Erstwhile president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, on Thursday urged Nigerians to treat the country with care, declaring that Nigeria’s fundamental problem lies in not having a national leader.
Speaking at an event to examine the country’s development 50 years after the Nigerian-Biafran civil war in Abuja, he called for those agitating for a sovereign state of Biafra to be engaged in a dialogue.
His words, “We never had a national leader. Our leaders at the beginning were mindful of their regions. That is our problem till today.
”I have maintained that the young officers who struck in 1966 were naive but there were some element of nationalism in some of them. Be that as it may, it set us back.”
Obasanjo, who noted that the Nigerian civil war showed the bad side of the country, said some of those agitating for Biafra today, lack an understanding of what it entails.
According to him, “Some of the people agitating for Biafra today were not even born then. They don’t know what it entails.
”But I think, we should even appeal to those saying they want to go, we should not tell them to go, we should make them understand that there is enough cake to share. We should massage Nigeria just like in a love relationship.”
He continued that “the language used in the war did not help matters, the people on the Biafra side called us vandals and we called them rebels.
“We thought we would end the war in three months, but it took us 30 months, and the federal side nearly lost it.
”Civil war is more difficult than fighting in a foreign land because we are fighting to unite.
”Even a soldier of mine who tried to rape a woman… I had to chase him with a gun. He did not succeed in raping the woman, and I did not have to gun him down.”
Also speaking at the event, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo asked Nigerians to learn from the history of the civil war rather than beating the drums of a second war in the country.
In a keynote address entitled, ‘Greater Together than Apart’, he said the wise learn from history, while experience remains the best teacher for a fool.
The Acting President was categorical that while it is kinder to learn from history, experience is a harsh teacher.
Stressing that there was nothing wrong in discussing the country’s existence, he urged Nigerians to use the country’s diversity to make her great “instead of trying to flee into the lazy comfort of homogeneity”.