He also threw his weight behind the sales of some public assets but also warned that it must not be sold to cabals, adding that the number of shares an individual or corporate entity should buy in such public assets to be sold should be regulated.
He said this on Tuesday in his goodwill message at the opening session of a two-day National Council of Finance and Economic Development conference held at the Green Legacy Resort, Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta.
“For me, we have brought it on ourselves, we don’t have to wring our hands and say ‘where are we? In a simple layman’s language, the situation is that we are spending more than we are earning. We have not been able to save, so that we can go and take from what we have saved.
“If you are spending more than you are earning, you will have to spend less, you earn more and you borrow.
“For us, we are to do the three as quickly as possible, we must borrow and we must go to the people that will give us loan with reasonable interest.
“You may do it with the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund. I don’t say we must not go to them. When I was in government, I never say no to them, but don’t do their bidding. Out there, there is money but people will not part with their money unless you are doing the right thing.”
The former President said that Nigeria must encourage production to earn more and increase its revenue.
He noted that since the nation was not in control of oil, it should therefore diversify on the things it could control.
Obasanjo, who harped on the need to develop agriculture, frowned on policies which tended to turn the country into a dumping ground for other countries’ products.
The former President suggested that the government should consider selling some shares of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation to members of the public, but with a note of caution.
“I do not see why 48 per cent of the NNPC cannot be privatised. “I think the problem is in the coinage “selling of asset” as if we want to throw out our inheritance.
“What we are actually doing by that is simply reorganising.
“It should however be done transparently and let it actually go public and not to cabals, their relations and friends.
“This is always the fear of Nigerians when issues like this arise.”
The former President expressed confidence in the ability of the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, saying that “she is doing a marvelous job in a difficult situation and that only time can prove her right.”
The minister, who spoke earlier, noted that the Federal Government had till date invested over N700bn to stimulate growth in the economy.