Nigeria needs president with sound knowledge of the economy – Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo [Photo credit: Ventures Africa]

A former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, on Tuesday said Nigeria needs a president with a sound knowledge of the economy to make progress and develop the country.

Mr Obasanjo reiterated what a former German Chancellor, the late Helmut Schmidt, who was one of his friends, told him during a discussion about African countries.

Late Mr Schmidt argued 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.

According to a the report on Punch, Mr 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 Lagos.

The theme of the lecture is titled, “The trying triangle of economy, faith and politics – Looking through the eye of the needle” and was delivered by the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Matthew Kukah.

The former president said Mr Kukah was right in his description of politics as a game, as politics must be the most serious game created by man.

“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,” he said.

He said he agreed with Mr Kukah that even Jesus Christ had a good knowledge of economy.

“There is no doubt at all that if we have to get it right, the three (economy, faith and politics) must go together,” he said.

“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,” he said.

Mr Obasanjo said for Nigeria to get it right, the country must strike a balance between economy, faith and politics.

This is Obasanjo’s first public comment since the emergence of former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, as the presidential candidate of the People Democratic Party (PDP).

Mr Obasanjo argued that politics remained the decider of the fate of a nation and must be taken seriously.

“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,” he said.

Mr Kukah said it was redundant to ask whether Christians should participate in politics, noting that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, is a pastor.

The cleric said Christians needed to be patient with, rather than put pressure on fellow Christians who have gone into politics.

“Let’s become less arrogant that politics is dirty, let(s) go in there and clean it; we can’t clean it up because there is no way to clean it up; and second, we must also become a bit more patient with our people who are in politics. If we make the General Overseer of First Square Church the President, his first critics will come from this church.”

Also, the general overseer of Foursquare Gospel Church, Felix Meduoye, said the lecture was the church’s contribution to nation building.

Meanwhile, the Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, says it will soon make a pronouncement on its most preferred presidential candidate among the different political parties in the country, jostling to wrest power from the ruling APC.

The group spoke on Tuesday through its national publicity secretary, Yinka Odumakin, after a two-hour closed door meeting with Mr Obasanjo in Abeokuta.

Mr Odumakin said the Afenifere chieftain had come to reciprocate Mr Obasanjo’s visit to Mr Adebanjo and to discuss the way forward for Nigeria.

He reiterated the group’s position that Nigeria might not move forward without restructuring, noting that the group would soon declare its support for the presidential candidate who favoured restructuring.

Ahead of next year’s general elections, different political parties at the weekend elected their presidential candidates, with Muhammadu Buhari emerging as the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, while Mr Abubakar emerged the standard bearer of the PDP.

Mr Obasanjo had on a number of occasions criticised Mr Buhari’s handling of the economy.

In January this year, he wrote to Mr Buhari, scoring the president’s performance low and advising him not to seek re-election.

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