Former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday said Nigeria needs a leader with a sound grasp of economics. He said a leader who lacks good understanding of the workings of the economy cannot succeed. The former President said even Jesus Christ understood economics.
He spoke in Lagos when he chaired the 2018 Annual Public Lecture of the Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria ahead of its 63rd Annual National Convention.
Obasanjo, however, did not elaborate on which of the presidential candidates meets the prescriptions.
The former President, who exchanged banters with guest speaker and the Lord Bishop of Sokoto Dioceses, Rev Father Matthew Hassan Kukah, also avoided questions..
Reporters waited to interview Obasanjo as he walked out of the hall after the lecture but he went to a chair and sat with Bishop Kukah for a chat at the church’s lobby.
As they discussed, reporters waited for him. Obasanjo kept mum as questions were directed at him. His aides shielded him to his waiting Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV).
During his remarks, Obasanjo hinted that he was not done with politics. He said there were those who thought he had retired.
The promoter of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), who received some of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential aspirants before the party’s convention that produced former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as the candidate, said: “There are those who think we have retired or are retiring,” he said without giving further explanation.”
He also said he received enquiries on his thoughts about recent political developments.
He, however, did not name the specific developments or elaborate on what he told those who sought his opinion.
Obasanjo was thought to be referring to Atiku’s emergence as candidate and President Muhammadu Buhari as the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate.
Obasanjo said a former German Chancellor, the late Helmut Schmidt, once told him that what Africa needed was a leader who had a good understanding of economics.
The lecture had the theme: “The trying triangle of economy, faith and politics – looking through the eye of the needle.”
The former President said: “There is no doubt at all that if we have to get it right, the three (economy, faith and politics) must go together. One of my international best friends was the former Chancellor of Germany. He died at the age of 96 years. He died about two years ago. I was at his burial.
“He said to me that if we in Africa must have development, all our political leaders must have a grounding in economics. As you heard from Bishop Kukah, even Jesus Christ was a good economist.
“If you’re a leader who does not understand economics, then you cannot be a leader that will satisfy the physical and material needs of your people.”
Obasanjo added: “If we must succeed, we must all accept that politics is the master, and that it is so important and so serious that it must not be left in the hands of the politicians alone. We must all be part and parcel of it.”
Kukah had described politics as a game, adding that citizens cannot look for “inspiration” from politicians, because, according to him, they have different things demanding their attention.
Reacting, Obasanjo said: “If politics is a game, it’s probably one of the more serious games that human beings have ever created.
“The problem is that politics is a game that some don’t treat with all the seriousness that it deserves. And that is one problem of politics, particularly in our land.”
The former President described the theme of the lecture as the right one at the right time.
After defining politics, economy and faith, he said there was a relationship among the concepts.
According to him, faith, which he compared trust, was needed in executing economic policies.
“Faith must go with the management of politics and economy. So, they are cousins. And where the cousins are not in tandem, are not working together, you can never get it right.
“I believe that God who created Nigeria wants us to get it right. He has given us all that we need to make progress in this country.
“My prayer is that progress will not continue to elude us in Nigeria,” Obasanjo said, to a chorus of “Amen” from the packed auditorium.
The former President apologised for missing previous events by the church, saying it was because of the traffic situation from Abeokuta to Lagos.
”Let me apologise. On a number of occasions I’ve been invited here. I made efforts on the occasions. I underrated what traffic would be like between Lagos and Abeokuta. I think the last one I was very much on the way. After five hours I had to go back. I apologise,” he said.