God didn’t create Nigeria as a basket case –Obasanjo
Nigeria’s former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo on Sunday said he believed that God has not created Nigeria as a basket case but successive political leaders over the years moved the country backward with bad policies.
Speaking in Abeokuta at a lecture organized to mark his 86th birthday, Obasanjo said God has created Nigeria for a great purpose, asking Nigerians to blame the leaders for lacking political will to turn the country into a food basket of Africa.
“At independence, the world did not refer to Nigeria as giant in Africa, no, they referred to Nigeria as giant in the sun, Nigeria was more than giant in Africa, and it was giant in the sun. But, not only have we not been giant in the sun, we have not even been giant in Africa. Some people called us giants with clay feet.
“So, that is not what God has created Nigeria to be, that is what we Nigerians have inadvertently or advertently made Nigeria to be.
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Just as he noted that political leaders in the continent should be blamed for their inability to attain self-sufficiency in food production in their various countries.
“But, will Nigeria continue to be so, I believe no. So, we must continue to hold ourselves together, pray and understand all the factors and the elements that are making us to be not the giant, but the dwarf of Africa and how we can get out of it. I believe and pray that we will get out of it.
“Food security is very important and for as long as we are not reasonably self-sufficient in food and nutrition security in Africa, we are of course not doing the right thing for ourselves.
“Until Ukraine war, I really did not realize how much we in Africa, almost all of us in Africa depend on the Russians and the Ukrainians for wheat. Wheat which is used to make bread is only carbohydrate, are there no carbohydrate food stuff that can be produced in Africa that we can be self-sufficient in. I know some of our countries cannot produce wheat and this is the sort of thing that IITA have been doing.
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“Science and technology have given us all that we need for food and nutrition security in Africa. What is left is political will and political action.
The former Director-General of the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Dr. Netanyahu Sanginga, in his lecture, titled: “The Complex Dynamics in Achieving Food and Nutrition Security in Africa”, wondered why African countries still spend billions of dollars importing food, despite being blessed with fertile land.
He hinted that Nigeria is boosting other countries’ Internally Generated Revenue at her own detriment by spending no fewer than N11 billion annually on food importation.
He insisted that the country must move from a consumption country to a producing nation, stressing that the action would help improve the goal of food and job security.