By John Shiklam in Kaduna
Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, has said Nigerian leaders lack focus, commitment, continuity and sometimes, proper knowledge about economic and development issues.
He declared that one of major problems facing the country which urgently needs to be corrected is poor leadership.
“Nigerian leaders lack focus, commitment, continuity and sometimes, proper knowledge about economic and development issues, hence we have not been able to achieve meaningful result,” Obasanjo said.
He lamented that “another problem is that we take one step forward and another step backward.”
Obasanjo said: “Nigerian leaders must be tough and ready to bite the bullet, because Nigeria cannot have it easy and until we get the right leadership, the problem will continue.”
The former president spoke yesterday in Kaduna at a one-day seminar on ‘Promoting Public Private Partnership as panacea for accelerated growth and development,’ organised by the Kaduna Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture ( KADCCIMA) to flag off the 38th Kaduna International Trade Fair.
Expressing displeasure over inconsistency in policies, Obasanjo said as a military Head of State, his administration banned the importation of toothpick in 1977, “because it was the most stupid thing to import when we can produce it here.”
He regretted however, that “about 40 years after, one of the presidents that came after me, I won’t mention his name, unbanned toothpick. Then, I put on my Babanriga and went to Abuja to express my shock about the policy, but to my greatest surprise, the president told me he signed the document unbanning toothpick without reading it.
“Another thing is that, he came in saying he will generate additional 30,000 megawatts to the 3,500megawatts we left behind, and I told him, don’t trouble yourself, if you can add 3,000 megawatts to the one we left behind, you will receive the best of awards. But, to my greatest shock, he couldn’t add one megawatt before leaving office.”
Speaking further on the economic challenges facing the country, Obasanjo said lack of synergy in public and private sectors was responsible for the setbacks in the nation’s economy and growth.
He noted that the public sector perceives the private sector as a profit making Industry that reaps where it does not sow, stressing that in actual fact, they are two legs that when brought together can accelerate development in all sectors of the economy.
He stressed that for the nation to witness accelerated growth and development, the two sectors must work together.
“When we were in office, we privatised NNPC and sold to Dangote and partners, but the government that succeeded me revoked it and that is why till today, NNPC cannot work optimally.
“But today the same Dangote that was denied ownership of NNPC is building a refinery that can produce in excess of what NNPC can produce and what Nigeria can consume. So, it means he will even export,” Obasanjo said.
Also in a lecture he presented at the occasion, former Minister of Finance, Dr. Shamdudeen Usman, maintained that lack of continuity in governance and poor will by political leaders to complete projects started by their predecessor was responsible for the nation’s underdevelopment.
He noted: “Delay in budgetary approval process and padding of the budget attributes to the slow acceleration of growth and development experienced in the nation.”