Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
As controversy still trails the 2023 general election, the former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has described the exercise as “a painful show of shame.”
The former Head of State who expressed disappointment over the polls, said efforts should be made by patriotic Nigerians to correct the errors of the elections, and avoid its repeat in the future.
Obasanjo spoke in Abuja as a guest of honour at a public lecture series tagged, “From Elections to Governance and Performance.”
The former President who said he was “too old to keep quiet and watch the country launch into a dystopia,” noted that “efforts are required from well-meaning and committed patriots to rescue the nation from the precipice.”
According to him, Nigeria is currently more divided and corroded than what its founding fathers had in mind.
He advocated a national reconciliation, which would assuage the feelings of aggrieved Nigerians, particularly the youth population.
Obasanjo frowned at Nigeria’s growing debt profile as well as the spending quest of those in power.”
He called for a new way of governance in tandem with global best practices to avoid plunging Nigeria into economic stagnation.
The former President called for quick diversification of Nigeria’s economy and less dependence on oil to avoid total collapse of the economy.
He suggested the way forward for the country but noted that the political leadership must be courageous to do the needful.
“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 skills for the aggrieved and will lead us across Nigeria and to assuage the youth.
“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 Nigeria’s neo-cultural economy.
“We cannot be spending like a drunken sailor on frivolities and corruption and expect development and growth. Such a situation cannot take us into the fourth industrial revolution already underway.
“My experience and understanding, however, is that the money to develop and grow our economy is out there if we provide a conducive environment for it to come and stay.
“Three, political will, political action and administrative efforts must be invested in 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 that the elections of 2023 degenerated into.
“Let me conclude by stating clearly that I am now too old to keep quiet and watch Nigeria’s 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 a 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.”