GDP growth not good measure of citizens' Welfare, says Obasanjo
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo said in Dutse on Wednesday that Nigerians should not rely on the Gross Domestic Product rates as anchor for measuring the wellbeing of the populace.
According to Obasanjo, there is usually a disconnect between these GDP rates and the actual standard of living of the people.
Nigeria's GDP growth rate has averaged about 7 per cent in past few years, but the people continue to groan under grueling economic hardship. growth
Obasanjo, speaking as the special guest of honour at the opening ceremony of the ongoing First Economic and Investment Summit in Jigawa State, said he would see more emphasis on the welfare of the people and the state of the economy should be das driven by the amount of investments that are capable of creating employment.
'States should invest more in projects that will bring economic wealth for the people and states should be judged by the amount of investments that have improved the livelihood of the people, and not by the growth in GDP, as increase in GDP does not translate to actual wealth creation and wellbeing of the people.' he said.
Obasanjo showered encomiums on Governor Sule Lamido for his development strides in Jigwa State in the six years under his stewardship.
He particularly noted the vast improvement in the infrastructural architecture of the state.
According to him, as a result of the governors hard work and commitment to the development of the state, the state which nobody wanted to visit is now a centre of attraction.
He cited the underground drainage system that is currently going on in the state and for other infrastructure being put in place.
He urged other state governments to invest in projects that would benefit Nigerians and in those products that could be legally exported to neighbouring countries.
Nigeria, he said, remained a choice destination for foreign investors, and urged more foreign investors to avail themselves of the opportunities in various sectors of the nation's economy.
Obasanjo said Nigeria was endowed with abundant natural and human resources, which could be transformed to the social and economic benefits to the people.
'Nigeria is a land of opportunities and it is blessed with all it takes to develop; it has been stagnant for so long; it is about time to change these opportunities to actuality.
'There is no reason why we should not do that; we must invest in education to save the larger population of the country or else our population will become a liability,' he said.
The former president said for Nigeria to attain sustainable development, children must be trained, educated and be skilled in every sector to be self-reliant.
According to him, 'I will rather invest in education for my children than build houses for them because if I do not invest in education for them, the educated ones will rise some day to buy the houses from them.'
He explained that such improvement could be translated to provide employment opportunities, wealth creation and poverty reduction in the society.
Obasanjo stressed the need for investments in the area of agriculture and tourism, and specifically mentioned sugar, rice and cassava as viable products for investment.
Nigeria, he said, had done pilot project on agriculture in Katsina and Kebbi States, which has started yielding results.
He also advised state governments to invest in tourism and train people who will be knowledgeable to narrate the history of Nigerians to the outside world.
The former president commended the governor for his vision, adding that he saw that vision long ago, hence he appointed him as one of his foreign ministers during his tenure.
He described Jigawa as a state with everything to attract businessmen to invest in it, adding that with purposeful leadership and high sense of commitment on the part of leaders, it would be easier for a government to achieve its aim socially, politically and economically.
Obasanjo said Governor Lamido had shown by his achievements in office that he was the right person to lead the state.
He said, 'You people of Jigawa, once again, I congratulate you and I congratulate myself; because if you can say, yes, Obasanjo forced this one (Governor Lamido) on us, it is a good forcing.
'It comes to one thing that you will say, you can help anybody to find a job but you cannot help anybody to do the job. In this case, we found a job for Sule Lamido. Sule Lamido was ready, willing, able and competent to do the job.'
The relationship between Mr Obasanjo and Governor Lamido dates as far back as 1999 when the former President appointed the governor; Foreign Minister causing friction with the governor's patron Abubakar Rimi who had been turned down as Obasanjo's Vice-Presidential partner and was lobbying for the Foreign Minister job.
In May 2003, after the Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP) had lost the elections in Jigawa State, Governor Lamido claimed that the polls had been rigged in favour of the All Nigeria People's Party (ANPP).
In August 2006 it was reported that the North West zone of the PDP had rejected Mr Lamido as the candidate for the 2007 governorship election.
However, in April 2007, Lamido contested and won the governorship election in Jigawa Stat
Obasanjo explained that for any country to prosper economically, it should provide an enabling environment that could attract investors.
Speaking earlier, a member of the British parliament, Lord Paul Boateng, said Nigeria was passing through one of the most trying moments in its chequered history due to lack of credible leadership despite the availability of solid minerals and enough land mass and other resources that would have made it one of the leading nations in the world.
Boateng described the Jigawa State initiative as worthwhile because investment that would lead to economic prosperity would provide jobs for the youth to realise their potential.