As recession continues to bite, former President Olusegun Obasanjo said on Saturday that Nigeria could not continue to lament the current economic crisis.
Obasanjo gave this advice yesterday in Abeokuta at a lecture organised by members of the Youth Fellowship of the Owu Baptist Church as part of the Church’s activities to mark the Independence anniversary on theme: ‘Nigeria Development for Nigerians by Nigerians’.
The current administration and the immediate past government had been enmeshed in a blame game for some time. While the government of President Muhammadu Buhari has accused the erstwhile administration of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan of causing the economy to plunge into recession, some members of the past government said the prevailing crisis was as a result of the wrong steps the present government had taken in managing the economy.
Just last week, President Buhari said he would not stop blaming his predecessors for the current state of the nation.
But Obasanjo recalled he hinted a recession was imminent two years ago when he saw how recklessly the immediate past administration was spending the country’s resources but his advice was ignored.
He, however, said since the country is now confronted with the realities “we cannot continue lamenting.”
Nevertheless, talking about developing the economy, Obasanjo insisted it must not be left to Nigerians alone but should also include foreign investors.
As some of the recipes for development, he mentioned peace and security, education, food, sanitation, shelter and transportation.
He said that all those interested in assisting the country in its developmental efforts must also be encouraged to help it.
Obasanjo noted that Nigeria at 56 years as a nation was not where it ought to be, saying there was hope that Nigeria would surmount its challenges.
According to him, “Our development is impaired, it is not what it ought to be but we must get it right. We must all accept responsibility, we must stop passing the bulk.”
The former president,, however, lamented that one of the major things threatening the peace of the country was the high level of unemployment.
“Unemployment is a major problem in the country today and if we don’t take care, it will consume all of us, in fact, the rising unemployment is a time bomb.”
He recalled that as soon as he completed his secondary school education from the famous Baptist Boys High School (BBHS), Abeokuta, he was offered job by five different establishments, including the United Africa Company (UAC) and Moore Plantation, Ibadan but said the situation was different today.
He then recalled how business mogul, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, told him that six PHD holders were among applicants who applied to him to employ them as truck drivers due to the bad unemployment situation.
According to him, the high rate of unemployment was responsible for youth restiveness in the country, warning that the situation should be tackled with all the “seriousness” it deserves before it gets out of hand.
The former president, therefore, suggested that “there is no other way we can develop except, engaging in agriculture business, it is the only business that can generate the number of employment we need.”
“That is why we have to take it (Agriculture business) as a key of our development else the many educated Nigerians who have no job are like time bomb, sooner than later, it will explode.”
While answering question from the student, Obasanjo challenged the church to pay attention to both the spiritual as well as the physical well being of their congregations, insisting that as at present the church’s attention was focused only on the spiritual aspect of their congregations.