Tuesday, February 2, 2016 1:05 am
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Monday identified corruption as the greatest single challenge facing Nigeria, attributing it to one of the worst legacies of misrule and bad governance.
He also noted that until President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent effort to fight corruption headlong, it had “taken a seat at the very heart of government”, and was fighting Nigeria with a vengeance.
The remark by the former president was at the inaugural conference of the Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy held at the International Conference Centre of the University of Ibadan. It was an undisguised critique of the Jonathan years, unravelling as a very corrupt era in Nigeria’s history.
Obasanjo, who himself governed Nigeria twice, 1976-1979 and 1999-2007 tried to exculpate his regimes from blame and praised his efforts at his last coming.
“We set up the ICPC and the EFCC to tackle it head on. Today, corruption drains billions of dollars from our economy that cannot afford to lose even a million dollars.
” It seems we are just beginning the fight against corruption afresh. Until recently, it seems corruption had returned with a vengeance, taking seat at the very heart of government.
“We must kick corruption out because it destroys almost everything and I am not talking about corruption of money; corruption of attitude, nepotism, favouritism, they are corruption in different forms, ‘’ he said.
On the economy, Obasanjo said the current fiscal challenge facing the country must be creatively addressed.
The former president said the drastic fall in the price of oil in the international market had unravelled the weakness of governance in the country.
” The Minister of Finance recently announced that the 2016 budget deficit may be increased from the current N2.2 trillion in the draft document before the National Assembly to N3 trillion
“It will be recalled that a few years ago we rescued Nigeria from its creditors with the deal in which the Paris Club of sovereign creditors wrote off USD 18 billion of debt,
” It was Africa’s largest debt cancellation. Nigeria then used windfall earnings from oil export to pay off another USD 12 billion in debts and arrears, ” he said.
Obasanjo also commended the initiator of the school, Dr Tunji Olaopa , saying that the institution seeks to engage with the people that public policy affects.
“I charge the conference to redefine the issues and catalyse a process of sustained dialogue to address them, ” he said.