Andries Combrink/File Photo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo says leaders do not have to wait for a disaster to happen before seeking solution.

Delivering a lecture at the AIG-Blavatnik school of government, University of Oxford, UK, on Monday, Obasanjo asked African leaders to be proactive.

He praised some African leaders for responding positively to the challenges in their countries.

Citing Côte D’Ivoire as an example, he said President Allassane Outarra has changed the narrative of his country by posting a double-digit GDP growth and exporting electricity to neighbouring Ghana and Mali.

“You don’t wait for disaster to strike before seeking solution! You must be proactive,” the former president said.

“With some understanding by all of us, I do not wish to theorise on the concept of leadership and how it makes or mars an institution, people or activity. I also make no apologies that Africa may well have been caught between the vicissitudes of attempted physical, human and economic development rigmarole.

“But the reality today is that at a time, most developed economies are in crisis, a lot of African economies are on the upswing. President Allassane Outarra is focusing on transformative potential in Cote d’Ivoire; with economic comeback after his election in 2011 led to the death of over 3,000 Ivoriens.

“He has changed the narrative to get ahead of the economic curve by posting a double-digit GDP growth, exporting electricity to neighbouring Ghana and Mali and exporting processed versions of Ivory coast’s rich raw materials and agricultural produce like cocoa, cotton, rubber and palm oil and making his country live with the largest percentage of middle-class market in all of Africa .

“Even the most undiscerning observer will agree that the last decade and a half have been principally reasonably different for Africa and Africans. The difference has been leadership.

“We have undertaken far-reaching reforms which is meant to remove the old order and establish a new order and which should enable Africa move in tandem with the rest of the world.”

Obasanjo said he has continued to reach out to world leaders even after his eight years in office in the bid to change the perception of the country.

“I was elected as President of Nigeria in February of 1999 and was inaugurated as president in May 1999, when Nigeria was a pariah nation. Everywhere people had poor opinion about us.

“We were scorned at and viewed as a liability in the comity of nations. The situation demanded that I worked to stave off that perception. As a country under political transformation, I applied myself scrupulously to the task at hand. For the eight years that I served, I reached out to world leaders and continue to do so beyond my presidency.”

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