Former President Olusegun Obasanjo says he does not believe in one Nigeria at any cost, even though he wants the country to remain united and peaceful.
Mr Obasanjo stated this in Abeokuta at his investiture as a fellow of the Nigerian Institution of Surveyor on Wednesday.
He stated, “It is better that Nigeria stays together and find solutions to its challenges than for each tribe to go its separate way.
“I am a strong believer of one Nigeria, but not one Nigeria at any cost. But one Nigeria where every Nigerian can feel proud that he or she has a stake in this country.”
The elder statesman called on secessionist agitators to work for the oneness of the country.
According to him, Nigeria should remain as one indivisible nation. The former president, who acknowledged that Nigeria is passing through challenges, insisted that “disintegration is not the solution.”
He noted, “Those of us who have shed part of our blood and sweat for this country, we did so because we wanted a country where every Nigerian can claim as his or her own.
“I believe that if we talk among ourselves the way we should and if we change the narrative, I believe this is a great country.
“The fact that we are not making Nigeria what God wants it to be is not the fault of God, but our fault, particularly the leaders.”
Mr Obasanjo, who noted that Nigeria’s diversity remained a major source of its strength, explained that disintegration would result in “weak republics.”
“One thing that gives us strength is our diversity. If all that we have is Republic of Oduduwa for those who say so, members of that country will be diminished compared to being a citizen of Nigeria.
“Citizens of Oduduwa Republic or any other republic borne out of Nigeria will be diminished compared to being citizens of Nigeria.
“In this age and time that we are talking about the reintegration of Africa for economic development, disintegration of any country will be almost idiotic,” he explained.
The former president wondered what would become of the over 300 minorities in Nigeria if the three major tribes went their separate ways.
“If we have Igboland as an independent country, Yorubaland, an independent country and Fulani/Hausaland an independent country.
“Where will the Jukuns or the Gbasama belong? The only reason they can raise up their heads is because they belong to Nigeria.
“Are we thinking of them or are we are just being selfish? We should note that It doesn’t matter what we do. We will still be neighbours.
“We had seen it before, India was broken into India and Pakistan, they are still at war till today. Yugoslavia was broken into different countries. They haven’t sorted it till today.
“Sudan was broken into Sudan and South Sudan, I don’t believe South Sudan is better for it and that is the truth,” he said.
The elder statesman who described Nigeria’s challenges as correctable and surmountable, counselled that it would cost less for Nigerians to work together for the unity of the country than to break up and be perpetually in a war against each other.
“When that happens, we will be spending our money on building armies. I know what is involved in building and maintaining an army which may not necessarily be productive. Let us think about it,” he said.