Olusegun Obasanjo, former President, on Saturday said poverty in Nigeria came as a result of the “choice made consciously or unconsciously by past leaders.”
Obasanjo made the observation at the seventh convocation of the National Open University of Nigeria in Abuja where he also obtained a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Christian theology.
The former president noted that the first step towards getting Nigeria out of poverty is to make the right choice of leaders who understand development.
He stressed that leaders in the country must be ready to step on the toes of their close associates if they must realise their change agenda.
According to Obasanjo, “Back when I was a student, I travelled to the North East for my field work and I was exposed to the situations in that geopolitical zone.
“I interviewed people from all strata of the society and it enriched my knowledge. I came to the realisation that poverty is not the lot of anybody in Nigeria. It is a choice made consciously or unconsciously by our leaders.
“The beginning of getting Nigeria out of poverty into wealth creation and employment generation is in our choice of leaders who understand what development means and what it entails.
“These are leaders who are ready to do what needs to be done and make hard choices that need to be made. These include stepping on toes of friends and well-wishers who will not transform to the transformation or change agenda.
“I feel a different joy presently from when I used to receive honorary doctorate degrees. At the last count, I have received about 20 such honorary degrees from top universities from all over the world. But this NOUN degree gives me a different sense of fulfillment and accomplishment.”