President Olusegun Obasanjo has raised an alarm about economic gains the country recorded in the first decade of the century, being reversed by the government in power in the last decade.
Speaking at the 50th anniversary of Federal Government College, Kaduna, Obasanjo stated that the economic situation in the country has increased hardship, insecurity, and affected the quality of leadership.
The former President who noted that appointments in government are now skewed and lopsided on basis of nepotism and mediocrity and disregard of merit and competence, added that the country has been deliberately divided along religious, ethnic and other fault lines.
“Once again, our nation is dancing on the precipice and some of us are truly worried about the state of affairs today. I expressed that worry in my open letter to Nigerians and Nigerian youths on New Year’s Day,” he said.
“As I stated in the letter; ‘If we fall prey again, we will have ourselves to blame and no one can say how many more knocks Nigeria can take before it tips over. To be forewarned is to be fore-armed.’ Of course, I pray that Nigeria will never tip over. We must constantly work at it and pray.
“My worry is premised on a number of issues. First, I am concerned that the current state of our nation’s economy has widened the gulf of inequality and left many people in despair. Inflation is on the rise; poverty and hardship have returned to many households. The last decade has reversed many of the economic gains that were made in the first decade of the century. There is a general sense of hopelessness across the nation with seemingly uncontrollable insecurity.
“In addition to the economic hardship is political mischief. Never have we been so politically divided along religious, ethnic and other fault lines and deliberately so. Appointments in government are skewed and lopsided on basis of nepotism and mediocrity and disregard of merit and competence.
“Elections are here and may compound the problem. Political parties and politicians have now been emboldened to discard some of the things that were put in place to give all groups a sense of belonging. Exclusion is being taken as normal. Disunity stares us in the face and many of our leaders are more concerned about their selfish interests than the survival and health of our nation.”
Obasanjo also warned that the coming presidential election is not one to be trifled with.
According to him, the concerns raised about the presidential candidates are real and Nigerians would have themselves to blame if they do nothing about the situation.
“Let me reiterate that the concerns being raised about the nature of the options before us in the presidential elections for instance are real and should not be trifled with,” the statement reads.
“Nigeria belongs to us all and no part of the country should be left in doubt about their place in this union on any basis whatsoever; ethnic, religious, language, region, culture or social standing.
“The beauty of democracy is that the options before us cannot be imposed on us if we all do what we need to do to send a message to those who have had the audacity to present those options to us with little or no interest for the 225 million Nigerians.
“If we choose to do nothing, we will only have ourselves to blame. If we choose to do the right thing, we will by so doing return this country on the right track; one which gives all our people a sense of belonging and a sense of unity of purpose and a stake in the project Nigeria; a project that will give all of us peace, security, stability, shared prosperity, hope and progress and a place within the comity of nations.”