Former Nigerian president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday disagreed with advocates of restructuring of the country, saying the same social crises of injustice, impunity and bad governance will persist in a restructured country.
Obasanjo who was a guest of the chairman of Lee Engineering and Construction Company Limited, Chief Leemon Ikpea, spoke at the palace of the Olu of Warri, Ogiame Ikenwoli, in Delta State. He said he did not see anything wrong with a united Nigeria.
The former leader was reacting to a speech delivered at the reception, on behalf of the Olu by Chief Brown Mene.
He commended the Itsekiri people for their perseverance and decision to stand against any divisive agitation despite their complaints against perceived marginalization and demand for better treatment and equity.
He noted that all Nigeria’s problems could be sorted out through dialogue and negotiations, and not secession.
He said, “I believe that we can solve all our problems through dialogue, engagement, discussion and conversation. As you rightly remarked, I participated in the civil war and I said never again will I participate in any civil war again in my life.
“It was gruesome, it was destructive and it was deadly. The people who are now clamoring for whatever they are clamoring for don’t even know what war means. They don’t.
Whoever has seen the devastation of war, the destruction of war and the mindlessness of war will never want to see war again and may we never have another war again.
“The answer to most of our problems is mindset change and change of mentality. If we need any restructuring, it is the restructuring of our mindset and mentality. How will anybody in his right senses believe separation is the way out? We have passed that stage”.
Acknowledging the fact that there are problems in the country, Obasanjo pointed out that there are many ways the problems facing the country can be solved.
He continued: “It is our diversity that make us a great country. I won’t want a Nigeria where we dance same juju, or wear same attire. Our strength is in our diversity. Some progress is being made in spite of our difficulties and problems. We need to make greater progress than we have made before.
“If we do that, we’ll have good governance, there will be no impunity. Everybody will have a sense of belonging, a stake in this project called Nigeria. Nothing is wrong with Nigeria; rather, a lot is wrong with Nigerians. We need to correct what is wrong with Nigerians. Some of us have to speak up because if things are wrong and you don’t speak up, then you have become an accomplice.
“Dismemberment of Nigeria is not good enough. Harmony and cohesion in Nigeria is what we should substitute for dismemberment. Inequity, injustice or unfairness are not good enough. We should substitute them with equity, fairness, good government and lack of impunity”.
Speaking earlier at the Delta state office of Lee Engineering and Construction Limited at Ekpan, the former president noted that the development of the company and others like it was the fruit of the local content law, which was made during his administration.