Only Obasanjo Comes Close To A Nationalists In Nigeria – Amaechi

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Former minister of transportation Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi yesterday declared that former President Olusegun Obasanjo is the only Nigerian leader who can be referred to as a nationalist in the country.
The former Rivers State governor, who was guest speaker at TheNiche Annual lecture, themed “Why We Stride and Slip: Leadership, Nationalism and the Nigerian Condition,” said other leaders represented ethnic interests.
The event was held at the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) in Lagos.
The former governor, who spoke on Nigeria’s quest for nationhood before and after independence, noted that Nigeria has not had a national leader since independence.
Amaechi lamented that the country, in spite of its diverse ethnic groups, has not produced national leaders like Mahatma Ghandi of India and Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore.
The former minister however said Obasanjo, whom he disagreed with on national politics, is “the closest to him to a national leader.”
He added “We are our own problems in this country. Nigerians decide to believe what they want to believe and who they want to believe and not to believe. Our case seems hopeless. I have seen it all as somebody that was in student unionism at University of Port Harcourt. With all humility, I left the university in 1987 and have never worked anywhere outside politics.
“I became a speaker at 34, I became a governor at 42, I became a minister at 50. The elites will only bring up issues that they want to be tackled. Look at the issue of resource control that my South South people advocated for. But when we got there, and had a president from the region, did we achieve the resource control agenda?” he said.
Amaechi, who also reflected on the regime of the immediate-past President Muhammadu Buhari, in which he served as minister, said he would only speak on the ministry of transportation where he functioned.
Although he said he will not assess the Buhari administration, the former minister added that the former president believed his government should be about infrastructure and making living conditions better for the people.
Justifying the rail construction contracts that he supervised, the former minister noted that, as a devout Roman Catholic, he acted in the best interest of the country.
“Many have asked me to talk on issues but my publicist forbade me to speak as Nigerians know all what transpired and truth is sacred. Ex-President Buhari was a man that believed in making lives better and we invested in Nigeria’s infrastructure development finishing a lot of roads and projects the previous governments before us started,” Amaechi said.
Amaechi also spoke about his rift with the former managing director of Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Usman.
He said she made attempts to halt the Lekki Deep Sea contracts which he supervised, and got Chinese technical partners to build and transfer according to the guidelines.
Amaechi, who displayed some documents to the audience, said he would have used the occasion to state his own side of the issue but for the persuasion of the elders at the high table.
He however said he would detail his political experiences and proffer solutions to Nigeria’s problems in his book.
The chairman of the occasion, Dr Uma Eleazu in his speech, urged the next generation of Nigerians to commit to speaking the truth always and work for the unity of the country.
Eleazu said the country began to experience poor governance from 1984, adding that corruption played a major role in halting the nation’s progress.
Eleazu advocated a new mindset among the people and leaders to steer the ship of this country aright.
“How did Nigeria descend so low? Corruption has reached high heavens and the angels are weeping. In solving the problems of this nation, we must encourage the younger generation to speak the truth and know our history, where we are coming from and where we are going?”
A panelist during the discussion session, Funke Durodola Treasure, said bad followership contributed to the problems in the polity, noting that “Today’s Leaders are yesterday’s followers.”
While Prof Anthony Kila canvassed re-orientation among Nigerians, renowned columnist Dr Chidi Amuta, who reflected on the positives from the last presidential election, said ethnicity was a thing that can be dealt with.
Amuta, while noting that elder statesmen like Chief Obasanjo and Pa Ayo Adebanjo supported a candidate (Peter Obi) from another ethnic group, said they cited merit as the reason for rooting for the Labour Party presidential candidate.
The convener of the annual lecture, Ikechukwu Amaechi commended the guests and audience for gracing the event and inducted the former minister of Transportation into The Niche Hall of Fame.
Other dignitaries at the event include the president, Guild of Editors, Eze Anaba; representative of Enugu State Governor of Enugu State, Mr Peter Mbah, Dr (Mrs) Maureen Onyia; Prof Anya O. Anya; High Chief Tola Adeniyi; chairman and publisher of Guardian Newspapers, Maiden Ibru; Ted Iwere; Yakubu Mohammed; Valentine Ezeigbo; secretary general of Eze Ndigbo, Chief Kalu Onuma; Charles Anyiam Osigwe; students of Nigeria Institute of Journalism (NIJ), and others.



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