FORMER President Olusegun Obasnjo is canvassing a new Nigeria based on the principles of democracy, equity, justice, mutual respect, egalitarianism, good governance, federal character, merit and competence.
And he believes there are Nigerians “in all walks of life, from all ethnic groups, religious groups, cultural groups, political groups and across age and gender who will work genuinely and sincerely for the emergence” of such a new Nigeria.
Obasanjo spoke on Friday at the 2020 Annual Sobo Sowemimo Lecture held at the Abeokuta Club in Abeokuta.
He called for an end to what he labeled as papering over the obvious cracks in Nigeria’s polity.
According to him, papering over the cracks will not solve the problems, neither will “tearing up or seeking disintegration.”
He asked all well-meaning Nigerians to speak out because, according to him, “remaining silent makes us accomplices and irresponsibly so.”
He said: “The solution lies in men and women imbued with courage, nationalism, patriotism, commitment, foresight and love in critical mass to spearhead the crusade for new Nigeria.
“Let us launch and promote such a crusade on the slogan, “Security Matters To All; No security, No Nigeria”.
“The time is now. Delay is postponing the evil day.”
The former president similarly called for serious attention towards the country’s economic challenges, saying that “I see it as a matter of life and death for our country, which must not be toyed with”.
He said: “Insecurity brought about by widespread criminality of Boko Haram, insurgents, herdsmen/farmers conflict, terrorists, bandits, armed robbers, militants, kidnappers, abductors and human traffickers is a new phenomenon that is ravaging the entire country.
“The causes are many but the solution is beyond the capacity of the government.
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“Prompt action is required from all well-meaning Nigerians from across the board as we are all victims and hostages.
“We must not adopt position of mindlessness ‘do nothing’ and allow a few to wreck our present and our future.”
On the COVID-19 pandemic, Obasanjo warned Nigerians not to mistake the lifting of restrictions on lockdown for the end of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The former president, who spoke on “COVID-19 and Nigeria Security Issues: The Way Forward”, described COVID-19 as a disease that Nigeria in particular and Africa in general was ill-prepared and poorly equipped for.
The elder statesman commended the federal and the state governments for the efforts and measures they had taken to deal seriously with the virus.
“The idea of leaving the states to deal with the issue mainly at their level on the principle of subsidiarity was a good one.
“It allowed each state with its limited resources and facilities to gear itself up and to issue instructions and regulations on restrictions based on the reality of the state,” he said.