Nigeria deserves a national leader with vision not a parochial president – Obasanjo
“We seem to have taken nation-building for granted. Nation-building must be given continued attention to give every citizen a feeling of belonging and a stake in his or her country…. the federal character principle, as espoused in our constitution, was to guide the leadership to search for competent holders of major offices to be distributed within the entire nation and avoid the concentration in a few ethnic hands or geographical places as we currently have in the leadership of our security apparatus.”
Nigeria’s ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo has formally registered with the Coalition for Nigerian Movement – a coalition he is spearheading for good governance and national cohesion. Obasanjo had announced the birth of the movement over a week ago when he published a damning treatise on the current government led by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Obasanjo condemned President Buhari for being “inept, nepotic, poor in understanding Nigeria’s dynamic politics and inability to relate with Nigeria’s diversity.”
He alleged that governance under Buhari has been a colossal failure in the building of a unified, cohesive nation. The ex-President said he would be spearheading a new movement with like-minded Nigerians to foster regeneration and visionary leadership.
In registering with the Coalition for Nigerian Movement, he has fulfilled that promise to begin a political process that will run against those currently in power. Obasanjo has gained reputation for fighting those in power once convinced they were working contrary to his expectations. Below is his full statement on the occasion of his registration with Coalition for Nigerian Movement:
Ladies and Gentlemen and members of the Fourth Estate of the Realm, I welcome you to this simple but important ceremony of my registering as a member of the Coalition for Nigeria Movement and I thank you for being here.
Last week, I issued a statement which I did not do lightly or frivolously but out of deep concern for the situation of our country. I gave an expose on some aspects of our situations as I have observed them. I also took liberty to offer advice politely knowing fully well that my advice could be heeded or may be ignored. However, heeded or not, I strongly believe that Nigeria cannot continue with business as usual.
So, I proffered a way out or a way forward.
If the instruments we have used so far in our nation-building and governance since independence have not served us well, it is imperative that we should rethink and retool. It was Einstein who stated that it would amount to height of folly for anybody or any group to continue to do things in the same way and expect different results.
Coalition for Nigeria Movement is proposed as the new direction to mobilise our population for unity, cooperation, development, rule of law, employment, law and order, justice, integration, peace, security, stability, welfare and well-being. In these regards, special attention and space must be given to youths and women, who in most cases, have been victims and underlings.
I am particularly happy that yesterday, men and women (of all ages) of like minds joined hands to launch Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM). Among many other things that CNM will do is to raise standards generally but particularly standards of political leadership and governance.
Like all countries, Nigeria has many challenges. That, by itself, is not what we should worry about. What should matter is how, when and with what instruments we address or fail to address these challenges or create more problems.
Let me emphasise important areas, programme, priorities, or processes for improved attention. To start with, we seem to have taken nation-building for granted. Nation-building must be given continued attention to give every citizen a feeling of belonging and a stake in his or her country.
For instance, the federal character principle, as espoused in our constitution, was to guide the leadership to search for competent holders of major offices to be distributed within the entire nation and avoid the concentration in a few ethnic hands or geographical places as we currently have in the leadership of our security apparatus.
To avoid such non-integrative situation, we have the National Assembly and the Federal Character Commission, both institutions which must raise alarm or call for correction of actions by the executive that violates the spirit of our constitution. In like manner, the spate of violence, criminality, organised crime, insurgency and terrorism have not received sufficient proactive ameliorative responses through transformational leadership – a determined leadership that brings cohesion and wholesomeness to the polity.
Nobody and no group should feel excluded in his or her own country. Inclusion and popular participation must be visibly pursued in terms of politics, the economy and our overall social life.
I am happy to be a member of the Coalition for Nigeria Movement. The movement is a pressure point towards good governance. This is the commencement for our popular and grassroots association. Of course, the membership will be free to collectively decide on whether CNM becomes a political party. If the Movement decides to transform itself and go into partisan politics, I will cease to be a member. And as a member for now, I accept all the conditions attached to membership of the Coalition.
We must promote the CNM and mobilise membership all over the country including membership from the Diaspora. This is an opportunity for women and men, especially youths who have hitherto been feeling marginalised and helpless to go all out and bring friends and families into the CNM fold. The CNM will remain a popular socio-economic Movement open to all Nigerians who believe in the greatness of Nigeria and are ready to contribute to it.
Some people have started worrying about the problem of personalities, in which some, in other efforts allocate positions to themselves. This Movement is not about personality or personalities; but about platform and system. Our system so far has not given us what we must have. For the first time we are building a platform from bottom-up. The Movement’s base is the grassroots and the people – all the people. When the platform is formed and the new system is put in place, the Movement may decide to sponsor/support candidates or transform itself into a political machine for that purpose.
A socio-economic popular Movement needs to be the new vehicle to give hope to the youths, dignity and encouragement to women and security, confidence, and a promising future to all Nigerians. It must work to bring about a new democratic and efficient Nigeria. The Movement must speak up boldly and bluntly about the truth but politely in accordance with African culture.
The Movement will also act collectively with political awareness, social responsibility, sustained and sustainable economic development and progress. Timidity and cowardice must not be part of its make-up or culture and neither must there be indifference. He who keeps quiet, inactive and indifferent in the face of bad act is an accomplice to that act. Self-interest, self-centredness and selfishness must be put aside. National interest must be paramount. The Movement will teach what it believes and practice what it teaches.
It is necessary to make it clear that this movement does not regard itself as a third force. It sees itself as a popular movement that can accommodate all Nigerians irrespective of their political interest or affiliations and will propel Nigeria forward. Nigeria belongs to all Nigerians to be made right and the Coalition with others of the same view and like minds will leave no stone unturned to actualise God-given potentials of our country. The Movement will spearhead process, programme, policies and priorities to make Nigeria a great country playing its expected roles within West Africa, Africa and the world.
Nigerian youth will be emboldened, empowered, have employment, and play meaningful and responsible roles in the leadership and governance of the country in all ramifications. Nigerian women will have dignity, responsibility and equal consideration with men in the affairs of Nigeria. The Movement is a means to an end. The end is Nigeria, unshackled, united, dynamic, strong, secure, cohesive, stable, and prosperous at home and respected outside, and as result, able to play decisive roles assertively within the comity of nations.
A Nigeria of hope, aspiration and assurances which belongs to all with no sacred cow nor sacrificial lamb is what we want. My Nigeria, your Nigeria and our Nigeria with enchanting present and secure and glorious future. Join the Movement to build a new Nigeria that will be in the hands of God.