Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday queried the squandering of $35 billion Nigeria foreign reserves that he left in office in 2007, saying the countryÕs leaders and people need to be prudent to get out of its economic woes currently confronting the country. The former President who spoke at his investiture as the First Grand Patron of Nigeria- China Business Council (NCBC) held in Lagos said Nigeria should borrow a leaf from the Chinese economy that is designed for sustainable growth and development.
He bemoaned the shrink in the nationÕs foreign reserves, saying while China was working assiduously to improve its economy and foreign reserves, Nigeria was busy reducing its own. The elder statesman said, ÒWe left what we call excess crude, letÕs build it for raining day, up to 35billion dollars; within three years, the 35 billion dollars disappeared. Whether the money disappeared or-like the governor said-it was shared, the fact remains that $35 billion disappeared from the foreign reserve I left behind in office.Ó Obasanjo lauded the Chinese government for building its economy and foreign reserves. His words: ÒLet me say without fear or favour and without being diplomatic.
By the middle of the century, China will rule the world. There is nothing anybody can do about it. They have what it takes. They have dedication and population that is becoming more educated, skilled and exposed the more, to technology .They will. Every six to seven years, the economic growth will double again. That is why they are powers to reckon with.
When we left that money, we thought we were leaving it for the raining day. But my brother said the rain is not falling now . But the fact is that when the rain is falling, we will have nothing to cover our heads because we have blown it off. The Chinese do not think that way.Ó The former President, therefore, urged Nigerian leaders and the citizenry to learn to save for the future. He added that the nation has a lot to learn from China, urging Nigerians to be patient to allow for economic growth. He stressed that Nigeria has potentials for economic growth if only the nation's leaders could try and get things right.
What does the Chinese have that we do not have?, he asked rhetorically. ÒWhile Europe is wobbling and fumbling, thank God for that, America since 2008 has not come out of economic recession. I doubt if it will not affect ObamaÕs second tenure Ò. Prominent Nigerians who attended the former PresidentÕs investiture include the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Edem Duke; his Foreign Affairs counterpart, Ambassador Gbenga Ashiru; the Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, his Gombe State counterpart, Ibrahim Dankwabo; a former Minister of Trade, Ambassador Idris Waziri, and a former Nigerian Ambassador to United Nations, Arthur Mbanefo, who served as chairman of the occasion.