State of the nation: We’ve disappointed ourselves, Africa and the world – Obasanjo


  • Says ‘Nigeria sitting dangerously on keg of gunpowder’

  • ‘Most Nigerian leaders are empty as far as development issues are concerned’
  • Uba Group

  • Aganga, one of the best brains country has produced – Former President


Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, on Monday, critically assessed Nigeria’s journey since independence and concluded that the nation had disappointed Africa, the black race and the world.

Obasanjo also declared that Nigeria was sitting perilously on a keg of gunpowder, adding that leaders were pushing more citizens into poverty, owing to “good policies poorly and thoughtlessly implemented, bad policy or no policy at all.”

The former Nigerian President spoke virtually in a keynote address delivered at the public presentation of the book, “Reclaiming the Jewel of Africa,” written by Olusegun Aganga, former Nigerian Minister of Finance and pioneer Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment.

The book was unveiled by President Bola Tinubu, who was represented at the event by his Special Adviser on Monetary Policy, Olawale Edun.

Former President Goodluck Jonathan delivered the welcome address, virtually, at the event, which was well attended by past and present top government officials and diplomats, among others.

Obasanjo said Aganga, who he nominated for public service, was one of the best Nigeria had produced, but disagreed with the title of his book, saying it was not possible to reclaim what was never attained.

“Nigeria is a potential jewel of Africa, if you want to put it that way, we have never attained that position. Can you reclaim what you have never had or attained?” he asked.

The former President stated, “Over the last 63 years, we have not lived up to expectations. We have disappointed ourselves, we have disappointed Africa, we have disappointed the black race, and we have disappointed the world.

“What Segun (Aganga) has tried to identify, itemise and recommend in his book is the way forward. But the beginning of charting a new course for ourselves is to admit our failure because we have not always put the round peg in the round hole.”

Obasanjo lambasted Nigerian leaders, noting that many of them were empty as far as issues of development were concerned.

He stated, “If you ask most of our leaders why they want to be in the position they are craving for, you will weep for our nation over their level of emptiness as far as development issues are concerned.

“What do they understand for peace, security, stability, predictability, development, growth and progress to be actualised? I believe that peace, security, democracy and prosperity must be taken together.

“Any leader that fails to understand any of these and fails to bring them together to deliver good governance for the welfare and well-being of the people, all the people, cannot contribute anything significant.”

He added that consistency and continuity of policies were complementary to the issue of leadership, explaining that “with leadership issue resolved, in terms of character, attributes, value, virtue, orientation, performance and love of humanity with love and fear of God, all other things will be given, in terms of achievement and Nigeria will become a Giant in the Sun.”


“We are carried along by ego and emotion of self, selfishness and self-centredness, ethnic and religious jingoism with total lack of understanding of the world we live in and a gross misunderstanding of what development entails and how to move fast and continuously on the trajectory of development,” he noted.

The former President  said skill acquisition, empowerment and employment of youth seemed to be ignored or not appreciated enough.

“We do not need to look far for the remote causes of banditry, Boko Haram, kidnapping and other organised crimes.

“We are living dangerously on a keg of gunpowder, driving more people into poverty through good policies poorly and thoughtlessly implemented, bad policy or no policy at all,” he stated.

On his part, Jonathan noted that Aganga, during his time as trade and investment minister, opened Nigeria up as the preferred destination for investments, saying, “As my minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Aganga, at a point, turned me into a marketing manager by travelling with me to at least 40 countries in search of foreign investments.

“I am glad that the venture and travels, which he captured in one of the chapters in the book paid off as our nation then became Africa’s first destination for foreign direct investment and one of the fastest-growing economies at that time.”

Nigeria’s President, Tinubu, commended the former minister and noted that his government would promote meritocracy as advised by him in his book.