Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo has taken a swipe at the groups of people agitating for self-determination of their respective regions.
Obasanjo, who was speaking at a retreat on inclusive security organised by the Global Peace Foundation in collaboration with Vision Africa, on Wednesday, said he believes in one Nigeria well above any ethnic affiliation.
“I always say this, each and every one of us has solutions to Nigeria’s problems but each and every one of us is wrong when you bring your own and you think it is perfect; now listen to the other man. But one thing I believe we all have in common — Nigeria.
“I have never used Yoruba nation and I will never because I believe that my Nigerianess is bigger than my Yorubaness and none should stand in the way of each other.
“For me, my Nigerianess is very important because I am more than what I should have been as a Nigerian than as an Oduduwa Republic man and I believe that, that should be the case for every one of us. Why should the accident of my place of birth be a hindrance for me as a human being, first of all, and as a Nigerian?
“If I have been born in Sokoto, the chances are probably 99:1 that I will be a Muslim. If the Sultan was born in Abeokuta, the chances are 55:45 that he will be a Christian. What has brought a change is where I was born, by whom I was born and maybe when I was born so why should that be a deciding factor for me as a human being. So when we look at ourselves, only in the context of where we were born, when and how we were born, I believe we’re making a mistake.
“I owe no apology to anybody that I feel that what God has given to us in Nigeria belongs to all of us in Nigeria and anyone who feels otherwise, good luck to him.
“The point is that we must aggregate, if you were born in a place and there is a particular treasure in that place, you must enjoy more of it than others in other parts of Nigeria. And that, I believe, whether it is stone with which the Nigerian railway and Lagos board were built, which came from Abeokuta which nobody paid anything for in the colonial days, or the coal in Enugu which some of it was used to drive the locomotive and whatever, the point is it is all a gift of God to all Nigerians, humanity, and the gift of God, I believe we must understand them and know how we really manage them.”
Unafraid to comment on national issues, Obasanjo recently set tongues wagging when he said expecting more from President Muhammadu Buhari as the country grapples with security challenges was akin to flogging a dead horse.
The former head of state has always drawn praise for his patriotism, even if he sometimes rubs the wrong way.