Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has nothing but good things to say about his administration, proudly declaring that he acheived all his goals during his time as Nigeria’s president between 1999 and 2007.
Obasanjo who was in commercial city of Lagos to deliver a lecture on leadership at a forum held by the Nigeria Leadership Initiative, credits his administration with holding the country together at a critical time, securing debt relief and improving Nigeria’s image in the world.
Comparing his time in power during the military era and his return to power in a democratic government, Obasanjo said: “When I was military Head of State, my main concern was how do we forge a united country and a self reliant country? So, the constitution was very important. We established a constitution that helped us to achieve that.
“When I came back in 1999, some people came to me and said I will be the last president of Nigeria. There were different groups at that time; there were the Egbesu Boys, the OPC and the Arewa. Some people thought the centre would not hold together. The need then again was how do we hold the people together and how do we pay off our debts?”
He added, “Nigeria was a pariah state, which nobody wanted to touch. But by the time we left, Nigeria was the darling of the world. So (for that) I don’t think there was anything I wanted to achieve that I didn’t achieve.”
The only flaw to his otherwise flawless administration, Obasanjo said, is his inability to fix the power sector, which he blames on a lack of funds.
“If I had had money, I would have started working on power earlier than we started. People have forgotten that when I came in, there was little funds to do much. But then we started the National Integrated Power Project and the oil companies that were supposed to assist us were not forthcoming. I think it was only Agip that built something,” he said.
He especially hailed his handling of the nation’s debt.
“At the time we owed about $35bn. But by the time I left, our reserve was about $45bn. We had paid all our debts. Our debt sum, all that we owed was about $3bn. And we had about $35bn in what we call the excess crude account for a rainy day. And when we left they said the rain has come and cleared the account,” he said.
The former president, recently critcised for labelling lawmakers rogues and robbers, was equally criticised for his own corrupt practices.