By Bukola Olasanmi
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Tuesday advised the youth not to lose hope because of the “bad situation” of the country, assuring that there would definitely be light at the end of the dark tunnel.
Obasanjo said he would continue to remain optimistic about Nigeria and her future, recalling that when everybody appeared to have concluded that there was no more hope for pre – 1999 Nigeria, he cameout of the prison to rekindle hope and turned things around.
The elder statesman who gave the advice while addressing a cross section of youths in Ogun state during a day symposium on “Youth Governance and Dialogue,” at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library(OOPL), Abeokuta, the state capital, added that same feat was achieved when he was military Head of States.
“Haven run or taken care of a very substantial number of soldiers in the war front, the soldiers from a division have lost hope, in the sense that, they have lost the fighting spirit and within a space of six months, that division was saved and that division ended the Nigerian civil war.
“Haven run the affairs of Nigeria as a military head of state when some people felt there was virtually no hope about Nigeria and we turned it around.
“And haven taken care of Nigeria when I came out of the Prison when some people told me that I will be the last President of Nigeria, because after me there will be no Nigeria again because the situation was so bad. I have come to have tremendous hope in Nigeria and I optimistic.
“So, I am an incurable optimist about Nigeria. During the government of Muritala Mohammed and I, Nigerian soldiers who were working in Lagos and who had to go to office in public transport, don’t wear their uniform . They did not wear their uniform they were ashamed but within the space of six months, they were proudly wearing their uniform. So, it can be done.
“Don’t lose hope, the situation is bad. The current situation is bad, I don’t need to tell you that, I can see the light beyond the tunnel. There is light beyond the tunnel,” Obasanjo said.
The ex – President said Nigerians should be bothered by the country’s burgeoning population, wondering if those who should be thinking about the short, medium and long term implications of increasing population are really doing anything about it.
He admitted that large population is an asset but raised the alarm that a country like Nigeria that is likely to hit 400million or more in the next 30years, it could turn out to be a “calamity” if not properly handled.
He also warned that if a state of emergency was not declared in education to address the scourge of out – of – school – children, it means Nigeria has gotten Boko haram that would endure for the next 15 years.
Obasanjo said: “The other problem you did not mention, is demography. We are now 200 million population and in about 30 years to come we will be about 400 million. Some say we will be 415 million, some say we will be 450 million, whichever one, we will be the third largest country in the world after China and India, that would present great challenges, how are we going to handle it?
“It can be an asset if we handle it well, but if we continue with business as usual as we are doing now, it will be a great calamity, it will be a great disaster, we have to think about it. And those who will produce the 450 million people, there are already here, they have been born, so, you cannot stop them from being born .
“Those who will produce 750 million in the year 22,000 they are the one we can do something about. And again, it is important , People are already thinking, who is doing the short – medium – long- term thinking plan? None.
“There should be no Nigerian child that should be out of the school for any reason. How are we talking about state of emergency on Education, how are we talking about popular education? You have already got your Boko Haram in the next 15 years if you don’t do anything about that.
“So, whatever you are talking about, unless you take care of inclusiveness, you will not get there. Quality is important, but inclusiveness is much more better, education for all.”