Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has blamed the inability of Nigerians to elect good leaders as the bane of development and restiveness in the country.
Speaking as a keynote speaker at the National Daily Awards in Lagos on Friday, Obasanjo said the lack of peace, unity and stability was as result of people electing successive bad leaders in the country.
Obasanjo said successive ruling class in Nigeria has failed to utilize the diversities of the country to the advantage of the people. He insisted that Nigeria leaders in the past did well, than the current crop of leaders.
He said: “The right questions to ask were, what the past leaders of Africa did right, that we are doing wrong now, and what were the values and qualities then that are lacking now?”
The former president recalled that he had over a long period been involved in peace talk, initiating peace, development and stability, which were essential for growth and development. He noted that peace and stability must be pursued for justice, equity and fairness.
Obasanjo said Nigeria was often referred to as giant of Africa but wondered if Nigeria was really the giant of Africa. He said: “Have we lived up to giant in the sun? If we have not lived up to that, are there qualities that leaders have then that are absent in leadership now? What were there in those days that are not there today? “Talk of values.
Have the values changed? Peace, security and stability are prerequisite for advancement. In those days, these factors were present in our lives.” Speaking further, Obasanjo said the failure of Nigeria to choose the right leaders brought about the consequences of what the country is facing.
He pointed out that in the past, people made the right choice on who to rule them and there were good performances from those that were put in positions of authority. He pointedly declared that excellence can be attained only when a right leader was in charge.
Obasanjo, however, admitted that there is something unique about Nigerians, saying that they excelled individually. The former president commended the Inspector General of Police, Alkali Baba Ahmed, who was honoured as the newspaper’s Man of the Year on the award, saying that the police were rarely appreciated.
He said that the award was for him to improve more on what he was doing and prove to Nigerians that despite the gloomy situation in the country, there were spotlights of excellence that needed to be recognised and celebrated in the Nigerian police force.
Earlier in his speech, the chairman of the occasion, Chief Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, said the awardees were chosen to inspire other Nigerians. Adelusi-Adeluyi said those chosen for the award were people who had contributed to the growth of the nation.
He lamented that Nigeria was still in a precarious situation, saying that the country needed to get out of the situation she found herself as soon as possible by adopting the principles the leaders in the 60s adopted which were based on chances, choices and consequences.
Apart of the IGP, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, Governor Charles Soludo of Anambra State and Governor Udom Emmanuel, were among those honoured by the National Daily.