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Obasanjo: subsidy removal, exchange rate policies necessary

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  • Ex-President faults implementation

Subsidy removal and the exchange rate policies introduced by the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration were necessary steps for the economy, former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said.

But he said the wrong implementations of the policies were hurting the economy and Nigerians.

Obasanjo spoke at a colloquium with the theme: Nigeria’s Development: Navigating the Way Out of the Current Economic Crisis and Insecurity, delivered at the Paul Aje Colloquium (tPAC) at the weekend in Abuja.

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In what could be described as his position on the first one year of President Tinubu’s administration, the elder statesman suggested ways out of the situation, including a 25-year development agenda.

He said: “Today, the government has taken three decisions, two of which are necessary but wrongly implemented and have led to impoverishment 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 a belief and trust in government leadership will engender. No shortcut to economic progress but hard work and sweat.

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“An 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 in Angola instead of Nigeria… 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.”

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Obasanjo took a swipe at those against his position on the refurbished Port Harcourt Refinery in Rivers State, describing them as “sycophants and spin doctors”.

He said such people failed to remember that the attempt that was made in 2007 to partly privatise the refineries was under his watch, after a thorough study of the situation, hence his knowledge and better understanding of the situation before making his decision late last year.

On the way out of the present economic pains, the former President recommended a 25-year socio-economic development.

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