He said on the contrary, he is concerned about ensuring that Nigeria is accorded good governance by those who lead it and for the umpteenth time, he has called on Nigerians to vote against bad candidates in the February general election.
He spoke in Abeokuta yesteday when he received market leaders from across the South West of Nigeria. But Obasanjo also seized the moment to excoriate the Goodluck Jonathan administration for wasting billion of dollars that would have helped Nigeria at this
moment to reduce the effect of falling oil prices.
“When we left in May 2007, the reserve was said to have been raised to $35 billion dollars. But today, that reserve has been depleted! The reserve we left when we finished paying all our debts, our debts that was about 40billion dollars, that is including debt forgiveness, the remaining debt was not more than 3billion dollars. Our reserve after we had paid off this debt was about 45billion dollars. As I said, they continued till the end of 2007, I heard that the reserve increased to almost 67billion dollars before the end of the year.
“What is left of our reserve now, I learnt is around 30 billion dollars. That is why the Naira has been falling against the dollar. What would now happen, I learnt if you want to buy a dollar now, it’s about N192 or N195. What it means is this, what you have been buying at N150 to a dollar, now you need N192 or N195 to buy it.
“That is the real situation. Is there any remedy? There is but it does not come overnight because it means we have to give up all the bad things we have been doing. Truly, the price of crude has fallen, but anyone who is wise enough should know that since we depend on just one resource and since we have no control over its pricing, we should be planning for this type of situation and the way out of it. Our inability to have reserve has brought us into this economic quagmire,”
He posited that with his experiences as a former military Head of State and as a former civilian President, he believes he has enough experience to advice any politician in this country, emphasizing that whoever turns deaf ears will have his or herself to blame.
He re-echoed that his criticism about happenings in the country was borne out of his desire to see that things were done in the right way.
According to him, “I know that God did not create Nigeria not to be rich or great. Is it that the people he created in Nigeria are not knowledgeable enough or not intelligent enough? Or is that they don’t know their rights? To understand Our problems in Nigeria, let’s look at the foundation of our leadership. In the profession I know very well, the military, what we normally say is that there are no bad soldiers but bad officers. If you see a situation where the soldiers are not doing well, we need to examine the officers in charge. So it is in the family, the community, the town and the country.
“Now, you said this year is an election year, I have no apprehension over these coming elections. I have no fears over the forthcoming elections.
“I have no grudges against Jonathan and I think Jonathan equally has no grudges against me. I’m not quarreling with Jonathan but all I know is that whatever is good for Nigeria, that I’m ready to die for. I emphasize that, whatever is good for Nigeria, is what I’m ready to defend with my life. Whoever, I emphasize, whoever says he would not do anything good to Nigeria, even, if he says he is ready to go ‘koko bellow’, I’m ready to square it up with such a person. I say again, whoever that person may be; I want you to get that correctly. If this country is going to change for the better, it would start from the top and if it’s going to be otherwise, it would start from the top too,” Obasanjo said.
“I have had some little experience about this country. I was a military Head of State and I was also a civilian president, so what is left? So, if I talk, I know what I’m saying. Whoever wants, should listen to me and whoever feels otherwise, may turn a deaf ear. But when I’m talking, I’m talking with my understanding and intellect. I’m drawing from my experience and from what I’ve learnt with others and from other countries and fellow eminent citizens of the world that I relate with,” he affirmed.
Obasanjo however charged Nigerians to cast their votes during the coming elections for credible people who have the love of the nation at heart.
“Good governance comes from voting, from selection of leaders. It is now left to you to decide who you cast your vote for because if you throw away your votes and tomorrow you are saying good governance, once you throw away your votes you have lost out. That is one. Find out the track records of achievements of those you want to vote for.
“What have they achieved in the past and not what they have said? If our economy is not good, it would affect those of you in the market. It takes us back to what we said earlier that if the head is rotten, it will affect the entire body because if there is no good governance, it would affect the economy. Our economy should not have been this bad. When I was leaving office about eight years ago, left a
very huge reserve after we had paid all our debts. Almost 25billion dollars were kept in what they called excess crude. The excess from the budget we were saving as reserve for the rainy days.
In her speech, the Iyalode of Egbaland who also doubles as the Iyalode of Yorubaland, Chief (Mrs) Alaba Lawson thanked the former President for the audience given to them, saying he has demonstrated what a good father should always be doing.
The Proprietress of the popular Lawson Group of Schools, Abeokuta raised a number of problems besetting women in the country, which according to her includes: corruption, poor economy, inadequate girl child education, women empowerment and how women can get involved in positions of authority in the country.
She further stated that the percentage of Nigerians yet to collect their permanent voter’s card in the country was too much, calling on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to ensure that all eligible voters collect their cards, if the Commission is serious about conducting free and fair election.
The women group however asked the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, whom they described as ‘father of the nation’, to show direction out of the present predicament in the nation.
Obasanjo advised that women should hold their destinies in their hands, stressing that all the issues raised in the paper presented were issues for the generality of Nigerians and not the South West alone.
The two term President told the women that bad economy affects women more because they look after the family as traders, saying the, “devaluation of naira for instance, has automatically affected purchasing power in the country.”
Obasanjo later went spiritual as he quoted from Biblical verses and rendered a story of how God called Samuel to anoint Saul as King of Israel, saying “it was the same God that called the same Prophet to anoint David as the next king when Saul misbehaved.”
He said only God gives power to whoever He wishes and takes it at anytime He wishes. He therefore called on those politicians who lost out during the primaries from their various political parties to take it in good faith.
Obasanjo reminded his visitors that he still remains an active member of PDP at
the ward level.
” I restricted myself to ward politics because of the prevailing situation and some people in the party,” he said.
Obasanjo, however promised the women groups that he will send a copy of the speech presented by their leader to the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega for prompt action on it, as he underlined the portion relating to the PVC issue.