Published On: Wed, Aug 14th, 2013

Younger leaders have failed, says Obasanjo

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FORMER President Olusegun Obasanjo on Tuesday assessed the younger generation of leaders in the country. His verdict: They have failed the citizenry.

Obasanjo spoke at the fourth Ibadan Sustainable Development Summit organised by the Centre for Sustainable Development, University of Ibadan (UI), in collaboration with the African Sustainable Development Network.

According to Obasanjo, the performance of the current younger generation of leaders has not been impressive, particularly in terms of integrity.

He specifically named his erstwhile deputy, Atiku Abubakar; former Governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu; ex-Speaker, House of Representatives, Alhaji Salisu Buhari; former Bayelsa State governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha and others as examples of younger generation of leaders who failed the country.

“During my administration as president, 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 Alamieyeseigha, where is he today? Lucky Igbinedion, where is he today? The youngest was the Speaker, Buhari, you can still recall what happened to him. You said Bola Tinubu is your master. What Buhari did was not anything worse than what Bola Tinubu did.

“We got them impeached. But in this part of the world, some people covered up the other man. The man claimed he went to Government College, Ibadan, but the governor went to Government College and packed all the documents so that they would not know that he did not go there.

“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?

“I once went to Tanzania because Julius Nyerere 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.

“From Abacha, my predecessor, we got $750 million. Through our lawyer in Switzerland, we recovered another $1.25 billion and the lawyer still said there was probably still another $1 billion 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.”

He lamented that despite the nation’s 53 years of independence, Nigeria has no leader that the citizens could commend.

“By implication, 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,” he said.

In his remarks, the Vice Chancellor, UI, Prof. Isaac Adewole, said the situation in the already factionalised Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) where 35 people found it hard to elect a leader called for concern on how the 2015 elections would be.

Discussants from the Institute of Sustainability and Peace, the United Nations University, Tokyo, Dr. Obijiofor Aginam and Prof. Mojeed Alabi, both lamented that the task of leadership in Africa had been very challenging. They added that Africans had been so unfortunate in terms of leadership.

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