Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, on Sunday, has said it is not the intention of God for Nigeria to be a poor country, saying the situation of the country should be blamed on its political leadership.
He said it was lamentable that Nigeria had not taken advantage of science and technology to attain self-sufficiency in food production.
The former president stated this at a lecture organised to mark his 86th birthday in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
He said, “God has created Nigeria for a great purpose. At independence, the world did not refer to Nigeria as giant in Africa, no, they refered to Nigeria as giant in the sun; Nigeria was more than giant in Africa, it was giant in the sun. But not only have we not been giant in the sun, we have not even been giant in Africa. Some people called us giant with clay feet.
“That is not what God has created Nigeria to be; that is what we Nigerians have inadvertently or advertently made Nigeria to be. But will Nigeria continue to be so, I believe no. So, we must continue to hold ourselves together, pray and understand all the factors and the elements that are making us not to be the giant, but the dwarf of Africa and how we can get out of it and I believe and pray that we will get out of it.”
On food security, the ex-president said, “Until Ukraine war, I really did not realise how much we in Africa, almost all of us in Africa depend on the Russians and the Ukrainians for wheat. Wheat, which is used to make bread, is only carbohydrate. Are there no carbohydrate foodstuffs that can be produced in Africa that we can be self-sufficient in? I know some of our countries cannot produce wheat and this is the sort of thing that IITA has been doing.
“Science and technology has given us all that we need for food and nutrition security in Africa what is left is political will and political action.”
Earlier in his lecture, titled “The Complex Dynamics in Achieving Food and Nutrition Security in Africa,” a former Director-General of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Dr Nteranya Sanginga, lamented that African countries, despite being blessed with fertile land, still spend billions of dollars importing food.
Sanginga said by spending N11bn annually to import food, Nigeria was improving other countries’ Internally Generated Revenue to its own detriment.
He said for Africa to ensure food security, governments must show more political will and determination.