Most of you “empty headed”, Obasanjo takes swipe at Nigerian leaders
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, on Monday, lambasted Nigerian leaders, stating that most of them were empty as far as development issues were concerned.
Obasanjo made this remark in Abuja while delivering the keynote address at the public presentation of a book titled, ‘Reclaiming the Jewel of Africa,’ written by a former Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, who also served as Minister of Finance, Olusegun Aganga.
The book was unveiled by President Bola Tinubu, through his Special Adviser on Monetary Policy, Olawale Edun.
The event witnessed a large turnout of past and current senior government officials, as former President Goodluck Jonathan and Obasanjo spoke virtually.
Pointing out that emphasis should be placed on leadership, Obasanjo said it was the crucial, critical, defining and decisive factor in determining the shape, form, direction, speed, content and trajectory of development for any human organisation, especially for a nation like Nigeria.
“If you ask most of our leaders why they want to be in the position they are craving for, you will weep for our nation over their level of emptiness as far as development issues are concerned.
“What do they understand for peace, security, stability, predictability, development, growth and progress to be actualised? I believe that peace, security, democracy and prosperity must be taken together.
“Any leader that fails to understand any of these and fails to bring them together to deliver good governance for the welfare and well-being of the people – all the people – cannot contribute anything significant,” the former President stated.
Obasanjo noted that complementary to the issue of leadership was consistency and continuity of policies.
He said the country was never short of policies, but noted that the rightful implementation of these policies had remained an issue.
The former President, however, noted that “with leadership issue resolved, in terms of character, attributes, value, virtue, orientation, performance and love of humanity with love and fear of God, all other things will be given, in terms of achievement and Nigeria will become a Giant in the Sun.”
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He also decried Nigeria’s inability to live up to expectations since it got independence about 63 years ago, stressing that the country had not only disappointed itself but also Africa and the world.
“Over the last 63 years, we have not lived up to expectations. We have disappointed ourselves; we have disappointed Africa; we have disappointed the black race; and we have disappointed the world,” Obasanjo stated.
He, however, stated that “what Segun (Aganga) has tried to identify, itemise and recommend in his book is the way forward. But the beginning of charting a new course for ourselves is to admit our failure because we have not always put the round peg in the round hole.
“We are carried along by ego and emotion of self, selfishness and self-centredness, ethnic and religious jingoism with total lack of understanding of the world. We live in and a gross misunderstanding of what development entails and how to move fast and continuously on the trajectory of development.”
The former President said skill acquisition, empowerment and employment of youth seemed to be ignored or not appreciated enough.
“We do not need to look far for the remote causes of banditry, Boko Haram, kidnapping and other organised crimes.
“We are living dangerously on a keg of gunpowder, driving more people into poverty through good policies poorly and thoughtlessly implemented or bad policy and no policy at all,” he stated.
On his part, Jonathan stated that Aganga, during his time as trade minister, helped in attracting investments to Nigeria, and commended the former minister for the book.
“As my minister of Industry Trade and Investment, Dr Aganga, at a point, turned me into a marketing manager by travelling with me to at least 40 countries in search of foreign investments.
“I am glad that the venture and travels which he captured in one of the chapters in the book paid off as our nation then became Africa’s first destination for foreign direct investment and one of the fastest-growing economies at that time,” Jonathan stated.
Similarly, Tinubu lauded the strides of the former minister and noted that his government would promote meritocracy as advised by Aganga in the book.