Obasanjo blames nation’s woes on dumping of good legacies

Former Central Bank Governor  Charles Soludo (left);  ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo and Chairman, Heirs Foundation, Tony Elumelu at the 10th anniversary of the African Finance Corporation in Abuja…yesterday. PHOTO: PHILIP OJISUA

Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday lamented that Nigeria lost a generation of development due to the fact that successive governments abandoned some of the good legacies he left behind.

Obasanjo, who was military head of State between 1976 and 1979 and latter elected civilian president between 1999 and 2007 lamented that some of the enduring programmes he established have been abandoned, thus retarding the country’s growth.

He said this at the 10th year anniversary of the African Finance Corporation (AFC), a pan-African investment and trade finance institution, established in the dying days of his administration to bridge Africa’s infrastructure gap while delivering competitive financial returns, robust economic growth and positive social impact in 2007.

He cautioned that the vision of AFC should not be abandoned like others, adding that some of the programmes he conceived and established but which have been abandoned include: The Universal Primary Education (UPE); the Universal Basic Education (UBE) and the National Primary Health Development Agency (NPHDA)

While reacting to a question on where he expects the AFC to be in the next 10 years, he cited a conversation he had with the former Singaporean President Li Yong Kong when he approached him for the secret of his country’s transformation from a third world country to a developed one within a short a time.

His words: “Mr. Li Yong Kong told us that many things were wrong but that while we are thinking of the wrong things, we should also think of the things that were right. In Africa, we’re have done a few things right but we do not continue with them.

“For instance, the UPE was good, the UBE was good because education is the key to development. Did we continue with them? No. We did the primary health care developing agency. It was good. Did we continue with it? No.

“Again, in the Second Republic, when other countries were investing in agriculture, which would make them food sufficient, what did we do? We set up a committee on rice importation instead of rice production and we went to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to request for Letters of credit to import rice.

“We equally swindled the treasury of $5 million, which the perpetrator eventually lost to the American exporters. That action alone sent so many Nigerian investors one of who was a relation of mine to quick death because their businesses were jeopardised.

The former president insisted that Nigeria through some of its actions and inactions, lost a generation of development, but added that if the AFC continues to do the right things like it has done in the past 10 years in spite of the turbulence it faced with the succeeding administrations, “I see the institution becoming the umbrella of Africa in infrastructure financing.”



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