He added that Africans should look inward and anchor on value reorientation, respectfulness, obedience and hard work if the continent must rise above its challenges.
The former president made these remarks in Lagos, on Saturday, in his keynote address at the sixth Annual Christopher Kolade Lecture on Business Integrity.
Obasanjo spoke on the theme, ‘The Role of Business Integrity in National Transformation’, advising that Nigeria must reinvigorate efforts to tackle institutional inefficiency, infrastructural decay and economic transformation through emphasis on integrity.
He said, “The key to Nigeria’s economic transformation is integrity. We must start placing a high premium on integrity. When countries and organisations are managed with integrity, it results in long-term benefits.
“The effect of corruption will cost up to 30 per cent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product by 2030 if not dealt with. As Africans, we need to look inward and anchor on integrity, value reorientation, respectfulness, obedience and hard work. There is a lack of focus; there is political impunity and it is a consequence of lack of transparency and integrity.
“Lack of integrity in our national life is causing us a lot of potential and it is the grandfather of corruption. It is responsible for the high cost of governance. Contract splitting is now the order of the day. Companies doctor their annual reports to suit business purposes.
“Public office holders engage in procurement distortions and these have led to the huge institutional inefficiency, infrastructural and social decay we are experiencing today.”
Obasanjo wrapped up his remarks by quoting Proverbs 29:2, which says, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.”
On his part, Kolade said the country must begin to emphasise on integrity in every facet of its national life if it must move forward.
“It doesn’t matter where we are coming from, but where we are going is our focus and we must continue to push the goal of integrity. The problem we have is that sometimes, there is a cost to pay and we are expected to pay it for us to move forward,” Kolade added.
The Chair, Governing Board of Integrity, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, in her welcome address, said the lack of integrity was an elephant the country must conquer to move forward, adding that the event was being organised annually because of the importance of integrity to the country.