I am a Product of the Rural Area – Obasanjo.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo say he is “a product of the rural area”, and this has helped him to understand that Nigeria cannot pull of of the current economic recession unless it returns to farming and trading.
Speaking as a special guest at the eight edition of the National Council on Industry, Trade and Investment (NCITI), Obasanjo urged the government to pay more attention to the informal sector, and in fact help out in formalising it.
“When members of council called on me this afternoon, I said three things that I would want to repeat. One, I believe it is fortuitous that we are having this meeting at this time when we are in a recession,” he said.
“Nothing will get us out of recession other than that we produce more and that we trade more. You have chosen this time to have this council on investment, trade, and industry, when we need to do more.
“I want to observe that here in Ogun state, is where you can learn how to trade, because we do nothing in this state more than farming and trading.”
Obasanjo said he, as a person, is a product of farming and trade, as his father was a farmer and his mother a trader.
“I am a product of the rural area and two things I know when I was growing up were farming and trading. My mother was a trader. They called her petty trader; she’s not a petty trader.
“Then they called her informal sector; I say she is not an informal sector. If you call her informal sector, formalise her, because she produced and traded, and my father produced on the farm.
“Second thing, vice president, and I appreciate what you are doing with the governor and the minister, we must use what we produce, we must eat what we produce, and that is what will get us out of recession to move us forward in our development and in fact get us on the path of accelerated growth.
“Finally, we need to provide the necessary infrastructure for internal trade and external trade. I did say that what experts have said about the statistic of intra-Africa trade is only 12 percent, intra-European trade 65 percent.
“We are far, far behind, and I believe that if the infrastructure is there and we are urging ourselves to produce more and we produce more, we would definitely be able to double intra-African trade in a period of 10 years.
“Even 25 percent is till well below what we should be aiming for; we should be aiming for 50 percent.”
Obasanjo urged Nigeria and the rest of Africa to make use of its waterways in ramping up trade across the continent.