Former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, on Monday lambasted some state governors in Nigeria for living like emperors while demanding sacrifice from the citizens for Nigeria to survive the hard times.
Obasanjo chided the governors while speaking as the chairman at the inaugural conference of the Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy, held at the University of Ibadan.
Obasanjo said when he became Nigerian president in 1999; he recognised corruption as a major impediment to the Nigerian state, setting up structures like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission to fight the rot. However, he said that after he left, corruption returned to Nigeria with a vengeance, draining billions of dollars from the nation’s economy that could hardly afford to lose even a million dollars.
He said, “Leaders who call for sacrifice from the citizenry cannot be living in obscene opulence. We must address these foundational issues to make the economy work, to strengthen our institutions, build public confidence in government and deal with our peace and security challenges.
“We must address the issue of employment for our teeming population particularly for our youths. Leadership must mentor the young, and provide them with hope about their future as part of a process of inter-generational conversation.
“Nigeria is a country where some governors have become sole administrators, acting like emperors. These governors have rendered public institutions irrelevant and useless.
“Is there development work going on in the 774 constitutionally recognised local government councils, which have been merely appropriated as private estates of some governors?
“Some governors have hijacked the resources of the local governments and this has crippled the developments of the local government councils in the country. The National Assembly must also open its budgets to public scrutiny.”
The former president said drastic fall in the price of oil in the international market had exposed the weakness of governance in Nigeria, while also saying that Nigeria was racing towards becoming a nation of debt with its attendant burden on the citizens.
“The drastic fall in the price of oil in the international market has unraveled the weakness of governance in Nigeria. The Minister of Finance has 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 due to decline in the price of crude oil.
“If the current fiscal challenge is not creatively addressed, Nigeria may be on its way to another episode of debt overhang which may not be good for the country,” Obasanjo said.
On the establishment of ISGPP in Ibadan, Obasanjo said there was clearly a need for schools of its kind that would focus research and teaching on implementing policy and making the government work well in Africa.
“I hope it will generate ideas that will lead us from thinking to doing. It must not only generate ideas, it must foster a willingness to use those ideas within government and non-government sectors,” he said.
At the two day-conference, themed, ‘Getting government to work for development and democracy in Nigeria: agenda for change’, Chairman, Board of Governors of the ISGPP, who is a former foreign Affairs Minister, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, and professor of international history and politics, John Evans, also delivered addresses among other speakers.