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Wednesday, 6 October 2021

 If the touth do not rise now, Nigeria is finished — Bozimo

Chief Alaowei Brodrick Bozimo is a lawyer and former Minister of Police Affairs, later Ministry of State for Interior, under former President Olusegun Obasanjo. The octogenarian believes the present and future of Nigeria lie in the hands of her intelligent youths who must defy all odds and salvage her from the parlous precipice. EBENEZER ADUROKIYA speaks with the elder statesman on occasion of Nigeria’s 61st independence anniversary.

PLEASE highlight the challenges, failures, success and gains identifiable in Nigeria at 61years?

When Nigeria gained her independence in 1960, I was just out of secondary school. From that time till now, we don’t need a soothsayer or a rocket scientist to tell that we should have done better. We haven’t done very well. It’s truly painful. I’m old now.

Nigeria has refused to be old. We’ve not made much progress. Let’s look at some basic landmarks. I remember in 2003 when I was Minister of Police Affairs under former President Olusegun Obasanjo, you remember we had challenges with our exchange rate and between me, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the rest of the team, we worked very hard to wipe out all the indebtedness of Nigeria to the Paris Club. Today, the refund from the liquidation of the Paris Fund is still being reaped. I think the last few weeks I read about 400 million dollars or so given to the experts or consultants who assisted in making it happen. Today, the kind of figures we mention in the press frighten me. Talk of hundreds of trillions of naira being borrowed.

How do we get out of these traps?

It’s a major problem to us as a country. Because I have sympathy for the PDP, I don’t want it to appear I’m running down the APC, but the figures and facts are there to see. We’ve not done well at all on the economic scene. True, there’s a flurry of activities such as bridges, roads, and others. One would have thought that as these are ongoing, the economy would boom. In spite of the infrastructure being built, the economy seems not to grow. We must not also forget, however, that there’s population explosion in the country. As young men in the cities, we could virtually count the number of people on the street of Warri. But today, it’s not so. We have all kinds of people in our streets now including Boko Haram, and it’s difficult to manage in a country with porous borders.

How does one manage the huge influxes into the country? Thirdly, our president has not helped matters whether with the Fulani and all that. He’s not as tough as we’d have expected him to be. When you look at what he does, it makes you uneasy that why would our father appear to be so personal, yet Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen, bandits and others are raping women, rustling cattle, kidnapping people, brandishing AK-47 around everywhere, even in Abuja. When we were in government, el-Rufai was the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) minister, the cows were kept away from the streets of Abuja – it was truly Federal Capital, run efficiently but you can’t say that of Abuja now. The last time I went, we were battling with cows strolling along major roads as far as the secretariat building. So, these are indices of lack of progress. Even Nigeria’s child of six years knows that things are not working well. It’s truly painful.

What’s the way out and way forward, sir?

First of all, I believe that our youths must come and rescue us. Our generation has failed, we’ve done our best, which is not good enough; our youths must come and rescue the country. I’m tired of saying the government should provide the enablement or industries to grow. I think that the youths should forget about the government. You see what these children are doing, like the internet system. There is a time the United States of America (USA) went through the same, with their prohibitions, but today they’ve become great. Our youths should eschew criminality because God has blessed the Nigerian youth with intelligence and drive to achieve greatness. They are children of older Nigerians. Can’t you see foreign countries coming to recruit medical doctors from Nigeria? This is because we’re so talented.

We see USA swearing-in Nigerians as judges. When I was Minister of Police, our policemen won laurels and accolades as number one across the world, but today no equipment to even fight crimes. I believe that our youths will rescue us. They have to take the bull by the horn to do that. They should find a way to be adventurous. If possible they should invite foreigners to come and invest in them.

Enough of government will provide this or that; we’d not do it. We’re a disgrace. Here’s a country God has do much blessed. The youths should organise themselves and wrest power from us the older people. I know they have tried it before through the Young People Party (YPP). Look at that former deputy governor of the Central Bank. But you can see Nigeria’s talents are wasted. This is not time for talk that’s why I’m saying Nigerian youths should take the bull by the horn. They should not wait for us or anybody. They should go and invent. They should be adventurous. They should get support from abroad. Otherwise we’ll go on and on like this hopelessly forever. THE TRIBUNE

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