POVERTY, GREATEST CHALLENGE FACING NIGERIANS -MABOGUNJE
Professor Akin Mabogunje, former Pro- Chancellor Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State yesterday in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital declared that poverty was the greatest challenges facing Nigerians.
Mabogunje however believed that it was the responsibility of the traditional rulers across the country to alleviate the sufferings of their subjects.
Speaking at a book launch, entitled 'Measure of Grace' an autobiography of Akinlawon Mabogunje' organized by the Foundation for Development and Environment Initiatives (FDI) held at the Trenchard Hall of the University of Ibadan, as part of activities marking his 80th birthday celebration, the foremost geographer also described Nigeria as 'work in progress.'
At an occasion which was attended by the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, former governors, traditional rulers, chiefs and other well meaning individuals, Mabogunje said: 'The greatest enemy that Nigeria has today is poverty.
The country, as a matter of fact, is work in progress. We make institutional mistake that we did not give due empowerment to the ordinary Nigerians.' He observed that for the country to really move forward, the local government administration needed reconstruction, adding that the councils had been turned to conduit pipe for siphoning government money from the national treasury. 'The present local government constitution as it is now is simply getting allocation from Abuja and it is not about ensuring that the people at the local level are empowered,' he said.
According to him, the constitution of local government administration in the country should be first thing to do rather than being the last to do. ' In Nigeria it was the characteristic of the leadership to play down on necessary things by putting the last thing first at the expense of the citizens'.
He added: 'The United States of America that we use as our focal point for development has the people as its strength, but that is not the situation in Nigerian context'.'It is my hope that the trend would be reversed. The other thing that dis-empowers the people is the failure to understand that the greatest asset that the people have is the land.' 'The strength of the country is not the big grammar that we speak in Abuja and at the national assembly that will move this country forward. It is until this country realizes this fact that we will be able to move forward in the globalised world, he stated. Earlier, former President Obasanjo had described the former University don as a true Nigerian who had contributed immensely to the development of the country.
The former president said that the autobiography of Mabogunje would be an exciting compendium to those who wanted to know more about the octogenarian.