Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday, in a damning verdict, said Nigeria has failed the African continent in particular, and the world in general. Obasanjo stated this in Abuja while giving the keynote address at the public presentation of the book titled: ‘Reclaiming the Jewel of Africa,’ written by former Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, who also served as Minister of Finance, Olusegun Aganga.
President Bola Tinubu, represented by his Special Adviser on Monetary Policy, Olawale Edun, unveiled the book with past and present senior government officials in attendance. In his remarks, which were presented virtually, Obasanjo said more Nigerians are being plunged into poverty due to good policies poorly implemented, bad ones and absence of policies.
Although no name was mentioned, Obasanjo’s comment is coming on the heels of hardship occasioned by fuel subsidy removal by President Tinubu – a decision described in some quarters as a good move taken without proper consultation.
The former President also said the prevailing insecurity and spate of out-of-school children had pushed Nigeria on the precipice, noting that the nation had failed to live up to its expectations since independence in 1960.
Obasanjo said: “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.”
He, however, added 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 gross misunderstanding of what development entails and how to move fast and continuously on the trajectory of development.”
Obasanjo identified two of the major issues that were interrelated in terms of factors for all-round development. “These are peace and security, which we cannot achieve without justice, equity and inclusive society. And telling ourselves the truth, we have not done well on these scores in the recent past — in the last decade and a half.
“I will also point at the issue of education, where over 20 million children that should be in school are not in school. We do not need an oracle to tell us the consequences of that for tomorrow. 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 added.
Meanwhile, a group, the Arewa Citizens Watch for Good Governance (ACWGG), has given the government a 10-day ultimatum to end hunger and reverse petrol price. Failure by the government to heed to their demands, the group vowed to “lead hungry, depressed, and frustrated Nigerians to a massive civil and peaceful protest” to press home their requests.
In a statement by the chairman of the group, Aliyu Sani, he expressed deep concerns over the escalating energy prices in Nigeria and growing hunger in the country, which has led to increasing cases of petty theft and unusually high mortality in the North and country at large.
Sani, who also called for the immediate removal of the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL), Mele Kolo Kyari, for “misleading President Tinubu into removing petrol subsidy without provision of palliative measures.”
The group also called for comprehensive investigation into the subsidy regime and the corruption allegations within the oil and gas sector, as “evidenced by the suspicious drop in daily consumption of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and the astronomic rise in the general revenue of the country.”
According to the Arewa youth leader, “the recent increase in NNPCL’s output, without corresponding investment in the company, has instead exposed the pervasive corruption within the sector. We find it alarming that NNPCL was declaring paltry production volume, which falls short of our OPEC quota even though the country has not recorded any major disaster.
“We believe that the Nigerian people deserve better. As a nation blessed with abundant natural resources, it is only fair that the benefits of these resources are felt by all citizens, not just a select few. The mismanagement and corruption within the oil and gas sector have hindered economic growth and contributed to the financial burden faced by ordinary Nigerians.
We expect the administration to go after those that have benefitted from the opaque subsidy aspiration just as Nigerians are bearing with the hardship induced by the sudden removal of the subsidy. Our people cannot continue to die of hunger, while the people that put in the situation that warranted the removal of the subsidy continue to enjoy the privileges of their office,s
Barely two months after the removal of petrol subsidy, Nigerians have been advised to cope with the rising costs of fuel just as the organised labour movement says it can no longer fight against the high costs of the product.
President of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Festus Osifo, who stated this in Abuja, yesterday, while speaking on the state of the nation, explained that the full enthronement of deregulation as encapsulated in the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) has liberalised the pricing of petrol.
On the non-inauguration of the committees set up by the government to deliberate on palliatives, Osifo hinted that with about two weeks to the timeline given to TUC by its executives, the government has not taken any concrete steps to ensure the committees do their work.
He explained: “As we speak, the Federal Government has not taken any action towards ensuring the committees begin their work. You may recall that the TUC gave the government about eight weeks to end all discussions on palliatives but up to now, nothing concrete has happened.
The timeline given by TUC will end toward the middle of next month and the committees are yet to begin work. However, we believe that there is still time because many of the sub-committees have been working. For us as a labour movement, we are ready to work into late hours and even weekends to ensure this task is accomplished.”
While the Federal Government may not have control over the pump price of petrol, Osifo said the government can choose to defend the naira to stabilise prices of goods and services, especially energy.
His words: “The labour movement can no longer fight against the high costs of petrol because it is a matter of law. Do we want deregulation as a country or we do not want it? That is what we have to deal with. If we do not want it, the government can continue to control the price while we face the consequences. If we want deregulation, then the government will no longer control the price. That is where we are now.
“But as I have always argued that the greatest enemy confronting the country today is the floating of the naira. I do not know of any country in the world that floats its currency without any kind of support. The high cost of petrol is a consequence of the devaluation of the naira.
“Prices are determined by the costs of production. In this case, once the price of crude oil goes up in the international market, the price will go up. Then once the value of the naira nosedives, the price of petrol will also go up. That is why it went up when the naira went from N460 to a dollar to around N850 now. It is a function of the market.”