My worry – former President Obasanjo

Obasanjo said that leaders on the continent must learn a lesson from the Arab Spring and take proactive measures to solve the unemployment crisis in the region.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has expressed worry over the army of unemployed youths in the country and on the African region, warning that it could be a disaster waiting to happen, if left unaddressed.

He spoke at the on-going Annual Meetings of the African Import-Export Bank (Afreximbank), in Abuja, yesterday.

He said that leaders on the continent must learn a lesson from the Arab Spring and take proactive measures to solve the unemployment crisis in the region.

His words, “I am a bit worried. I am worried because whatever we may think about our problems, my worry is about the youth anger and frustration going into explosion in any of the countries of Africa.

“If we can learn a lesson from the Arab Spring, demography should not be a disaster. It should be an advantage.”

He took on presidents whom he said were out of tune with present realities, without mentioning any name.

“The present realities of our leaders, some of them who have been in uniform are still there as leaders today. The way they are reacting to issues now is different from when they were in uniform.”

He said that political leaders must be realistic and aware of innovations and new technology around them.

On how to achieve the much needed accelerated growth in Africa, Chief Obasanjo said, “We need to be the architects of our own fortunes.

“ One of the things I wanted to do when I came out of Prison and became president was to get debt relief. Many people told me it was not possible. But at the end we achieved it. When the international community sees that you are doing the right thing, you are doing what you are supposed to do, you will have sympathy, they will support you.

“We did what the international community wanted us to do without much promptings from them and then they took us seriously,” he said.

He added that Africans must explore sources of aggregating investible funds from both within and outside the region.

According to him, “One of the problems that I faced as president was the people who has retired and there was no money to pay them pension. Some of them were dying at pension offices and all that. Then we decided to introduce the Contributory Pension Scheme. They last time I was told it had generated huge sums of money.

“This can be used for development in areas of projects investments through PPP not Public Private People Partnership PPPP.”

By PPPP, he was insinuating that such funds should not be stolen by corrupt public officials.

The former president urged African leaders to pay particular attention to educating and equipping the populace with requisite skills to contribute meaningfully to building their societies.

“If 50 per cent of the population are not educated, trained and given skills to help themselves and the society there is no way that the society can make the needed progress. Get all your human resources educated and equipped with skills so that everyone can make contributions to the development of the society,” he admonished.