Obasanjo Obasanj calls alls for speedy spee re­forms

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Billy Ntaote

FOR­MER Nige­rian Pres­i­dent Oluse­gun Obasanjo has urged the gov­ern­ment to “quickly and vol­un­tar­ily” im­ple­ment all nec­es­sary re­forms to ad­dress the coun­try’s pre­vail­ing po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity chal­lenges.

Obasanjo who vis­ited Maseru this week told the Le­sotho Times that the re­forms should be im­ple­mented with­out pres­sure “from out­side” if the coun­try is to achieve last­ing peace and sta­bil­ity.

The for­mer Nige­rian ruler said he was in Maseru on a two-day visit at the in­vi­ta­tion of the gov­ern­ment.

He would not give spe­cific de­tails about the in­vi­ta­tion although Trade and In­dus­try Min­is­ter Joshua Setipa said Gen­eral Obasanjo had been in­vited to ex­plore in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties in Le­sotho.

“I had an in­vi­ta­tion from the gov­ern­ment and I have found the visit very in­struc­tive,” Gen­eral Obasanjo said in an in­ter­view.

“I have met with the For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter, the Trade and In­dus­try Min­is­ter, the Deputy Prime Min­is­ter, the Prime Min­is­ter and His Majesty, King Let­sie III. And I am meet­ing the Min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture to­mor­row morn­ing (Tues­day) be­fore I leave the coun­try.

“The gov­ern­ment, of course, made me fairly aware of the on­go­ing se­cu­rity and po­lit­i­cal is­sues the coun­try is grap­pling with.”

He con­tin­ued: “I am also here for what I would call self-ed­u­ca­tion. It has been a plea­sure to be in­vited to Maseru. I haven’t been to Le­sotho since 1986 when I came here as co-chair of the Com­mon­wealth Em­i­nent Per­sons Group.”

Asked what he thought of Le­sotho’s po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity chal­lenges which have seen three main op­po­si­tion lead­ers — Thomas Tha­bane, Th­e­sele ‘Maserib­ane and Keketso Ran­tšo of the All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion, Ba­sotho Na­tional Party and Re­formed Congress of Le­sotho re­spec­tively — flee­ing into ex­ile, Gen­eral Obasanjo said it was up to Ba­sotho them­selves to re­solve what­ever chal­lenges they might be fac­ing.

“All the re­forms that are nec­es­sary will be im­ple­mented by the lead­er­ship of this coun­try. And they must do it as quickly as pos­si­ble, vol­un­tar­ily, with­out be­ing pres­sur­ized from out­side,” he said.

On his part, Mr Setipa said he in­vited Gen­eral Obasanjo three weeks ago and was happy that he re­sponded promptly.

The for­mer Nige­rian ruler owns Obasanjo Hold­ings Lim­ited whose sub­sidiaries are very strong play­ers in the agri­cul­ture, man­u­fac­tur­ing, prop­erty and media in­dus­tries in Nige­ria and neigh­bour­ing states. Mr Setipa says Le­sotho could also ben­e­fit from such in­vest­ments.

Mr Setipa said the gov­ern­ment could use Gen­eral Obasanjo to lure Nige­rian banks into in­vest­ing in Le­sotho.

Gen­eral Obasanjo was Nige­ria’s head of state be­tween 13 Fe­bru­ary 1976 and 1 Oc­to­ber 1979 and from 29 May 1999 to 29 May 2007, and has since been ap­pointed to lead or be part of sev­eral in­flu­en­tial in­ter­na­tional bod­ies.

“The rea­son I in­vited Gen­eral Obasanjo to Le­sotho was be­cause of his in­ter­est in in­vest­ing in poul­try farm­ing and his con­nec­tions to the bank­ing in­dus­try in Nige­ria which is strong enough to com­pete with South African-led com­mer­cial banks op­er­at­ing in Le­sotho today,” Mr Setipa said.

“He is in­ter­ested in poul­try farm­ing and has large farms in Nige­ria and other West and East African states and we want him to also con­sider in­vest­ing in Le­sotho. There are op­por­tu­ni­ties here for him to tap into.

“Strong Nige­rian banks can also be eas­ily at­tracted to open busi­nesses in Le­sotho with his as­sis­tance. Nige­ria is sec­ond in Africa, if not at par with South Africa, as far as their bank­ing busi­ness is con­cerned. We think there can be an op­por­tu­nity here for them.”

The min­is­ter fur­ther em­pha­sised the need for African na­tions to en­gage more in trade with each other, adding hav­ing close ties with Gen­eral Obasanjo could “open av­enues for such op­por­tu­ni­ties”.

Mr Setipa ex­plained: “We are a big con­sumer of cot­ton from many other African coun­tries and why can’t we buy from Nige­ria? There is a whole, big range of goods we can trade with each other.”

Mr Setipa said Gen­eral Obasanjo had en­gaged in “very frank dis­cus­sions” with the gov­ern­ment on a wide range of is­sues, but mostly eco­nomic growth.

“His ad­vice to the gov­ern­ment was much ap­pre­ci­ated from those frank dis­cus­sions. And from a Trade and In­vest­ment per­spec­tive, I am very much in­ter­ested to have him in­vest in this coun­try,” said Mr Setipa.

Asked if the op­po­si­tion knew about Gen­eral Obasanjo’s visit, ABC sec­re­tary gen­eral Sa­monyane Nt­sekele said: “No; we are not aware of the visit. All I heard from ru­mours was that he was here on busi­ness, which had noth­ing to do with our con­cerns, top among them the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the SADC rec­om­men­da­tions.”

The SADC rec­om­men­da­tions fol­lowed an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the 25 June 2015 fa­tal shoot­ing of for­mer army com­man­der Maa­parankoe Ma­hao.

The chair­per­son of the African Union (AU) Com­mis­sion Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma has since urged Le­sotho to “ur­gently im­ple­ment the rec­om­men­da­tions of the (Jus­tice Mphaphi) Phumaphi re­port with a view to en­sur­ing last­ing peace and sta­bil­ity in Le­sotho”.

In a Press state­ment re­leased on 16 May 2016 and posted on the AU web­site, Ms Dlamini-zuma em­pha­sized the need for Le­sotho to im­ple­ment the SADC rec­om­men­da­tions to fos­ter democ­racy and the rule of law.

FOR­MER Nige­rian Pres­i­dent Oluse­gun Obasanjo.

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