Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Thursday expressed concern over the growing number of out-of-school children in Nigeria.
Obasanjo, who addressed participants at the opening of the GOTNI leadership centre in Abuja, warned that Nigeria cannot make any meaningful economic progress until children have access to education.
This was the second time the ex-President had raised concern on the number of out-of-school children in the country.
At a forum held in Abeokuta in March, Obasanjo warned that the large army of out-of-school children poses a serious threat to the country’s security in the future.
The Head of the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), office in Kano, Rahama Farah, said on Wednesday at least 18.5 million children in Nigeria do not have access to quality education.
Obasanjo said: “When people come to me and say you are doing well, I say ‘no, that is not what I want because I am in a place to do well’.
“Don’t come and tell me that I am doing well. I want you to tell me what I need to do and to do better. That is what I want to hear and not for you to come and tell me I am doing well.
“The truth is that there is nobody that is born without some amount of innate leadership capacity and it is development that is needed. By the time we come to the GOTNI leadership centre, a bit of it is learnt.
“We should not forget that a lot starts from home, a lot in the school, a lot in the church and the mosque, a lot within the community itself. If we fail in all those areas, you won’t even get them to come here.
“This is one aspect of our life. The other aspect is what we do. I am worried because no matter what we do here, as long as we have the type of situation we have now of 15 million children that should be in school that are not in school, if all of us in school are graduates of GOTNI leadership centre, there will still be that gap of those who should be in school that are not educated.
“When you talk about the problem of an African country and particularly of Nigeria, they will say it is leadership — leadership deficit and leadership deficiency — and both can be taken care of in this GOTNI leadership centre.”
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