Obasanjo faults lawmakers over constituency â€˜corruptâ€™ project
Laleye Dipo in Minna
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Saâ€™ad Abubakar III, has opened another chapter in the call for devolution of power in the country, as he said there should be the devolution of the economy also.
He added that the federal government should release the management of its infrastructure in the states to state governments.
The monarch made the suggestion yesterday in a goodwill message he presented at the opening of a two-day investment forum organised by the Niger State Government with the theme: â€˜Impact Investing for Advancing Agricultural Economy and Innovationâ€™.
Abubakar said because of the federal system being operated in the country, â€œstate governments cannot have access to these infrastructures.
â€œAs we talk about devolution of power, I also think we should talk about devolution of the economy,â€ the traditional ruler said, adding that such would reduce the unemployment prevalent in most parts of the country.â€
He also drew the attention of the acting President Yemi Osinbajo to the dilapidated road in Suleja to Minna, urging him to summon the Minister of Works, Babatunde Fashola, to direct the contractor handling the contract to return to site.
Speaking further on the issue, Abubakar declared: â€œOur people suffer while traveling on this road. The federal government should do something about it fast.â€
Declaring the summit open, Osinbajo announced that states willing to partner the federal government to develop federal infrastructure would be encouraged to do so. He also said the surest way towards â€œdiversifying the national economy does not lie in hydrocarbons exploitation but in agriculture.â€
Meanwhile, speaker of the forum, former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who was also at the forum, ignited another war with members of the National Assembly when he declared the constituency projects embarked upon by the lawmakers as â€œcorrupt.â€
Obasanjo said: â€œThe Sultan talked about roads; I hope our lawmakers will use their positions and Acts positively so that when they put road projects in the budget, they will not turn it into what they now term as constituency projects.
â€œYou and I know what constituency projects mean, it is simply corruption.â€
The former president had been involved in verbal war with members of the National Assembly in the past when he described them as a â€œbunch of corrupt elements,â€ a statement the legislators did not take lightly, resulting in their description of the former president as â€œthe father of corruption in Nigeria.â€
Obasanjo urged federal and state governments to embark on massive rural and urban road construction to facilitate the movement of agricultural products from the farms to the markets.
â€œIf there is anything that will take us out of recession, it is agriculture, that is the only renewable business we can do to give us all the job creation, wealth creation that we need â€œ The former president said.
He therefore asked banks in the country to reduce their interest rates on agriculture loans to between 2.5 percent and five percent, saying doing so would facilitate agricultural development because â€œdouble digit interest rate will promote failure.â€
Also speaking at the forum, former military Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, disclosed that in another 33 years, the world population would hit the nine billion mark, with Nigeria accounting for five percent of the global population, adding that by then, food would be the greatest challenge.
Abdulsalami advised that everything should be done to increase the cultivation of food and cash crops in the country to avoid the anticipated food shortage.
In his remark, Niger State Governor Abubakar Bello, said the forum â€œis not a talk shop,â€ as was thought by some of the participants, adding: â€œThe decisions and recommendations at the forum will be implemented.â€
Among other dignitaries at the opening of the forum were Sokoto and Adamawa State Governors, Aminu Waziri Tambwal and Bindo Jibrila respectively; Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh; traditional rulers and members of the organised private sector.