Obasanjo: All of us in Africa are sitting on a keg of gun powder

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Monday said
as long as adequate attention is not paid to youth
unemployment, “all of us in Africa are sitting on a keg
of gun powder”.
Obasanjo said this while playing host to Marcel de
Souza, president, Economic Community of West African
States (ECOWAS) Commission, at his hilltop mansion in
Abeokuta, Ogun state.
He lamented over the situation where African countries
depend on food supply from foreign countries,
wondering why a solution could not be proffered to the
issue of starvation on the continent.
“I have maintained that all of us in West Africa, and
indeed in Africa, are sitting on a keg of gun powder for
as long as we do not pay adequate attention to youth
unemployment,” he said.
“A situation where more than 50 per cent of our youths
are unemployed is extremely dangerous.
“We now have a situation in part of West Africa where
people are dying of starvation. Is it that we are not
producing enough food? Or if we are producing, are
they not evenly distributed?
“It is shameful because that has led us to be begging
international communities for supply of food to West
Africa. It is not right.”
The former president also said that a deeper economic
integration among members of the ECOWAS would
gradually stem the tide of youths’ unemployment in the
Obasanjo said it was high time the organisation started
using single currency, saying the introduction of single
currency by West African states would promote
economic integration and progress within the region.
“We have decided that our unit of currency will be ‘eco’,
let us now start using eco, let eco become our unit of
currency,” he said.
“Single currency unit for ECOWAS states will bring
about more development and growth among the
He stressed that economic integration of West African
countries would guarantee development of the sub-
He contended that ECOWAS’s founding fathers never
envisaged that internal conflicts would so much engage
the sub-region’s attention.
“ECOWAS was established41 years ago, the expectation
of all of us was very high, I think we will not be fair to
ourselves if we do not say to ourselves we have not
moved as fast as we expected,” he said.
“We must tell ourselves the truth that there has not
been enough political will on our part to move the sub-
regional organisation as fast and as far as we should
have done.”
He advocated a reform that would enable member
countries to move beyond movement of goods and
The former president, however, declared that he would
always make himself available for the ECOWAS
“I will continue to make myself available in the service
of ECOWAS, wherever you think my services will be
needed, call upon me and am ready,” he said.
“What is important is that these communities of 320
million people will be lifted up, these communities
should be marching along and we should get rid of
internal conflicts.”
Earlier, de-Souza said he was in Abeokuta to introduce
himself to Obasanjo, as the newly appointed president
of the commission and to also get his advice and
orientation on matters concerning ECOWAS sub-region.
He emphasised that he was inclined to visit Obasanjo
because the former Nigerian leader had always showed
commitment to ECOWAS, adding that he came
purposely to seek guidance.
“Obasanjo is a special ECOWAS envoy to Guinea-
Bissau, we have come to also find out if Obasanjo has
come out with any solution to the crisis in Guinea-
Bissau,” he said.

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