Latching on the state of the nation, former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to rise to the challenges posed by the current recession in Nigeria, noting that orders, wishful thinking and blame game would not solve the hapless state of affairs in the country.
Obasanjo also examined the manner the issues of corruption, proposed external loan, and recession among others were being responded to by the Federal Government and commended the government on the anti-graft war but regretted that the government had no comprehensive policy that would address the current state of despair in Nigeria.
The former President, who said these in Lagos at the first annual lecture of Akintola Williams Foundation, said it was uncharitable for the present administration to be blaming past governments that had served since 1999, noting that only a comprehensive framework would save the country. Obasanjo, who spoke on the theme: Nigeria, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: Governance and Accountability, observed that Nigeria had the right people, who could be brought together to help device the right economic policy that would get the country out of the current economic woes.
His words: “Again, now we are being told the projects will pay themselves when we know damn well they will not. If we borrow some thirty billion dollars in less than three years, we would have mortgaged the future of Nigeria for well over thirty years to come. There may also be the problem of absorptive capacity which will surely lead to waste.
A careful scrutiny of the projects with prioritisation and avoidance of waste and taking into account avoiding bunching of debt service in future especially when no one can accurately forecast the global and national economy will indicate less than thirty per cent of the foreign loan being requested as prudent. We must not be unmindful of internal borrowing either.
It impacts somewhat differently on the economy but it must not be allowed to crowd out the ability of the private sector to borrow to grow the real economy which is to lead us out of the recession.If we do not fix the economy to relieve the pain and anguish of many Nigerians, the gain in fighting insurgency and corruption will pale into insignificance.
“No administration can nor should be comfortable with the excruciating pain of debilitating and crushing economy. Businesses are closing, jobs are being lost and people are suffering.
I know that President Buhari has always expressed concern for the plight of the common people but that concern must be translated to workable and result-oriented socio-economic policy and programme that will turn the economy round at the shortest time possible. We cannot continue to do the same thing and expect things to change.
That will be a miracle which normally doesn’t happen in normal national economies. We have people inside and outside who can be brought together to help device the right economic policy and programme to get us out of the pit before we fall over the precipice into a dark cave “The blanket adverse comments or castigation of all democratic administrations from 1999 by the present administration is uncharitable, fussy and uninstructive. Politics apart, I strongly believe that there is a distinction between the three previous administrations that it would be unfair to lump them all together.
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 the 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.
I am sure that such a comprehensive policy and programme will not support borrowing US$30 billion in less than three years. It will give us the short-, medium- and long-term picture.”