Stop castigating past leaders, Obasanjo tells Buhari

Stop castigating past leaders, Obasanjo tells Buhari
November 24 06:11 2016

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has criticized President Muhammadu Buhari for dissipating so much energy in blaming his predecessors for the country’s economic woes rather taking steps to solve the problems.

Obasanjo frowned at the fact that his eight-year stewardship from 1999-2007 has come under consistent attacks by President Buhari and other government officials who now see blame game as the solution to the country’s problems.

Speaking during a paper he delivered at the First Akintola Williams Annual Lecture in Lagos titled, “Nigeria yesterday, today and tomorrow: Governance and accountability,” he said Nigerians did not yearn for change during the last election only for the President to be lamenting and blaming others instead of solving the problems on ground.

The ex-President also faulted the proposed borrowing of US$30bn by the Buhari administration, arguing that such would amount to taking the soft option capable of hurting the country in future.

According to Obasanjo, if the current administration does not fix the economy to relieve the pain and anguish of many Nigerians, the gains recorded in fighting insurgency and corruption will pale into insignificance.

“It is easier to win an election than to right the wrongs of a badly fouled situation. When you are outside, what you see and know are nothing compared with the reality. And yet once you are on seat, you have to clear the mess and put the nation on the path of rectitude, development and progress leaving no group or section out of your plan, programme and policy and efforts. The longer it takes, the more intractable the problem may become.

“I understand President Buhari’s frustration on the state of the economy inherited by him. It was the same reason and situation that brought about cry for change, otherwise there would be no need for change if it was all nice and rosy.

“Now that we have had change because the actors and the situation needed to be changed, let us move forward to have progress through a comprehensive economic policy and programme that is intellectually, strategically and philosophically based,” the ex-President said.

Obasanjo also warned the Federal Government against the planned $30bn foreign it intended to take, saying that would amount to taking tge easier road that would hurt the country in the future.

“We immediately need loans to stabilise our foreign reserve and embark on some infrastructure development but surely not $30bn over a period of less than three years. That was about the magnitude of the cumulative debt of Nigeria which we worked and wiped out 10 years ago.

“Before that debt relief, we were spending almost $3bn to service our debt annually and the quantum of the debt was not going down. Rather, if we defaulted, we paid penalty which was added on. Economy neither obeys orders nor does it work according to wishes. It must be worked upon with all factors considered and most stakeholders involved.

“The investors, domestic and foreign, are no fools and they know what is going on with the management of the economy including the foreign exchange and they are not amused. The Central Bank must be restored to its independence and integrity. We must be careful and watchful of the danger of short-termism. Short-term may be the enemy of medium and long-term,” he cautioned.

Eulogizing Akintola Williams, Obasanjo said he was never in government, but his contributions towards making the country better surpassed the achievements of many in government.