Hate or love him, he will continue to bare his mind on issues of national importance. As a former military head of state and later president of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s experience and wisdom cannot be wished away so, whenever he speaks, there is an iota of wisdom even though sometimes Nigerians have had just cause to doubt his sincerity or motives on issues.
Therefore, it came as no surprise when the former President on Thursday said the introduction of the N5,000 note would kill production and affect small businesses negatively.
Obasanjo, who spoke at a roundtable advocacy forum organised by the Institute of Directors, Nigeria, in Lagos, said the way the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Lamido Sanusi, was fighting inflation by removing money from circulation was improper.
While speaking on the cost of doing business in the country, Obasanjo called on stakeholders and government agencies to rise up to the challenge.
He said some observers had suggested that the Vision 2020 blueprint was somewhat of an ambitious agenda, which was unrealisable considering the daunting challenges confronting businesses in the country.
Obasanjo said the 2012 annual report of the International Finance Corporation and the World Bank publication titled, ‘Doing business in a more transparent world,’ noted that a record number of African countries took decisive steps to encourage more local entrepreneurs to come into the formal economy over the past 12 years.
He said, “Across the continent, 15 countries lowered barriers to entry for new businesses, 23 facilitated access to credit, and seven made it easier to pay taxes. Nigeria is not in any of these leagues.
“In its 2008 report, Nigeria ranked 108 out of 178 countries and in the space of four years, we rank 137 out of 183 countries measured. This is a damning report on our business environment and, therefore, calls for more concerted efforts by various stakeholders on how to ensure that this trend is reversed and the Nigeria business environment is made more conducive for investments and less costly for businesses to thrive. We cannot aim for 2020 if we do not halt the downward spiral.”
Perhaps if other former presidents lend their voice to the ongoing debate on “project cure”, it might give some credence and weight to the outcry by Nigerians against the planned introduction of N5000 note and other currency review policy that don’t seem to tally with the mood and aspirations of generality of Nigerians.