Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has warned that the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East could take 15 more years to eliminate if the government fails to focus on education.
He also warned the country about the risks of a population explosion.
According to him, Nigeria’s population will be 450 million in the next 30 years.
Obasanjo gave the warnings while addressing some youths and students at a youth programme organised by the Youth Development Centre, an arm of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, in Abeokuta on Tuesday.
He urged the government to find a lasting solution to the big rise in the number of children out of school in some parts of the country, saying the development had contributed to the Boko Haram insurgency.
Obasanjo said, “There should be no Nigerian child that should be out of school for any reason.
“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 inclusivity, you will not get there. Quality is important, but inclusivity is much better.”
He urged Nigerian youths not to lose hope despite the challenges facing the country.
Obasanjo, who described himself as “an incurable optimist about Nigeria”, said although the situation in Nigeria was bad, he could see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Obasanjo recalled how he and the late Gen Murtala Muhammed turned around the country’s fortunes after the 1970 civil war.
He said, “Having run the affairs of Nigeria as a military Head of State when some people felt there was virtually no hope, we turned it around.”
Obasanjo added, “I have tremendous hope in Nigeria; I am an incurable optimist about Nigeria.
“During the Murtala Muhammed government and my government soldiers who were working in Lagos and who had to go to office in public transport did not wear their uniforms, they were ashamed. But within the space of six months, they were proudly wearing their uniforms. So, it can be done.
“Don’t lose hope. The current situation is bad. I don’t need to tell you that, but I can see the light beyond the tunnel. There is light beyond the tunnel.”