Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, on Friday, declared that the present federal security architecture as organised and operated by President Muhammadu Buhari-led government cannot give any individual or group hope, let alone assurance of security within Nigeria.
Obasanjo, who stated that Nigerians’ destiny lies in their hands, equally said in making reforms, restructuring, security architecture, structure and arrangement must devolve more security responsibility on the community, local and state authorities.
He tasked Nigerians to begin to seek to know why the criminals are engaging in crimes, in order to begin to work out permanent solution that will move criminals from crimes, and take away insecurity in the country.
The former president spoke at the 2020 Sobo Sowemimo Annual Lecture, held at the Abeokuta Club.
The lecture which was virtually delivered by Obasanjo was entitled: “COVID-19 And Nigeria Security Issues: The Way Forward”.
He pointed out that Nigerians, in the last two weeks, had commented and remarked seriously on the state of insecurity in the country, occasioned by criminality and acts of lawlessness that were brazen and outrageous with seeming government powerlessness to act effectively.
While declaring that “criminality has become the order of the day” in Nigeria, Obasanjo posited that without restructuring, Nigeria will remain insecure, unstable, non-progressive and stagnated at best or disintegrated at the worst.
He added that no geo-political zone is secure in the country, saying the willful and unhelpful acts of government at the centre had made some governors to devise means of enhancing security within their states and their geo-political zones.
He stated it was evident that no ethnic group nor geopolitical zone and not even the Fulanis in Nigeria are collectively satisfied with the present situation in spite of president Buhari being a Fulani man.
“I remain firmly convinced that without reform of federating units, as I will like to satisfy those who may not like the word ‘restructuring’, Nigeria will remain insecure, unstable, non-progressive and stagnated at best or disintegrated at the worst. I have not lived for the demise of Nigeria nor for its destruction or incapacitation in any form. Rather, I have lived to make and see a great and united country.
I shrink from the use of some words and language, i.e. mistake of 1914; Nigeria as a geographical expression or its existence is an artificiality. There is no country that does not have history of togetherness, build up, reform or structural and component building as a geographical expression. What matters is how the leaders and the led work together harmoniously, cooperatively, inclusively and equitably together. Such togetherness must be devoid of domineering spirit or tendencies, disregard or disrespect of any component and with observance of, and respect for fundamental human rights. Merit, competence and sincerity must be maintained by leaders at all levels to keep things running selflessly, honestly and with utter dedication for the best for all and not for a few or a section. If any proclamation is meant to achieve this objective, I wish it every success. I cannot see myself as a builder of Nigeria becoming a destroyer of it but neither will I do anything or fail to do anything that will perpetually suppress and enslave my children and their children in the land of their birth, Nigeria, which I love, nor will I want other peoples’ children to be so enslaved or shackled and their horizon limited by the place of their birth in Nigeria which is God ordained.
“The issue of Nigeria’s future as a result of our current security situation must not be taken non-seriously as I see it as a matter of life and death for our country which must not be toyed with. I very much believe that God created Nigeria to lead the black race as the Americans lead the white race for now and the Chinese lead the brown or yellow race. We must do everything to actualise the plan of God for Nigeria not minding the great crises of the past and gross under-performance, incompetence and failure of the present. This makes me ask the question, “Is 1914 a mistake or the act of God through the instrumentality of man?” I do not believe God makes a mistake and He has His hands in the affairs of any man or woman and in the affairs of any nation. God is purposeful and His mystery may not be easily comprehensible. Nigeria, to me, is a creation of God for justice, fairness and equity amongst its component parts.
“Let me lay more emphasis on the issue of security which in itself is serious enough to make restructuring imperative. The South-West Governors cried out and devised Amotekun as a solution or part-solution. We are yet to see how successfully that will be operated. Other zones are clamouring for a solution because in no State and in no geopolitical zone is life and property safe and secure. Criminality is the order of the day. And it cuts across the entire nation. Insecurity is one issue of commonality among Nigerians no matter their tribe, language, religion, geographical location, gender, age or social position. If we are all held hostage by criminality of Boko Haram, terrorists, herdsmen/farmers, bandits, kidnappers, militants, armed robbers, then we all have common ground to seek common solution by putting aside governance collapse, incompetence, failure, insincerity and insensitivity and chart a new stable, enduring and generally sustainable basis and platform for Nigeria Federation. What is permanent and constant in life are change, reform and re-adjustment. To avoid change when it is necessary is to avoid progress. Inflexibility is a sign of a sick mind especially in the face of overwhelming evidence for change. People often refer to history and the past to justify their rigidity. My position has always been, remember history but don’t be shackled by it nor become its hostage. For me, I don’t want to inherit the enemies of my father, that is part of history. My father’s time and life are different from mine. Circumstances do change and only fools will not know and acknowledge that. Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and other past leaders have lived their lives at their own times. They have done their best and they should be respected for their service. And if in our own time we only have to live the way they lived and only be guided by what they believed and did without any change, then we might as well not have been born because we add nothing to improve the situation and to make the society better. That will be utterly wrong and unfortunate. If we all have to agree to make Nigeria our country, and not only Yoruba country, Ibo country, Fulani country, Ibibio country, Gbashama country, Urhobo country, etc., we have to change our mindset, our attitude, our orientation and embrace inclusiveness and equal opportunities, equity, justice and love. If we only dwell on others’ mistakes of the past and cover up our own, Nigeria will be at best stagnated or at the worst destroyed as an entity. Those who cannot feel comfortable in the company of other ethnic or religious groups, have no business in aspiring to leadership of a multi-ethnic and multi-religious nation like Nigeria. They will do great harm to the entity and, in fact, become security risks”. Obasanjo stated in the lecture.
On COVID-19, the former president said “though restriction is being lifted, we are not out of the woods yet. Awareness-raising must continue and we must disabuse the minds of the ordinary people who are being made to believe that COVID-19 is not real or that it is the disease of the rich. They must be conscious of the fact that the disease has no social or economic limitation or barrier. It can afflict anybody no matter his or her age, gender, profession or trade, social or economic standing. We must not let down our guard because we may not have reached the peak yet”.