Obasanjo stated this on Wednesday when he received the Tiv Professional Group (TPG) from Benue State, who paid him a courtesy visit in Abeokuta.
He recalled a discussion between him and “a military friend” who, according to him, has described major tribes in the country as selfish and not sufficiently caring for the minority groups.
The former president, who aligned with his friend’s opinion, expressed worry over what would become of the minority groups if the major tribes decided to secede and begin to operate as separate countries.
“If the Yoruba can stand as a country, if the Igbos and the Hausa/Fulani can stand as separate countries, where do we want the minority groups to be?
“Now, by virtue of the present situation, they are a little bit protected, but if Nigeria breaks up, they will be oppressed and exterminated,” he said.
He recalled the meetings he had with a number of socio-cultural organisations in September 2020 and noted that nobody at such meeting talked about disintegration or breakup, saying that “all they clamoured for was a change for good” .
The elder statesman stressed the need for Nigerian leaders to be mindful of the ethnic diversity of the Nigerian nation, adding that the country would not make any meaningful progress without such consideration.
Obasanjo, who expressed hope that the rough times that Nigeria was going through would not last forever, urged Nigerians to be patient while the country gathered her goodwill and moved in the right direction.
This comes a few days after the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu declared that it is unacceptable for Nigeria to break up because he has nowhere to go.