Political elder statesman and former Nigerian leader has warned agitators nursing secessionist aspirations to think twice about their actions. According to the former president, Biafra and Oduduwa citizens won’t be valued like Nigerians.
He said this at the luncheon and investiture of Kehinde Isijola as the new chairman of the Nigerian Institution of Surveyors (NIS), Ogun State branch, on Wednesday in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
He criticized proposals for secession at a time when Africa is working to reintegrate its political, social, and economic systems.
Here is what Obasanjo had to say:
“If there is any Nigerian who does not feel worried about the country’s position, that person is a human being without being human,” Obasanjo stated.
“Any Nigerian who is human will be concerned, if not outraged, by the country’s current position. We’re concerned about the security situation, the economic situation, and our political position, and the drum we’re hearing is one of disintegration.
“I am a strong believer of one Nigeria, but not one Nigeria at any cost, but one Nigeria where every Nigerian can feel proud that he or she has a stake in this country.
“No Nigerian is born a slave in this country. No Nigerian is born to be oppressed in this country and those of us that have shed part of our blood and sweat for this country, we did that because we wanted a country where every Nigerian can claim as his or her own.
“I believe that if we talk among ourselves the way we should and if we change the narrative, I believe this is a great country. That we are not making Nigeria what God wants it to be is not the fault of God, but the fault of ourselves, particularly our leaders.
“One thing that gives us strength is our diversity. If all that we have is Republic of Oduduwa for those who said so, their position is understandable. If that is all we have, members of that country will be diminished compared to be a citizen of Nigeria. Citizens of Oduduwa Republic or any other republic from Nigeria will be diminished compared to citizens of Nigeria.
“In this age and time that we are talking about the reintegration of Africa for economic development, disintegration of any country will be almost idiotic. Even if we have Igboland as an independent country, Yorubaland an independent country and Fulani/Hausaland an independent country.
“And as a friend of mine in the military used to say then, what will become of the over 300 minorities – the Jukuns, the Gbasamas? Where will they belong? The only reason they can raise up their heads is because they belong to Nigeria. Are we thinking of them or are we are just being selfish? It doesn’t matter what we do, we will still be neighbours.
“We had seen it before, India was broken into India and Pakistan, they are still at war till today. Yugoslavia was broken into how many countries, they haven’t sorted it till today. Sudan was broken into Sudan and South Sudan, I don’t believe South Sudan is better for it and that is the truth.
“I believe it will cost us less to work for our unity, there are many things wrong, but those things are correctable if we make efforts to correct them and hold us together than what it will cost us to break up and be perpetually at war and all our money will be spent in building an army. I know what an army contains, I know what it means to keep an army, an army that may not be productive, let us think about it.”