War is Gruesome, Deadly and Destructive, Obasanjo Warns

  •  Says those beating the drums of war don’t know the meaning 
  • Britain opposed to Nigeria’s break up, says High Commissioner 
  • Okiro chides elites for fanning disunity

By Sylvester Idowu in Warri and Hammed Shittu in Ilorin

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday lambasted those advocating for the dismemberment of the country as a solution to the myriads of problems confronting the nation, warning that he would never participate in another war.

Also yesterday, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright stated that his country was opposed to secession agitations in some parts of the country, contrary to claims that some powerful nations like the United States and the UK were backing the agitations.

Speaking when he paid a visit along with his host, Dr. Leemon Ikpea, Chairman of Lee Enginering and Construction Limited to Olu of Warri, His Majesty, Ogiame Ikemwoli, Obasanjo said those beating the drums of war don’t know what it means.

 He maintained that the solution to the problems facing the country could be resolved through dialogue, discussion, negotiations “but definitely not through dismemberment.”

Obasanjo said: “I participated in the civil war and I will never participate in any civil war again in my life. It was gruesome. It was destructive. It was deadly. So those people who are clamouring for whatever they are clamouring for don’t know what war means.

“There is a saying in Yorubaland that whoever has seen ‘Sango’ being angry, heightened with thunder and lightning, will never want to incur the wrath of Sango again. He whoever has seen the devastation of war, destruction of war, the mindlessness of war will never want to see another war again and may we never see another war again.”

The former President agreed that the nation was facing serious challenges but maintained that they could be surmounted through dialogue, discussions and negotiations.

Obasanjo said: “I believe the answer to most of our problems is mindset change and change of mentality. If we need any restructuring at all, it is the restructuring of our mindset and the restructuring of our mentality. We have many problems no doubt, but we can talk about them, we must talk about them and find solutions to them.

“The diversity of the country is what makes the nation. It is the diversity that makes us what we are. The greatness of Nigeria is in our diversity and our different languages.

“What I think we need to make is greater progress than we have made before and we can do that. If we do that and add good governance, no impunity, there is justice, there is equity, then, everybody will have a sense of belonging in Nigeria. 

“I always say that there is nothing wrong with Nigeria. All we need to do is to correct the wrongs with Nigeria. We have to speak up and say this is not good enough and offer something than what is not good enough. Definitely, dismemberment of Nigeria is not good enough.”

Obasanjo said instead of dismemberment, Nigerians should promote peace, harmony and love of one another as substitute for dismemberment.

In his speech, the Olu of Warri lamented that in spite of the tremendous contributions of the Itsekiris to Nigeria, the ethnic group had been relegated in things in Nigeria.

Earlier, the Chairman of Lee Engineering and Construction Limited, Dr. Leemon Ilpea had while taking the former President on a facility tour of his company, said it was established when Obasanjo as Military Head of State promoted indigenisation as a policy.

He said it was that policy that made the company grow its operations in the oil and gas sector, by manufacturing many engineering projects for the sector, thereby saving the nation money that could have been repatriated. 

Britain Opposed to Nigeria’s Break Up

In a related development, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright yesterday stated that his country was opposed to secession agitations in some parts of the country, contrary to claims that some powerful nations like the United States and the UK were backing their agitation. 

Arkwright stated this in Ilorin, Kwara State after he met with the Speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly, Ali Ahmad. 

“We don’t have anything to do with anyone agitating for break-up of Nigeria. We’re strongly in support of the unity of Nigeria and federal government of Nigeria. And that’s what British government has consistently supported. We don’t have interest or in support of any one agitating for break-up of Nigeria. For anyone to say British government is involved in any way in break-up of Nigeria is completely wrong,” he said. 

The British High Commissioner, who described Nigeria democratic situation as delicate, commended both the state government and the state House of Assembly on their efforts at upholding democratic tenets, and keeping the flame of democracy alive. 

He said the British government was interested in getting more Nigerian women engaged in politics, adding that he was happy with efforts of the state government and the House of Assembly in women’s participation in politics, especially with women lawmakers holding leadership position in the House. 

The Speaker described the visit as symbolic, saying that it was an attestation that the British government was in support of Nigeria democracy. 

“This has also deepened democracy in Nigeria and it sent a message that legislature is central to democracy. Unfortunately, many state Houses of Assembly in Nigeria are not functioning as expected. But we here at the House of Assembly have had cause to amicably differ with the executives despite the fact that we’re in same party”, the Speaker said.

Okiro Blasts Elites for Fanning Disunity

Former Inspector-General of Police (IGP), and now, Chairman, Police Service Commission (PSC), Mike Okiro has blamed Nigeria elites for “fanning embers of ethnic and religious disharmony to achieve their group or personal interests at the expense of our national ethos.”

The former IGP spoke on Thursday while launching his book titled, “Nigeria: The Restructuring Controversy” at the International Conference Center Abuja.

However, the PSC Chairman has the conviction that Nigeria “will emerge an unstoppable giant on the path of peace, rapid development and progress, and not by dissolving into mushroom republics or along ethno-religious lines.”