Africa must cut reliance on food imports, says Nigerian billionaire
Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday blamed a wave of malnutrition on the high importation of foodstuffs from abroad for the sharp rise in food prices in the country.
Obasanjo, whose own country has been in turmoil in recent years, called for a review of the use of food imports in Africa saying that Africa must be self-sufficient if it wanted to meet its food needs.
Speaking at the Oxford African Business Forum in the UK, the former Nigerian president said: “I have come here to say that the present crisis which is gripping the world cannot be solved by importing rice and oil and iron ore from Europe, Norway and so on.
“No, Africa cannot survive without self-sufficiency. We cannot survive with this kind of dependency. We must get rid of it. We must cut out imported rice and oil and so on.”
Obasanjo, who returned to Nigeria last week amid the unrest, was criticised last month by his successor Goodluck Jonathan for a speech he had said reflected the “colonial mentality” of the Niger Delta.
Obasanjo, who served as the country’s president from 1967 to 1981, said Britain should stop using food imports for political ends.
“I said in my last talk that I will never go to Britain again because of the British colonial mentality,” Obasanjo said. “The British must know that what they are doing to Nigeria is an insult to the spirit of the constitution under which we live.”
Obasanjo said Africa should follow a more independent path, saying that African countries should have their own industries and a say in the region’s development.
“The continent cannot rely on Europe for the solution to the problems, for example, the crisis we are faced with today because there is no such a thing that when there is a crisis and an emergency, people are just sitting and thinking of themselves.
“Let us know what we can do. Why not start our own industries as a self-reliant society, a self-reliant society with own industries, self-reliant industries to make something in Africa, self-reliant industries to generate employment in Africa and bring the continent out of poverty, not just to import cheap oil from the Gulf