By Luka Binniyat
KADUNA—Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday said Nigeria was yet to get the right leadership that will move it to true development.
Obasanjo spoke in Kaduna at the one-day Trade Fair seminar of Kaduna Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, KADCCIMA, saying he had identified the pitfalls inhibiting the nation’s growth and development.
He said: “Look, don’t worry unduly about the mistake the generation before you had made. When people talk to me and said ‘yes, you are wrong.’ I will accept that my generation had done a number of wrong things. But, we must have done some good things as well.
“My own generation fought for the unity of Nigeria. You cannot deny that. There are many things we must have done wrong but we fought for the unity of this country. I still have shrapnel from grenades that entered my body that our brothers shot at me during the civil war. But, at the end of it, we reconciled.
“In addition, my generation laid the foundation of democracy in the country. Our democracy is not perfect, our democracy is a journey and not a destination; we must continue to improve on it.My sons and daughters, what will your generation do?
“Condemnation is easy but what will you do? There are some people who have taken the bull by the horn and tried their best. But, all in all Nigeria is still intact. There are many countries that fought civil wars and they are not together.
‘’Yugoslavia, Pakistan, Sudan, we fought a civil war sadly, but we are still together. I thank for God and thank those who made that possible. Part of our problems is that our leaders have not taken the bull by the horn, ready to buy the bullet.
‘’We cannot have it easy like that for us to develop. You must be ready to take the bull by the horn. India, Malaysia, and some other countries did it. We have to do it at one time or the other.
“One of our problems is that we take one step forward and another backward. If Dangote and others have taken over the refinery that we privatized at that time we won’t have had all the problems we had with petroleum shortage and all that. But, that was not done.
“Now, the point is this, Aliko Dangote by himself today is building a refinery, 650,000 barrel per day refinery. That is what we are consuming, may not be more than 500,000 barrel per day. So, if building a refinery that can supply all that we need is what is desirable, then we are making progress.
“If you say what is the major problem of Nigeria that has to be corrected, it is the problem of leadership. And until we get it right, we are not going to go too far. Lack of continuity and inconsistency in government and lack of knowledge.
“There was a president, one of the two who came after me; the first statement he made was that he will generate 30,000 megawatts of electricity in four years. At that time, the maximum we generated from all the power plants that had been established in the country was 3, 900.
‘’I sent somebody to him quickly that if he can add 3,000 megawatts to what we had, he should be given the highest award in the country. He did not add one megawatt. He probably meant well but his knowledge and understanding was faulty.
“So, once your knowledge and understanding are faulty what you get will be faulty. And of course for the period he was in government, there was no addition, if there was anything it was reduction in megawatts.
“After 40 years when I put a ban on the importation of tooth pick, a president unbanned it. When I heard it on news I quickly put on my Babanriga and went straight to the president in Abuja and said what is this that I am hearing, you unbanned the importation of toothpick!.
“He told me that he was sorry, he did not read the paper put before him before he put approved. Recommendation was put before him, he didn’t read it he just put approved. That is a disaster for a country like Nigeria.’’