Nigeria’s former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has identified corruption, insecurity, and infrastructure decay as major problems confronting the Africa.
Mr. Obasanjo said this at the inauguration of newly-established Africa Institute at the Valparaiso University, Indiana, U.S.A, in his honour on Saturday.
Mr. Obasanjo said that almost every country in Africa had one form of security problem or the other, pointing out that insecurity would not allow development to thrive.
On the security challenges facing Nigeria, the former president said that government must properly identify the remote causes of the activities of the Boko Haram sect. He stressed the need for more attention to be placed on the improvement of infrastructure within the continent.
He said the issue of human development should not be such that the individuals were allowed to leave the continent and be servicing other land.
The former president, however, called on Nigerians living abroad to return home where their knowledge would best be utilised.
“We must develop people and retain them, we must encourage most of them that are in Diaspora, to move back home,” Obasanjo said.
On corruption, the former Nigerian leader said that the issue of corruption was very serious that should not be undermined, adding that it was virtually in every aspect of life.
“If you pretend that there is no corruption, the world already knows there is corruption,” he said.
While commending the efforts of some African leaders in carrying out reforms that had made the continent an emerging economy in the 21st century, Obasanjo said Western economists earlier ruled out Africa as a living continent about 10 years ago.
He explained that some of the economists had even described the 21st century as the best for Africa.
As part of reforms to Nigeria’s economy while in office, Mr. Obasanjo disclosed that when he took over in 1999, the country owed close to 35 billion dollars.
He also said that the country was spending about 3 billion dollars annually to service debts.
“I decided that we should seek debts relief. I also decided that we would go for deep reforms. Our creditors took us very serious and granted us debts relief.
“The reserve of 3.7 billion dollars that I met in 1999 grew to well over 45 billion dollars by the time I left office.
“After we paid over 12 billion dollars, we cleared the debts slate. Nigeria was not the only country moving in that direction,” he said.
Mr. Obasanjo commended the university for honouring him, saying that the establishment of the institute was quite timely in view of global development. He also said that the situation around the globe called for nations to work together.
Earlier, the President of the University, Mark Heckler, said the exemplary leadership of Mr. Obasanjo in Africa and in Nigeria was a driving force for the choice of honouring him.
Mr. Heckler said that the university was established in 1859, stressing that the establishment of the Africa Institute was a dream fulfilled.
Prof. Ade Adefuye, the Nigeria Ambassador to the U.S., also commended the University “for giving honour to whom honour is due.”
Mr. Adefuye described Mr. Obasanjo as someone who had contributed greatly to the development of Nigeria.
Present at the event were Ewa Ewa, Chief Financing Officer, Illinois Human Rights Commission; Bayo Ojo, former Attorney General of the Federation; and Frank Nweke, Director-General, Nigerian Economic Summit Group.
Others were Julius Okojie, Executive Secretary, National University Commission; and Nigeria Consul-General in New York, Habib Habu.
The Africa Institute at the Valparaiso University would serve as a cultural exchange centre between it and Nigeria in particular and Africa at large.
It will also serve as an exchange and resource centre for professional studies of West Nigerian/African commerce and culture among students, artists, writers, educators and politicians.