Saturday, January 29, 2005

Obasanjo Wows 'Em in Davos

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo was one of the more influential speakers at this week's World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, blue-collar economist Paul Petillo writes in The American Reporter.

On a stage with Bono, Tony Blair and other luminaries, Obasanjo apparently took on the hyper-articulate former President Bill Clinton and, in the minds of many, came out ahead.

The story appears at

Said Petillo:
The economic influences that lead to national strength are vastly different than they were a decade ago. The future beckons for African leaders and the quest to join the elite, the financially endowed nations, the masters of the marketplace, is the driving force that has kept many struggling countries from simply crumbling.

The president of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, was correct in refuting former President Bill Clinton's assumption that leadership, developed through systems, cheap medications and debt relief were the keys to healing the ills in this troubled part of the world.

Obasanjo, sharing the stage with Bono, BIll Gates, Tony Blair and Thabo Mbeki, president of South Africa, said in clear but punctuated tones that the problem was capacity. Economics would solve the problem, he seemed to suggest, understanding that this was the reason many of his people chose life abroad to life in Nigeria. He gave as an example, 5,000 doctors who, according to Obasanjo, trained in his country but practice in foreign lands.

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, a key decision-maker in the JDZ awards process, scored points with the press in a joint appearance with Bono, PM Tony Blair, former President Bill Clinton and Bill Gates at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week.Photo: Courtesy of African

In a report on the same event - the bggest crowd-pleaser at this year's forum, attended by some of the world's richest and most influential people - The Boston Globe also quoted Obasanjo's plea for aid to the developing and impoverished nations of Africa.

The panel attracting the biggest audience yesterday featured Clinton, Blair, Gates, the presidents of South Africa and Nigeria, and U2 rock singer Bono discussing whether the seven wealthiest nations and Russia -- the Group of Eight -- will take action to end poverty in Africa.

A report to the UN this month concluded that poverty can be cut in half by 2015 and eliminated by 2025 if the world's richest countries, including the United States, Japan, and Germany, more than double aid to the poorest countries.

At stake is life or death for tens of millions of people, it said.

"We need this critical mass of resources to make a change, to make a difference," President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria said.

Blair, who is making Africa a focus of his leadership of the G-8 this year, said the continent's plight is ''a scar on the conscience of the world." He reiterated his call for an African Commission to analyze what is wrong and prescribe how ''to put it right."

''The absolutely key thing is to agree that the end objective is a very substantial uplift in aid," he said.

Gates, who has amassed an estimated $48 billion as founder of Microsoft, said millions of children in Africa could be saved if there were enough resources.

''The fact that we don't apply the resources to the known cures or to finding better cures is really . . . the most scandalous issue of our time," he said.

Gates, who has been one of the largest contributors to alleviating global poverty, recently pledged $750 million to support immunization programs in developing countries.

That story appears online this morning on The Globe's site, at


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