Former President Olusegun Obasanjo dissected yesterday the poor leadership problem confronting Africa and lampooned the younger generation of leaders as a failure.
Obasanjo, who gave a keynote address at the summit on leadership failure in Africa, posited that his generation led the way with purposeful, progressive, visionary leadership marked by accountability and probity. He stressed that younger generation of leaders, however, failed to continue with the good legacy that his generation left.
The former president spoke at the 4th Annual Ibadan Sustainable Development Summit organised by the Centre for Sustainable Development (CESDEV), University of Ibadan(UI), in collaboration with African Sustainable Development Network (ASUDNET).
Commenting on poor leadership in Africa, Obasanjo noted that the crop of younger generation of leaders failed the citizens.
The former president also lumpooned former Vice President Atiku Abubakar with the “failed generation of leaders”, saying it was the reason he did not hand over to him.
He specifically labelled Atiku as a betrayer while making reference to others who failed to live up to expectation when he invited them to serve.
Obasanjo listed the failed leaders to include former House of Representatives Speaker Salisu Buhari; former Bayelsa State Governor, Deprieye Alamieseigha; former Edo State Governor Lucky Igbinedion, former Delta State Governor James Ibori; and and his counterpart in Abia State during the last dispensation, Orji Uzor Kalu.
Though he listed former Lagos State Governor Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to the list, Obasanjo quickly paused and avoided further comments on him. Tinubu is one of the national leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Referring to his administration as president in his answer to a question. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief said: “We had some people who were under 50 years in leadership positions. One of them was James Ibori; where is he today? One of them was Alamieseigha; where is he today? Lucky Igbinedion; where is he today?
“The youngest was the Speaker, Buhari. You can still recall what happened to him.” Obasanjo claimed that the allegation against Tinubu were not properly investigated, adding that a former governor of Oyo State bungled the investigation.
The former president went on: “I wanted someone who would succeed me so I took Atiku. Within a year, I started seeing the type of man Atiku is. And you want me to get him there? Atiku’s media office in a statement by Mallam Garba Shehu said: ”Yes, President Obasanjo is right. He didn’t know Atiku well. It was later he got to know him as a fighter for democracy and defender of the constitution.”
“I once went to Tanzania because Julius Nyere recognised Biafra. He told me not to mind his aides and others in government. They would say they have one house in town but their five-year old sons and daughters would have houses all over.
“Some of you who are condemning the leadership would get there tomorrow and it will be a different story. Only very few are actually good.
“Abacha, my predecessor, got $750m. Through our lawyer in Switzerland, we recovered $1.25bn and the lawyer still said there is probably still another $1bn to be recovered. In 1979, we had 20 new ships specially built for Nigeria. When I came back 20 years after, the National Shipping line had liquidated.
“The whole thing is not just about leadership. If we talk about good leadership, you should also talk about good followers. If you talk about human rights you should also talk about human duties and obligations.
“It is sad that after 53 years of independence we have no leader that we can commend. Then we are jinxed and cursed; we should all go to hell. The problem in Africa is that when one person takes over he would not see any good thing that his predecessor did. Let us condemn but with caution.”
On “Leadership in Africa’s Quest for Sustainable Development”, the former president said the topic came when humanity is in search of innovative ways of managing globally shared challenges.
He listed some of the problems confronting the country as insecurity and unemployment, stressing that good leadership can stop them all.
Obasanjo said: “The Nigerian state is currently beset with myriad of security, economic, environmental and social challenges. The issue of security is the most pervasive, not only in terms of Boko Haram but also in terms of armed robbery, kidnapping, corruption, drug and human trafficking. We can only ignore this at our own collective peril. Peace and security require effective and proactive leadership and people’s support. Without adequate mechanism to restore peace, the country risks losing more lives and property and in particular, the goal of sustainable development will be out of reach.
“Youths unemployment threatens to further worsen the problem of crime if adequate care is not taken. The vulnerability we are all exposed to because of having millions of unemployed people can only worsen when the problem is treated with neglect. The lack of job opportunities for able and capable citizens will only make them lose hope in the system and thereby become frustrated, and make them desperate and fall into despair, bringing up many problem for the system as a whole.”
In his brief contribution, the Vice-Chancellor, UI, Prof. Isaac Adewole, said lamented the failure of only 36 governors to conduct a credible election within the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), saying it is a manifestation of the leadership malaise in the country.
“We have not raised question about the scenario where 35 people found it difficult to conduct a credible election in this country. I then have concern about how 2015 election would be,” Adewole said.
A discussant, Prof. Mojeed Alabi, said: “The task of leadership in Africa has been quite challenging. Africans have been so unfortunate. The question is whether our leaders wanted development or power.”
Another discussant from the Institute of Sustainability and Peace, United Nations University, Tokyo, Dr. Obijiofor Aginam, said: “Unemployment is a bomb that has exploded and manifested itself in hunger, violent attacks, crimes and killings.”
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