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Tinubu’s policies necessary but wrongly implemented – Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday rated President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s one year in office low, saying his administration has failed to find the right way to handle the economy to engender confidence and trust for investors to start investing in Nigeria.

Obasanjo described Tinubu’s policies on fuel subsidy removal and exchange rates as necessary but “wrongly implemented.”

Obasanjo’s position is coming as Tinubu’s government rolled out activities marking his one year anniversary.

The Ota farmer zeroed in on three decisions of the administration which include fuel subsidy, exchange rates and dealing with the military coup in Niger Republic.

His media aide, Kehinde Akinyemi, in a statement issued in Abeokuta on Sunday, quoted  Obasanjo to have spoken at a colloquium on ‘Nigeria’s Development: Navigating the Way Out of the Current Economic Crisis and Insecurity’, delivered at the Paul Aje Colloquium (PAC) in Abuja.

He lashed out at Tinubu’s government, saying “the present administration has not found the right way to handle the economy to engender confidence and trust for investors to start trooping in.”

The former president lamented that Total Energy had invested 6 billion dollars in Angola “instead of Nigeria.”

Obasanjo said “Today, the government has taken three decisions, two of which are necessary but wrongly implemented and have led to impoverization of the economy and of Nigerians. These are removal of subsidy, closing the gap between black market and official rates of exchange and the third is dealing with a military coup in Niger Republic.

“The way forward is production and productivity which belief and trust in government leadership will engender. No shortcut to economic progress but hard work and sweat.”

To him, “Economy does not obey orders, not even military orders. I know that. If we get it right, in two years, we will begin to see the light beyond the tunnel. It requires a change of characteristics, attributes and attitude by the leadership at all levels to gain the  confidence and trust of investors who have alternatives.

To conclude on the economy, “tinkering with the exchange rate is not the answer. The answer is consistency and continuity in policy to ensure stability and predictability. That way, we will be sure of incentivizing domestic and foreign investment.

“There must be honesty and transparency in government dealings and contracts and not lying with deception about these issues. When the government is seen as pursuing the right policy, the private sector will go for production and productivity.”

Obasanjo also took a swipe at those against his position on the much touted refurbished refinery at Port Harcourt, Rivers State, describing them as “sycophants and spin doctors”.

He declared that such people failed to remember that the attempt that was made in 2007 to partly privatise the refineries was made by him after a thorough study of the situation, hence his knowledge and better understanding of the situation before making his decision late last year.

In a swift reaction, Bayo Onanuga, the Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy said the former president was entitled to his opinion.

In a terse message sent to our reporter, the presidential aide said: “Baba is entitled to his opinion. But I learnt he also acknowledged that the policies are good policies.”

Onanuga also called on Nigerians to be patient with the president and his polices, saying, “the Tinubu administration shall take us to the promised land.”