Nigerians Should Not Blame God For Country’s Failures, Says Ex-President Obasanjo


Former President Olusegun Obasanjo described Nigeria as a “giant in the sun” that had since underperformed by the world’s expectations, 62 years after gaining her independence from Britain.

Obasanjo stated further that Nigeria should not blame God for the country’s failures since it gained independence from Britain in 1960.

The Elder Statesman said this on Thursday at the launch of a book by the Editor-in-Chief of Premium Times, Musikilu Mojeed, titled “The Letterman: Inside the ‘Secret’ Letters of former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo” in Abuja.

Obasanjo said: “When Nigeria became independent, it was a giant in the sun. That was the expectation. Not a giant even in Africa. A giant in the sun. That was the expectation of the world about Nigeria.

“Have we lived up to it? No. If we haven’t, why haven’t we? I think we probably don’t appreciate what we have as a country and I believe if we do appreciate it and make good use of it, we would do better than we are now.

“I believe the right lessons must be learned. We have all that we need to have; God has given us all that we need to have. That we are not doing what we should do, God is not to blame and we should blame ourselves.”

As the first democratically elected president of the Fourth Republic, Obasanjo assumed office in 1999 and stepped down in 2007 after completing two terms.


Prior to this, he led the nation as a military head of state between 1976 and 1979, having succeeded Gen. Murtala Muhammed who was assassinated in a military coup.

His military administration oversaw the country’s transition to the Second Republic with the election of the late President Shehu Shagari, whom he handed over to in 1979.

Reviewing the book, Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Kukah, praised the former president for his outspokenness, which he described as a rarity for a soldier of his time.

“There is a streak in the letters. You will see his abiding passion and patriotic commitment to the principles and beliefs on the professionalism of the military, even at what I would call a middle-level role in his life as a soldier,” the Bishop said.

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“This is marked by a rare show of courage. And for me, this courage is a bit strange because as you will see, there is a stubborn streak in the quality of the letters and even the people that he addresses.

“And I’m saying to myself as I’m reading these letters, ‘Has the military changed? Was the military just some casual classroom in the ’60s?’ Because how could Obasanjo write all these kinds of things and get away with them?”

Former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, in his remarks, commended Obasanjo on his nationalist sentiments as reflected in his political appointments as well as his tough stance on the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC).

“President Obasanjo asked (former presidential aide) Akin Osuntokun and I, we had not joined government at this time. On one occasion, he said we should leave the Villa – leave his sitting room – because he would not hear any talk of OPC or any talk of secession or the rights of the South-West.

“He was very firm, and I’ve never forgotten that experience. That is the measure of his love for Nigeria, even though he had been through what he went through in the hands of the military administration that had locked him up and framed him up,” the former minister said.


Fani-Kayode served as Obasanjo’s Special Assistant on Public Affairs between July 2003 and June 2006. He was then appointed Minister of Culture and Tourism from June to November 2006, when he became Minister of Aviation until May 2007.

The former minister described his service under Obasanjo as an honour and privilege, adding that the cabinet of the former president particularly between 2003 and 2007 was the best the country had ever had.

“And let me tell you, Nigeria still hasn’t done justice to what you have done for this country over the years,” Fani-Kayode added.