Obasanjo Faults Tinubu’s Economic, Security Policies, Proposes 25-yr Dev’t Agenda

Obasanjo’s New Found Love For African-Based Democracy

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, on Sunday, faulted the economic and security policies of the incumbent President Bola Tinubu administration, declaring that the federal government was not getting governance right.

With specific mention of the removal of fuel subsidy, closing the gap between black market and official rates of foreign exchange, as well as dealing with military coup in the neighbouring Niger Republic, Obasanjo acknowledged that the Tinubu government’s three decisions, two of which are necessary, but were wrongly implemented and have led to impoverisation of the economy and of Nigerians.

He emphatically declared that the country would not attain the desired height until its leaders evolved a 25-year development agenda that is backed up by a law enacted by the National and State Assemblies.

In a statement issued in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital and signed by his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Akinyemi, the former president said the present administration has not found the right way to handle the economy to engender confidence and trust by investors to start trooping into the country, hence the hardship being experienced alongside the fluctuation in the value of the nation’s currency against the United States Dollar.

The statement, copy of which was made available to LEADERSHIP, explained that Obasanjo spoke while making his remark at a Colloquium themed: “Nigeria’s Development: Navigating the Way Out of the Current Economic Crisis and Insecurity”, which held at the Paul Aje Colloquium (tPAC) in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on Sunday.

Obasanjo also took a swipe at those against his position on the much-touted refurbished Port Harcourt Refinery in Rivers State, describing them as “sycophants and spin doctors”.

He declared that such people failed to remember that the attempt that was made in 2007 to partly privatise the refineries was made by him after a thorough study of the situation and given his knowledge and better understanding of the situation before making his final decision.

“Today, government has taken three decisions, two of which are necessary, but wrongly implemented and have led to impoverization of the economy and of Nigerians. These are removal of subsidy; closing the gap between black market and official rates of exchange and the third is dealing with military coup in Niger Republic.

“The way forward is production and productivity which belief and trust in government leadership will engender. No short cut to economic progress but hard work and sweat.

“Economy does not obey orders, not even military orders. I know that. If we get it right, in two years, we will begin to see the light beyond the tunnel. It requires a change of characteristics, attributes and attitude by the leadership at all levels to gain the confidence and trust of investors who have alternatives.

“Total Energy has gone to invest US Dollar 6 Billion in Angola instead of Nigeria. If the truth must be stated, the present administration has not found the right way to handle the economy to engender confidence and trust for investors to start trooping in.

“They know us more than we know ourselves and now they are laughing at us, not taking us seriously. We have to present ourselves in such a way that we will be taken seriously. If the existing investors are disinvesting and going out of our country, how do we persuade new investors to rush in. We can be serious if we choose to be but we need to change from transactional leadership in government to transformational and genuine servant leadership.

“With change by us, the investors will give us benefit of doubt, and security being taken care of on sustainable long-term basis, they will start to test the water. With the right economic policies, attribute of integrity and honesty of purpose, all should be well with all hands on deck and government become a catalyst for development, growth and progress.

On the economy, Obasanjo said: “tinkering with exchange rate is not the answer. The answer is consistency and continuity in policy to ensure stability and predictability. That way, we will be sure of incentivizing domestic and foreign investment. There must be honesty and transparency in government dealings and contracts and not lying with deception about these issues. When government is seen as pursuing the right policy, the private sector will go for production and productivity.

“Change is possible but it must begin with the leadership.”

The former President’s reaction to the Port Harcourt refinery issue was coming barely six months after the claim by the Tinubu administration that the refinery would begin operation in January. He noted that to get out of the current situation of the country, the government and the governed needed to look at the past and the present, and ask: ‘How do we get here?’.

“Looking at the topic of today’s occasion, the question I would ask is, how do we navigate our way out of these crises and pave the path towards a more secure and prosperous Nigeria? I believe the answer to this requires a multi-faceted approach that addresses the root causes of these challenges. The central questions are: where were we? And how did we get to where we are today.”

According to Obasanjo: “Firstly, we must know where we are coming from. Our economy has consistently suffered from poor policies, lack of long-term sustainable policies, discontinuity, ad-hocry and corruption firmed on personal greed, avarice, incompetence, lack of knowledge and understanding and lack of patriotism.

“For instance, the statement and proposed actions given forty-five years ago to stop fuel scarcity is the same statement and action being touted today. I recall when I made the statement that the refineries will not work, the sycophants and spin doctors of this current administration went out to castigate me as not being a petroleum engineer and that I did not know what I was talking about.

“They forgot that the attempt that was made in 2007 to partly privatise the refineries was made by me after a thorough study of the situation. But the decision was reversed by my successor and the 750 million dollars paid was refunded,” he stated.

On a way out, the former President disclosed that the country needed “a 25-year socio-economic development agenda that will be generally agreed to, by the nation of all political parties and passed into law by the National Assembly with State Assembly aspects also passed into law by the State Houses of Assembly. We take up the implementation on five-year basis. In reality, that plan will have the effect of almost a Constitution. The first priority in the implementation will be education for all.

“The second should be food and nutrition security through agribusiness. The third should be energy for all. The fourth should be industrialization and manufacturing. And the fifth should be science, technology, innovation and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

“In all these, government should provide conducive environment for private sector to operate and thrive. And where government will be involved at all, other than as policymaker and enabler, it should be on the basis of private public partnership with government as junior partner.

“We need stick and carrot approach. Stick to deal with those who cannot be weaned out of criminality and evil deeds and for those weaned, they should be rehabilitated. There should be no Nigerian without being in school compulsorily for eleven years – secondary education level.

“Employment must be a right for all Nigerians from age 18 years to 65 years.
With such carrot in position, the stick must then be made more severe for criminals. Five years must be set out to ensure that every Nigerian child that is not in school is in school and no one is left out of popular education. Adult education should be embarked upon to give every Nigerian basic education equivalent to six years of formal education.

“We should give ourselves ten years to rid Nigeria of illiteracy. No matter what we do, if we do not find a way of educating, giving skills and empowerment, over 20 million Nigerian children that are out of school today will end up being rich recruitment centre for drug addicts, Boko Haram, bandits and other social misfits,” the former President added.

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