LAGOS, NIGERIA - Former Nigerian rulers have banded together to sing a hymn for peace in their troubled nation, with some acknowledging they had a role in creating the "mess." Their video wish for 2017 is getting scornful comments from many on social media.
The former leaders, many white-haired and in their 80s, sing "Oh God Our Help In Ages Past" in sometimes shaky tenor and bass. They include former military rulers Olusegun Obasanjo and Yakubu Gowon, former interim leader Ernest Shonekan and current Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
One Twitter user calls the VIP choir a "rogues' gallery," while others accuse them of being responsible for the woes of a resource-rich country impoverished by endemic corruption.
In comments made after singing the hymn, some of the former leaders acknowledge responsibility. "In spite of the mess we made of the country, he (God) manages always to rescue us," said Alex Ekwueme, vice president from 1979 until the first of many military coups in 1983.
Ebitu Ukiwe, vice president under a dictatorship in 1984-1985, said: "I am grateful to almighty God for accepting us despite the mess we have made of ourselves and the country."
Africa's largest economy and the continent's second-biggest oil producer is currently in a recession caused by a looted treasury, low oil prices and massive shortages of foreign currency.
Nigeria also is beset by deadly violence including Boko Haram's Islamic uprising in the northeast, attacks by oil militants in the south, demands by separatists for an independent Biafra in the southeast and clashes between mainly Muslim herders and Christian farmers.