Saturday, April 19, 2014

Unbridled corruption, impunity, poverty, bane of national development, says Babalola

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Former Finance Minister says corruption has to be tackled for national development goals to be achieved.

A former Minister of State for Finance, Remi Babalola, has challenged the Federal Government to confront, head-on, the unbridled corruption, lack of accountability, impunity and unemployment in the country if national development goals are to be achieved.

Mr. Babalola said this at the February edition of the’ Speaker Series Africa’ in Lagos. He said he remains optimistic about the country’s future outlook if these issues are addressed.

The former minister, who answered questions on the economy, politics, and his public service experience, said Nigeria needs to emulate other countries that found themselves in similar situations and took deliberate steps to turn around their circumstances.

“I am an incurable optimist on Nigeria,” Mr. Babalola said. “I believe the future of the country is bright. But then, it is all about choices we make as a nation in respect of leadership options and development strategies. If we make the right choices (I pray) the future is unbelievably great.

According to him, transforming from poverty to prosperity is reality closer than many people believe, pointing out that the formula for success could be found in China, India, Brazil and South Korea; with Malaysia and Indonesia as the closest references for comparative analysis with Nigeria.

In order to avoid bleak prospects in the country’s future, Mr. Babalola urged those entrusted with public finances to ensure that, as managers of the country’s economies, they pursue initiatives aimed at strengthening fiscal responsibility, due process in public procurement, and effective management of debts.

Mr. Babalola, who is also the Vice Chairman of Law Union and Rock Insurance Plc, advised leaders at all the three levels of government in the country to ensure that more resources are allocated for projects that would directly impact and touch the lives of the common man in the society.

The former minister, who said he had no regrets serving the country in the capacity he did, maintained that the opportunity to render service to his fatherland and humanity is the greatest privilege any citizen could get in life.

On his political future, the former minister said he does not nurse any immediate political ambition in the near future, but added that he does “not know about the long term since they say ‘never say never”.

He said that the government must learn to encourage the brightest minds in governance and leadership if the country must move forward; pointing out that if these people are allowed to have their means of livelihood or sustainability and value system on solid ground, it would help them remain independent.

The monthly ‘Speaker Series Africa’ is a youth motivational programme that brings leading African business people to young professionals; to enable them learn from it and to serve as inspiration to others.

Mr. Babalola was appointed Minister of State for Finance by late President Umaru Yar’Adua in July, 2007; a position he held until his resignation in September 2010.

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