Nigeria More Divided Now, Needs Nat’l Reconciliation — Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has lamented the deteriorating state of Nigeria, saying the country is pres­ently more divided and corroded than what leaders of thought had in mind, and now needs national reconcilia­tion.

Obasanjo, who was a guest of hon­our at a public lecture series tagged, ‘From Elections to Governance and Performance’, on Thursday in Abu­ja, said with the current situation on ground, it would not be out of place for a national reconciliation, which will assuage the feelings of aggrieved Ni­gerians, particularly the youth population…..CONTINUE READING

He criticised the growing debt profile and spending spree of government at all tiers, especial­ly those at the helm of affairs cur­rently, likening the situation to “spending like a drunken sailor”.

The former president, who re­cently wrote a letter to a British court appealing for leniency for Ex-Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu and his wife, who have been convicted over organ harvesting plot, said he was now too old to keep quiet over unfold­ing events in Nigeria.

The event, put together by Nextier SPD, also witnessed the public presentation of a book, ‘The Unending Quest for Re­form: An Intellectual Memoir’, authored by Prof. Tunji Olaopa.

Obasanjo, however, advised that for reforms to take root, there must be political will and concerted effort to drive it by all stakeholders in Nigeria.

While speaking to the issues of reforms, he said governance in Nigeria now calls for thinking outside the box in terms of devel­opment financing.

According to him, this trend of thinking has become inev­itable in the face of Nigeria’s dwindling fortune, in oil revenue, Nigeria’s huge foreign indebted­ness and the urgency of diversi­fying the Nigeria’s neo-cultural economy.

He said, “Let me suggest three ideas that I think can enrich the direction of the conversation here today.

“One, given what we saw during the election, Nigeria is now even more divided and more corroded than we thought. This places a deep onus on any administration following the cur­rent one, to urgently facilitate the process of national moral rear­mament and national reconcil­iation that the potential will en­hance skilled for the aggrieved and will lead us across Nigeria and to assuage the youths.

“This must be done in sync with the imperative of national value orientation that Nigeria re­quires to build a collective sense of enduring and local values and national belonging.

“Two, governance in Nigeria now calls for thinking outside the box in terms of development financing. This has become in­evitable in the face of Nigeria’s dwindling fortune, in oil revenue, Nigeria’s huge foreign indebted­ness and the urgency of diversi­fying the Nigeria’s neo-cultural economy.

“We cannot be spending like drunken sailor on frivolities and corruption and expect develop­ment and growth. Such situation cannot take us into the fourth industrial revolution already underway or be fair also defeat.

“My experience and under­standing, however, is that the money to develop and grow our economy is out there if we pro­vide conducive environment for it to come and stay.

“Three, political will, political action and administrative efforts must be invested on reforming the public service into a capabil­ity ready institution that could enable Nigeria’s development agenda beyond 2023.

“All of these and more are necessary to correct and not to repeat the sickening and painful show of shame which the elec­tions of 2023 generated into.

“Let me conclude by stating clearly that I am now too old to keep quiet and watch Nigeria seemingly clueless launch into dystopia. All efforts are now required from all well-meaning and committed patriots to rescue the nation from the precipice. And when I look at the audience I have a feeling that among the people who can do it and who must do it are some of you here.

“It has become my own per­sonal obligation, continuing in my relentless service as letter­man, dedicated in my twilight years to say the truth, as I see it, so as to push Nigeria, in the direction of our collective aspi­rations. What is our collective as­piration? A better society where all Nigerian can become what the Almighty God destined to be.

“At times like this, some of us have to adopt the attitude of being known to be blind and not being afraid of the dark. But we must continually work for the light of all.

“Once again, I congratulate you, Tunji, for your continuing labour on behalf of the Nigerian public service and most impor­tantly, for adding this significant intellectual memoir to your huge collection of publications and to the annals of administrative re­forms in Nigeria, at this defining and auspicious moment like this.

“This memoir must find its way into all federal and state ministries as well as the nation­al libraries in Nigeria. Of course, it must become one item in the fundamental reading list of all serious minded Nigerian, devel­opment worker, public manager, policymakers, development theo­rists and planners and adminis­trative scholars”.

Founding partner at Nexti­er SPD, Patrick Okigbo, while interacting with journalists at the event, noted that reforming the civil service was necessary to drive electoral programmes and promises that would better the lot of all Nigerians.

According to him, it is one thing to have a political will as a leader and another thing entirely to translate the will into action­able projects which is what re­forms is all about.

Okigbo said, “Every four years, we go to elections, politi­cians make promises of what they want to do and at the end of the day, not a lot happens, it is not because these politicians are bad people, it is not because they do not want to do stuff, it is basically because all the electoral promis­es will have to be delivered by the public service, the civil servants, the political appointees.

“If the civil service does not have the capacity to deliver on these promises, they will remain mere promises, so what we are at­tempting to do here is to convene leading scholars, leading practi­tioners, leading policy advocates, development partners etc., to say what is the pathway for reform­ing Nigeria’s public service. Tun­ji Olaopa, the author of the book is one of the most prolific writers on public service reforms.

“I think we have kind of mystified political will, we have created a myth around political will and I give you an example: President Muhammadu Buhari can decide that he wants to do XYZ, what he should do is to discuss with ministers at FEC and give an instruction to get it done, who then takes it from that point, when a presidential directive has been issued it is the civil service.

“The president is not the Holy Spirit, he cannot be everywhere as there are only 24 hours in a day, by the way I am not mak­ing excuses for him. I am just saying that even after you bring the political will, it is not enough. What you need is an institution that has the capacity to deliver on those promises or programmes…..CONTINUE READING