…as Afenifere holds closed-door parley with OBJ
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said Nigeria requires a President with a sound knowledge of the economy to make headway.
This, he said, was what a former German Chancellor, the late Helmut Schmidt, who was one of his international friends, told him during a discussion about African countries.
He argued that there was no way that a President with poor knowledge of the economy could meet the needs of the citizens, adding that even Jesus Christ understood economy.
Obasanjo spoke in Lagos at this year’s edition of the Foursquare Gospel Church annual public lecture, which held at the church’s national headquarters in Yaba on Tuesday.
He chaired the lecture with the theme, “The trying triangle of economy, faith and politics – Looking through the eye of the needle.”
The lecture was delivered by the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Rev. Fr. Matthew Kukah.
Commenting on the lecture, the former President said even if Kukah was right in his description of politics as a game, politics must be the most serious game created by man.
He said he agreed with Kukah that even Jesus Christ had a good knowledge of economy.
Obasanjo said he believed that for Nigeria to get it right, the country must strike a balance between economy, faith and politics.
He said, “There is no doubt at all that if we have to get it right, the three (economy, faith and politics) must go together.
“One of my international friends, the late Helmut Schmidt, who was a former Chancellor of Germany – he died at the age of 96 about three years ago, I was at the burial – and he said if we, in Africa have to make it, all our political leaders must have good grounding in economy.
“As a fact from Bishop Kukah, even Jesus Christ understands economy and if you have a leader who does not understand economics, then you cannot have a leader that will satisfy the need of the people, the physical and the material needs of the people.”
Noting that major political activities had happened in the country in the last 72 hours, Obasanjo said though he had retired from politics, politicians never left him alone, as they continued to consult and seek his opinion.
Ahead of next year’s general elections, different political parties at the weekend elected their presidential candidates, with President Muhammadu Buhari emerging as the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, while a former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, emerged as the standard bearer of the major opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party.
Obasanjo had on a number of occasions criticised Buhari’s handling of the economy.
In January this year, he wrote to Buhari, scoring the President’s performance low and advising him not to seek re-election.
Earlier in May, 2016, speaking at the Covenant University’s third International Conference on African Development Issues, Obasanjo had quipped, “Buhari is not a very hot person on the economy and foreign affairs.”
On Tuesday, he argued that politics remained the decider of the fate of a nation and must be taken seriously.
Obasanjo said, “The point is this, politics is the master, master to the economy, master to other human activities, except that religion is over politics.
“If we must succeed, we must all accept that politics is master and that politics is so important and so serious that it must not be left in the hands of politicians alone. We must all be part of it.”
Meanwhile, members of the Pan Yoruba Socio-cultural group, Afenifere, on Tuesday held a closed-door meeting with former President Olusegun Obasanjo in Abeokuta, Ogun, over the 2019 polls.
The meeting which started around 3.30 p.m lasted about two hours.
Mr Yinka Odumakin, who addressed newsmen on behalf of the group after the meeting, said the group was in Abeokuta to pay a return visit to Obasanjo.
The former president had recently visited Chief Ayo Adebanjo, one of the leaders of the group, in Lagos.
He said the meeting, which centred around the 2019 polls, was meant to harmonise the position of the Yorubas in Nigeria concerning the 2019 general elections.
“Few weeks back, Obasanjo came to Lagos to visit Pa Ayo Adebanjo and we are here again today to return the visit in order to further strengthen the friendship with the group.
“The meeting also aims at creating an harmonious position in Yorubaland over the leadership of the country in respect of the 2019 general elections.
“The general elections are around the corner and leaders across Nigeria are coming together to discuss the event, which is so crucial to the life of the nation.
“All hands must be on deck to get the country re-established and all grey areas must be ironed out,” he said.
Odumakin described the 2019 presidential race as “exciting” in the light of the candidates, who have emerged from the two major political parties.
He, however, said “the most important thing to the Afenifere group is the issue of restructuring.”
According to him, the group would support any candidate, who prioritises restructuring, because Nigeria could not realise its dream without restructuring.
He said the group would soon adopt its preferred presidential candidate, saying “an official pronouncement would be made on the decision.
” The pendulum is swinging and we will let you know where it finally settles,” he said.
Members of the group, who attended the meeting are a former governor of Osun state, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, a former Minister of State for Defence, Mrs. Dupe Adelaja, Chief Ayo Adebanjo and Hon.Oladipo Olaitan.
Others are former Nigerian Ambassador to the Netherlands, Dr Tokunbo Awolowo- Dosunmu, Sen. Femi Okurounmu, Prof.Banjo Akintoye, Mr. Yinka Odumakin and Mr. Supo Sonibare