• Monday, June 24, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Poor implementation of fuel subsidy removal, FX pauperise Nigerians – Obasanjo

Mambilla, Obasanjo and the scapegoat mentality

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said that Nigerians are impoverished and economy is further battered owing to the two poorly implemented policies of President Bola Tinubu on fuel subsidy removal and foreign exchange differentials.

Obasanjo noted that President Bola Tinubu-led Federal Government had implemented the three out of several other policies and programmes of Government, which were either wrongly conceived, formulated or implemented to the detriment of Nigerians and the economy.

The former president identified the sudden fuel subsidy removal and poorly supervised closure of the gap between parallel market and official rates of foreign exchange as well as sanctions imposed on Niger Republic due to Coup D’etat by Nigeria-influenced Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) as policies of Government wrongly implemented.

Speaking at a Colloquium held in Abuja, tagged, “Nigeria’s Development: Navigating the Way Out of the Current Economic Crisis and Insecurity”, stated that economic polices must be rightly pursued if Nigeria must develop economically as economy does not obey orders but market realities, requesting President Tinubu to be transformational in his polices in order to build the investors’ confidence and Nigerian economy.

Read also: Tinubu’s handling of fuel subsidy, Niger coup poor – Obasanjo

While citing the example of TotalEnergies deal worth $6 billion investment which Nigeria lost to Angola, Obasanjo said Tinubu Presidency had not found the right way to handle the economy to engender confidence and trust for investors to start trooping in, and must quickly do something on economic incentives that are capable of attracting foreign investors, rebuilding the economy and bringing succour to the impoverished Nigerians.

He said, “Today, government has taken three decisions, two of which are necessary but wrongly implemented and have led to impoverisation of the economy and of Nigerians. These are removal of subsidy, closing the gap between black market and official rates of exchange and the third is dealing with Military Coup in Niger Republic.

“The way forward is production and productivity which belief and trust in government leadership will engender. No short cut to economic progress but hard work and sweat.

“Economy does not obey orders, not even Military orders. I know that. If we get it right, in two years, we will begin to see the light beyond the tunnel. It requires a change of characteristics, attributes and attitude by the leadership at all levels to gain the
confidence and trust of investors who have
alternatives.

“Total Energy has gone to invest 6 billion dollars in Angola instead of Nigeria. If the truth must be stated, the present Administration has not found the right way to handle the economy to engender confidence and trust for investors to start trooping in.

“They know us more than we know ourselves. And now they are laughing at us, not taking us seriously. We have to present ourselves in such a way that we will be taken seriously. If the existing investors are disinvesting and going out of our country, how do we persuade new investors to rush in. We can be serious if we choose to be but we need to change from transactional leadership in government to transformational and genuine servant leadership.

“With change by us, the investors will give us benefit of doubt, and security being taken care of on sustainable long-term basis, they will start to test the water. With the right economic policies, attribute of integrity and honesty of purpose, all should be well with all hands on deck and government become a catalyst for development, growth and progress.

Read also: Obasanjo says western democracy has failed Africa, advocates for ‘Afro-Democracy’

“Thinkering with exchange rate is not the answer. The answer is consistency and continuity in policy to ensure stability and
predictability. That way, we will be sure of
incentivizing domestic and foreign investment. There must be honesty and transparency in government dealings and contracts and not lying with deception about these issues. When government is seen as pursuing the right policy, the private sector will go for production and productivity.

“Change is possible but it must begin with the leadership

“Looking at the topic of today’s occasion, the question I would ask is, how do we navigate our way out of these crises and pave the path towards a more secure and prosperous Nigeria? I believe the answer to this requires a multi-faceted approach that addresses the root causes of these challenges. The central questions are: where were we? And how did we get to where we are today.

“Firstly, we must know where we are coming from. Our economy has consistently suffered from poor policies, lack of long-term sustainable policies, discontinuity, adhocry and corruption firmed on personal greed, avarice, incompetence, lack of knowledge and understanding and lack of patriotism.

“For instance, the statement and proposed actions given forty-five years ago to stop fuel scarcity is the same statement and action being touted today. I recall when I made the statement that the refineries will not work, the sycophants and spin doctors of this current administration went out to castigate me as not being a petroleum engineer and that I did not know what I was talking about.

“They forgot that the attempt that was made in 2007 to partly privatise the refineries was made by me after a thorough study of the situation. But the decision was reversed by my successor and the 750 million dollars paid was refunded.”

Speaking further on what could be done to change the economic narratives of Nigeria for the better, the former president suggested a formulation and implementation of a 25-year blueprint on socio-economic growth and development, saying Nigeria needs both a short-term and long-term economic planning that allows capacity building, transparency and consistency of policies and action.

While identifying consistency of policies and action, capacity building, accountability and transparency as part and parcel of good governance in any political setting,Obasanjo noted that the law, especially as regards crimes and criminality must be strictly upheld against the economic saboteurs in order to further build the confidence of both local and foreign investors, and for the economic prosperity.

“A 25-year socio-economic development agenda that will be generally agreed to, by the nation of all political parties and passed into law by the National Assembly with State Assembly aspects also passed into law by the State Houses of Assembly. We take up the implementation on five-year basis. In reality, that plan will have the effect of almost a Constitution. The first priority in the implementation will be education for all.

“The second should be food and nutrition security through agribusiness. The third should be energy for all. The fourth should be industrialization and manufacturing. And the fifth should be science, technology, innovation and Artificial Intelligence, AI.

“In all these, government should provide conducive environment for private sector to operate and thrive. And where government will be involved at all, other than as policymaker and enabler, it should be on the basis of private public partnership with government as junior partner.

“We need stick and carrot approach. Stick to deal with those who cannot be weaned out of criminality and evil deeds and for those weaned, they should be rehabilitated. There should be no Nigerian without being in school compulsorily for eleven years – secondary education level.

“Employment must be a right for all Nigerians from age 18 years to 65 years. With such carrot in position, the stick must then be made more severe for criminals. Five years must be set out to ensure that every Nigerian child that is not in school is in school and no one is left out of popular education. Adult education should be embarked upon to give every Nigerian basic education equivalent to six years of formal education.

“We should give ourselves ten years to rid Nigeria of illiteracy. No matter what we do, if we do not find a way of educating, giving skills and empowerment, over 20 million Nigerian children that are out of school today will end up being rich recruitment centre for drug addicts, Boko Haram, bandits and other social misfits”, he added.