (PAPS) of the AU.
“So why are they doing well there and here, we are not doing well? Something must be wrong. We should be interrogating this. We should and then what should we do? What we should do is put the house in order and we can put our house in order.”
The book with 10 chapters of 141 pages was facilitated by Dr Taiwo Afolabi and was reviewed by Emeritus Professor Micheal Omolewa.
The author told the audience that the former president inspired him and gave him the approval to write the book over 11 years ago.