“We need more commitment to our nation,” Obasanjo calls for patriotism by all

Former Leader Olusegun Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has enjoined Nigerians to show more commitment to the country and keep faith and hope for a better future, adding that losing faith would could be dangerous for the nation’s immediate future.

He pin-pointed that it would be the greatest pitfall  to lose interest in the country, admitting that it is unquestionable that a lot of things are wrong at the moment.

He  advised Nigerians against losing interest in the country, saying the greatest pitfall that they must avoid is to lose faith in the country. He admitted that even though so many things are wrong with the country, all must continue to believe in it.

He reiterated his commitment to aunited  Nigeria,  repeating his appeal during a London programme in 2009 in which he claimed that during the last civil war both himself and other military colleagues including Murtala Mohammed kept reminding themselves  of the essence of the war which was to keep Nigeria intact.

Obasanjo traced history, stressing that his commitment as a military head of state, was looking forward to the best way to forge ahead as a united and reliant country.

According to him such commitment resulted in the production of 1979 Constitution “which I believed would forge a united and reliant country.”

Obasanjo, who made the disclosure in Lagos while delivering a lecture on the theme: “Leadership Foundation and Underpinning,” organised by Nigeria Leadership Initiative, said in the London Ben Television programme ‘Yoruba Gbayi’ that   for God to have put the geographical expression called Nigeria together, He has a reason, adding that the greatest economic and political strength rested on the nation’s size and population.

“We are well endowed and must strive to keep the endowments and should not allow our being spoit by God to create our sources of disintegration”, he disclosed in the programme.

Speaking during the week at the lecture the former leader also broke his silence on the alleged $16 billion spent by his administration on independent power project (IPP), saying he couldn’t complete the project because it did not start early.

According to the former leader, lack of funds delayed the take off of the project, and  that when his  administration eventually had money to pursue the project, it was already late and hence, the option  to go for IPP.

Implying that as a result of the late take off, the government ran out of time to complete the project he revealed that the oil companies which should have financed the power project failed to come to the aid of his government.

Obasanjo however felf self fulfilled for the nation  boasting that  besides the power project, his administration achieved every other thing it planned to achieve.

He recalled that when he came on board in 1999, he met only paltry $3.5 billion dollars in the reserve and upon his exit, he left whopping $45 billion as well as $25 billion in excess crude account to the government of the late President  Musa Yar’Adua.

He also felt elated that even though he met only 35,000 metric tones of cocoa when he came to office, he raised it to 400,000 metric tones upon his exit in 2007.

Obasanjo who flayed comments at the event that he was a military dictator, said it was wrong to assume that every military man is a dictator. He argued that if former military President, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, addressed himself as a dictator, he (Obasanjo) never did.

The former president noted that one of the problems bedevilling Africa is lack of leadership training and exposure, explaining that future leaders need to experience sound training and exposure as he revealed that he did not only bring former Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, back to Nigeria, he also brought back Minister of Trade and Investment, Dr. Olusegun Aganga and Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwumi Adeshina, at the request of President Goodluck Jonathan.

He expressed happiness that the trio are doing well in their respective offices as a result of leadership exposures that they had outside the country. He submitted that it has become imperative that Africa makes transition of leadership from one generation to the other an institution adding: “Leadership succession should be a relay race and not an obstacle race.”

“We found it appropriate to conclude that African polity needs leaders who will be committed to the value of service and service to community, humanity and God; committed to the value of honesty and integrity; and committed to the rule of law and to upholding fairness, equity, justice and fear of God,” he noted