Former Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, has identified poor implementation of development policies by African governments as a big impediment to the prosperity of the continent.
The former President said this in Lagos on Wednesday at the public presentation of the book ‘Making Africa Work’, co-authored by Obasanjo, Greg Mills, Jeffrey Herbst and Davies Dickie, all of the Brenthurst Foundation.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Obasanjo, who chairs the foundation, said African governments were never in want of sound development policies, but most of them suffered setbacks owing to little or no implementation, using Nigeria as an example.
He blamed the situation on lack of political will by leaders, poor funding and lack of continuity in governance.
Obasanjo said some ambitious policies were never executed because African countries lacked the resources to implement them.
He also said leaders did not muster the right political will to implement some policies designed to address specific development challenges.
The ex-president said the penchant of African leaders to reverse the working policies of their predecessors was another problem.
He recalled that some of the reforms of his last administration, as good as they were, were reversed by successive administrations, which affected the course of development.
Obasanjo said others like pension reforms could not be reversed because they had become so entrenched in the system.
“Why do we have the problem of implementation? We are not short of good policies.
“In fact, when you go to government offices or the offices of international organisations, you will see dozens and hundreds of policy recommendations.
“So, what is the problem? I will say the problem is mainly due to leadership, lack of continuity in governance and finance.
“Let me give you specific examples in Nigeria. We came up with something called NEEDS. The idea is to fast track the development of the country: political, economic, infrastructural and so on. It contained ideas that the states could take from to facilitate their own development.
“So what happened? We have done the first phase but the administration coming after us discontinued without really understanding what it meant. So, lack of continuity coupled with finance and lack of political will are some of the problems,” he said.
The former President urged African countries to be more determined about their development goals to propel prosperity.
He urged African nations to fight poverty and create opportunities through wealth creation and employment generation.
In his speech, Gov Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos commended Obasanjo and his co-authors for the piece.
Ambode, represented by his Deputy, Mrs. Idiat Adebule, said the book contained points that could propel the continent’s development, if detailed attention was paid to it.
He said Lagos was key to the development of the country and his administration was doing everything to make the state the third largest economy on Africa in no distant time.
“I believe Nigeria will work better if Lagos, the fifth largest economy in Africa works, and our administration is committed to the vision of making Lagos the third largest economy in tandem with some of the principles expounded in the book,” he said.
Jeffrey, in a speech, said Nigeria could witness great development if it addressed some of the barriers to sustainable development.