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03 Feb

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Monday said the current fiscal challenge facing the country must be creatively addressed.

Obasanjo spoke at the inaugural conference of the Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy held at the International Conference Centre of the University of Ibadan.

The former president said the drastic fall in the price of oil in the international market had unravelled the weakness of governance in the country.

" The Minister of Finance recently announced that the 2016 budget deficit may be increased from the current N2.2 trillion in the draft document before the National Assembly to N3 trillion

"It will be recalled that a few years ago we rescued Nigeria from its creditors with the deal in which the Paris Club of sovereign creditors wrote off USD 18 billion of debt,

" It was Africa’s largest debt cancellation. Nigeria then used windfall earnings from oil export to pay off another USD 12 billion in debts and arrears, " he said.

The president, who identified corruption as the greatest single challenge facing the country, said it was one of the worst legacies of misrule and bad governance,

"We set up the ICPC and the EFCC to tackle it head on. Today, corruption drains billions of dollars from our economy that cannot afford to lose even a million dollars.

" It seems we are just beginning the fight against corruption afresh.‎ Until recently, it seems corruption had returned with a vengeance, taking seat at the very heart of government.

"We must kick corruption out because it destroys almost everything and I am not talking about corruption of money; corruption of attitude, nepotism, favouritism, they are corruption in different forms, ‘’ he said.

Obasanjo also commended the initiator of the school, Dr Tunji Olaopa , saying that the institution seeks to engage with the people that public policy affects.

"I charge the conference to redefine the issues and catalyse a process of sustained dialogue to address them, " he said.

Chief Emeka Anyaoku, former secretary General of the Commonwealth, in a key note address said if the country must tackle the challenges confronting it effectively, it would need to restructure its present governance architecture.

‎Anyaoku said that the country had not yet got it right in terms of having an enduring governance structure that would ensure political stability and co-prosperity for all.

He said that the current eighth National Assembly should focus more on tackling ‎the country’s two major challenges--- social-economic development and enduring political stability.

"I urge the eighth National Assembly to take this opportunity to effect a more fundamental change in the country's governance architecture rather than stop tinkering with the edges of the constitution,’’ he said.

He said that the constitution must enable the country to plan and ‎pursue a non -crude-oil based economic development, particularly in the continuing fall in the price of crude oil.

"It must also address the issue of concentration of power at the centre which fuels the destabilising competition for the control of the centre between the country's ethnic and religious groups.

" In my view, there are many aspects of the present state of the Nigeria project that require fixing,’’ he said.

(NAN)

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26 Jan

President Muhammadu Buhari said Tuesday in Abuja that his administration will continue to welcome the support and understanding of the United States as it strives to achieve greater internal security and socio-economic progress in Nigeria.
Receiving a delegation led by the United States Secretary of Commerce, Ms Penny Pritzker at the Presidential Villa, President Buhari applauded ongoing American collaboration with his administration on security and developmental issues.


"I remain grateful for the reception accorded me and my team when we visited the United States at the invitation of President Obama.


"We discussed security, corruption, infrastructure, and many other issues.


"We thank America for sending experts to train our troops and providing hardware for our military because we must first stabilize the country before we can move it forward," the President told the delegation which included the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle, and three others.


The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who was at the meeting, said that although Nigeria currently faces serious challenges, it is also a time of great opportunities for the country.


"It's time to diversify our economy from oil. We've always talked about it, but never got round to doing it. The opportunity has come now. We have all it takes to be an agricultural nation. We also have solid minerals and we must develop our infrastructure in order to aid business."


Ms Pritzker told President Buhari that she was in Nigeria with 10 leading American business men and women, at the prompting of President Obama.


"The purpose is to better understand the opportunities and challenges of doing business in Nigeria. Our team is very optimistic about your government's commitment to security, good governance, fighting corruption, having reliable and regular regulatory policies.


"All these make us optimistic about working together. We are not here to sell policies, but to partner with you," she said.


Femi Adesina
Special Adviser to the President
(Media & Publicity)
January 26, 2016

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