Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has listed what Nigeria should do to have access to $12 trillion “dormant funds”.
He said the Federal Government must endorse the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AFCFTA) to tap into the funds earmarked for Africa’s development.
The former President spoke Sunday at a programme, tagged: “Conversation with Olusegun Obasanjo” and moderated by former British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) broadcaster Mark Eddo at the Al Manara Conference Center, in Cairo, Egypt.
According to him, out of the $14 trillion that has been announced, only $2 trillion has been put to use, pointing out that $12 trillion “is sitting idle” waiting to be accessed.
Insisiting that Nigeria has no choice than to endorse the AfCFTA, the former President said: “The money is there; it is about how Africa can access that money. The amount of money needed is sitting somewhere dormant; it’s about $12 trillion. The money is dormant and it can only go to where it is needed. I was told that $14 trillion has been printed, about $2 trillion is generating interest and about $12 trillion is sitting idle.”
Obasanjo was responding to a statement that Egyptian President Al’Sisi said that lack of funds was hindering Africa’s advancement.
He said: “You can imagine Africa getting $1trillion of that money every year. If our leaders can get that money routed to Africa, it will be quite useful and Africa will benefit from it.”
The former President praised the efforts of those who packaged the Intra-African Trade Fair, saying the success it has garnered should be shared by all, and not himself alone.
“The credit must not be given to me only. All the members, and particularly to former President Ekra, Professor Benedict Oramah and Afreximbank,” he said, adding that the lessons learnt will be useful in planning for the next fair.
Obasanjo said he took time to visit the exhibition stands, observing that Nigeria had a huge presence in the fair.
He said: “This is a one stop shop window for Africans to know what Africa has. Here you’ll not only see, you will feel, hear and even eat.
“I believe that we have started, we have put our hands in the plough and we will not go back, so we can say IATF is getting better and better. The issue of finance is not what worries me.”
Obasanjo expressed sadness that Nigeria was foot-dragging on the endorsement of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), wondering how Africa can’s economy can grow when countries like Nigeria were absent, pointing out that with, or without Nigeria, Africa will move on.
“It is a great pity for Nigeria and Africa that at the time Nigeria should be at the table, Nigeria is not there at AfCTFA, especially with the final negotiation which was led by Nigeria. At the point of signing, Nigeria developed cold feet. I just have to say, better late than never,” Obasanjo said.
He described as unfortunate that was yet to bad to endorse the treaty, pointing out, however, that “whether Nigeria is there or not, Africa will go on.”
He said he went through the pavilion, saying “Nigeria’s delegation was great,” wondering, “how can you be talking of African trade when you’re not there? You cannot absent yourself when the rest of Africa was there,” he stated.
Obasanjo, however, expressed optimism that whatever may have gone wrong, Nigeria would return and join itself with the rest of Africa.
“So what has gone wrong? I think understanding. I think the correct understanding will come. In all honesty, Nigeria will soon join this group,” Obasanjo said, stressing, “we have no choice.”