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Friday, February 26, 1999 Published at 22:27 GMT


Obasanjo: Political reform first

General Olusegun Obasanjo, one of the two contenders in Saturday's presidential elections in Nigeria, called for a reform of Nigerian politics in an interview broadcast on Nigerian television on Thursday. The following are excerpts from the interview.

We have to put our politics in order so that we can put our economy in order. I believe, we really need to have political stability, political involvement. You will find that nobody... will come into a politically chaotic situation to invest, and really, unless we have massive investment into our economy, we are not going to get out of the morass.

Wherever you go in this country today, I find dissatisfaction. People are either complaining of marginalisation, or oppression, or injustice of one kind or the other.

Now, while we are addressing these issues... it makes everybody feel that he has a stake, he is involved, then we can address the economy...

Need for investment

We cannot get this economy up and moving again without it being energised - energised with investment. What we have had over the past 10 years... is a lot of disinvestment...

When we now get people, who want to invest.... what do they look for? They look for a conducive environment for investment, where corruption is not the order of the day; where life and property are safe; where you can bring your money in genuinely and legitimately, make profit, and you can take your profit out genuinely and legitimately; where you can go without any handicap to look for work to do and you do it not because of who you know, but because of what you know...

Foreign policy review

What is the purpose of our foreign policy? The welfare, the well being of our country and our citizens, and our security...

So, for me, it is our immediate neighbours first, because you cannot talk of your own welfare and well-being and your security when your immediate neighbour is not feeling secure...

Now, how do you play your leadership role? That is the issue. Is it by making yourself the policeman of the region or the subregion, whether you are wanted or not? Is it by making yourself the firefighters of the region, no matter how the fire is brought about?

I wonder. I will expect that we will play very positive and constructive leadership role in West Africa, and we have done that before, particularly, in the economic area. That was what brought about the creation of Ecowas [Economic Community of West African States] and our membership of it.

Now, I don't know whether we are not in a no-win situation in these places that we are. But, all I will say is this: When I become the president of Nigeria, the situation will be studied very, very carefully; and I assure you that Nigerian troops will not remain anywhere a day longer than they should remain...

Fuel shortages

Some of these refineries are being repaired. Wherever the government has or they have got to, when we come in we will continue and complete repairs. The depots will be maintained... and they will be used. Now once that is done, problem of fuel shortage will be no more...

Then we are more of a gas country than we are of oil country. We are flaring our gas. The gas we are flaring can be used as a source of energy, and it should be used as a source of energy...

Tackling corruption

Nigerians are very sceptical... about government because government has not played it fair with Nigerians, fair and simple_

Now you see what happens is that you make it difficult for subsequent governments to operate. It takes them more time. But it is not corruption alone that makes people sceptical about government. It is the totality of the performance of government...

Now what will I do? One, corruption needs to be taken care of from two directions. From the point of view of those who take and from the point of giver. The giver and the taker are both guilty...

So because if we can take care of the taking from this side, we must make sure that somebody takes care of the giving at the other side.

I take it that the present administration has told us they are doing something, and they will report on what they are doing...

If for instance, they have located Nigerian money or property somewhere which needs to be recovered...and they hand that over to me or to us, I will be responsible to say, well, I will not continue with the attempt to recover.

So, your question is: Will I probe? I will not set out to probe just for the sake of witch-hunting. That is not what I will do.

BBC Monitoring (http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk), based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.



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