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Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Saturday said the concept of national development must ensure the advancement of human human life.
Obasanjo who spoke at the 2019 Synod of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Oleh, Isoko South Local Government Area of Delta, said national development should no longer be measured by economic growth alone.
Obasanjo who spoke on the topic, “Mobilising Nigeria’s Human and Natural Resources for National Development and Stability” said, “Until the last two or three decades of the last century (especially while the Cold War was still on), when nations talked about national development, the emphasis was more on the growth of the economy (or economic growth as measured by GDP per capita), that is infrastructure, industrial output and growth, etc.”
Obasanjo added that “except for the western nations perhaps, very rarely did the welfare and well-being of the individual citizen come into reckoning.”
“In fact, in some jurisdictions, the citizens themselves counted more as means of production, which explains the historical listing of population as one of the elements of national power. Human beings were expendable commodities in the quest for greatness – that can be reduced to a single dimension as economic creatures.
“Hence, GDP growth matters more than the welfare and well-being of the people.
“However, following the collapse of the former Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War in 1990, there emerged a changed notion of the concept of development which now holds that people must be at the centre of all development: in other words, the central focus of all development efforts (or national development) must be to ensure the advancement of human flourishing and expanding the richness of human life,” Obasanjo said.
Obasanjo added that according to this new thinking, the end point of any developmental thinking or process must be the welfare and well-being of people themselves.
“Development, therefore, is for all the people, about all the people, for all the people and by all. This implies that no aspect of the development of any nation must be seen as an end in itself, but rather, as a means to acquiring human well-being and welfare.
“From this, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) espoused the concept of Human Development as the ultimate goal of National Development. In short, from 1990 onwards, the new paradigm of national development championed by the UNDP is called the human development approach – which emphasizes enlarging people’s freedoms, choices and opportunities rather than economic growth,” Obasanjo said.
He said this new thinking has inspired and informed solutions and policies across the world, including Nigeria.
While commending the Bishop of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Oleh Diocese, John Aruakpor for sustaining the time-honoured tradition and requirement for the annual synods, Obasanjo noted that Church would continue to play very critical role in the overall growth and development of the country.
The former president said that Church in Nigeria has continued to provide the spiritual growth of the people as well as the overall physical wellbeing and welfare of Nigerians.
He said the Church had in the face of daunting challenges continued to mould opinions, adding that the Church also make critical interventions, and influence policies and general directions of the various tiers of governments in Nigeria.
“A clear testimony to this ennobling role of the church can be seen from the topic: Mobilising Nigeria’s Human and Natural Resources for National Development and Stability.
“The main mission of the Church is salvation of the soul but without ignoring the physical, mental and the general social well-being of humankind.
Obasanjo, thereafter, proceeded to inagurate a multi-million Naira Dantinjo Gold Resort in Oleh where he urged the public sector to create an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive.
“The duty of the public sector is to create an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive,” Obasanjo said.