Remi Adebayo, KADUNA
Nigeria’s development has been stunted by lack of competent political leadership, former President Olusegun Obasanjo bemoaned on Monday.
Chief Obasanjo, at a seminar at the on-going Kaduna International Trade Fair in Kaduna, said the country is lagging behind it peers owing to deficiency of leadership.
Chairman at the seminar on “Promoting Public Private Partnership as Panacea for Accelerated Growth and Development”, the former Nigerian leader said policy inconsistencies by successive governments was responsible for poor state of development in the country.
“That we’re not there is a function of leadership. We should stop blaming God because he has given us all that we need”, Obasanjo said.
He charged Nigerians and leaders to renew commitment towards the growth and development of the country, and noted that “those countries that are performing are not better than us; they are only more committed and understood what it takes.”
Obasanjo said the public and private sectors must work together to bridge the infrastructural shortfall in the country.
Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai expressed sadness that the Code of Ethics designed as rules for the Bureau of Public Enterprises was jettisoned after leaving the Bureau as its director general.
He identified lack of long-term planning as one of the problems confronting the nation.
He said the Kaduna Infrastructural Masterplan is estimated at N800 billion where the private sector is expected to contribute some 60 per cent of the sum in pursuit of Public Private Partnership.
Speaking on the endemic security issues in southern Kaduna, Governor El-Rufai bemoaned the situation where ‘ethnic and religious entrepreneurs’ entice the youths with money and drugs to destabilise the state.
He lamented; “Today, the city of Kaduna is divided across the river; those that consider themselves northern Kaduna, and muslims live on this side of the river; those who consider themselves southern Kaduna, Christians live on the other side of the river.”
The governor counselled that the trend is reversible only if the everyone would live together in peace by respecting and love each others; regretting that the state has not experienced that lately.
El-Rufai restated that his government would continue to treat everyone equally, saying, “We don’t recognise indigenes and settlers in Kaduna State; we’re all citizens and our doors shall be open to everyone irrespective of ethnic or religious background.”
Former Minister of Finance, Dr. Shamshudeen Usman, who was the guest speaker, charged legislators to pass the National Planning and Prospects Continuity Bill to give fillip to private sector participation in infrastructural development.
He also called on government to strengthen the institutional and legal frameworks for doing business while calling on government at the highest level to be committed and focused in policy continuity.
Usman believed that the country’s bidding, tendering and contract implementation processes are weak, stressing that Nigeria is always happy to pay world-class cost and receive second or third-class quality.
Welcoming participants to the seminar, KADCCIMA President, Dr. Muheeba Dankaka said the theme of the gathering was deliberately chosen to appreciate and compliment government efforts towards restructuring of economy that has been facing a lot of challenges due to dwindling resources.
“It is our belief that promoting public private partnership will go a long way in stalling slide into recession and lead to sustainable growth and development in the business sector and country at large.
“It is no wonder therefore that the majority of infrastructure projects currently underway at both state and federal levels are powered by IPPs,” Dankaka noted.
She called on government at various levels to work hard on improving the Nigerian business environment especially now that the nation is faced with economic challenges, believing that the commitment and determination of the current leadership in the nation is capable of reversing the trend.