Dr Festus Lola Osunsade a renowned economist from Idanre in Ondo State is Dead. He was aged 77. April 14, 1944.
Family source said he died in Lagos during a brief illness. A Rockefeller Foundation Scholarship winner. He took all his degrees except Bachelor of Science to Doctorate degrees from elite universities in London. He did his Masters from the University of Ibadan.
In an interview conducted by Christy Anyanwu published in the Sun of 25 February 2020 reads:
“Festus Lola Osunsade, PhD, is the founder, Centre for Common Interest Matters. He is a retired top official of International Monetary Fund (IMF). He made great impact in Kenya and Tanzania from his economic policy contributions. His last place of service was in Nigeria. He worked directly under Vice President Atiku Abubakar during President Olusegun Obasanjo’s regime. He is the initiator and creator of Poverty Alleviation Programme under President Obasanjo in 2002. In this interview, the octogenarian’s main concern is a better Nigeria. He talked on why he recently formed Centre for Common Interest Matters, his experience as IMF senior representative, as well as his lifestyle among others.
How was it working as IMF representative in various countries?
I travelled round all continents while working with International Monetary Fund. I worked in North America, South America, Asia, Middle East, Africa. I went to all these countries, I had to stay there representing the various offices in these countries. I found out that no country can help us except we help ourselves. The money spent on transportation in many African countries, good road, aesthetics in the capital city, some of them are less than what we have spent in Nigeria. How come we have such bad roads here, how come it takes so many years to build a 100 kilometers of road between Lagos and Ibadan? That road can be built in less than a year. Are we saying we have not got the money? We haven’t got the money, we haven’t got the technology, we haven’t got resources, we haven’t got the know how? Why do we have to give three companies to build 100 kilometers? When you go to America, on the highway, you see inscription, ‘Taxes at Work’, when they are building roads. Here, there is no accountability. This is where the context of Ombudsman comes in. In England, in other countries, the citizens have the right to go to the office of the Ombudsman to file a complaint about the presidency or activities of government. The Ombudsman is an independent person, he is a very experienced citizen in the country either from the civil service or law or any profession. He’s given the mandate such that people can come and lodge all the complaints against the government on projects and the way forward and they will file the complaint, and publish and it is read by everybody. It encourages people to see that there is hope, there is avenue for them to lodge their complaints. It also makes those who are carrying out these projects to know they should do best practices in their projects. In this forum we want to set up, we just want experienced, successful people in their respective careers to come and talk on what is the core need that would help to reshape this country. I’m sure people would want to hear from someone like Dangote talking on the way forward for this nation. This centre is one for ideas, we are going to promote peace and stability in Nigeria. We are not talking about Yoruba people, talking for Yoruba people or Igbo and Hausa talking for themselves. There are so many problems before all of us, we want to talk about these things. We would invite people from all ethnic groups and learn how to live together.
Is your project being funded by anyone?
Money doesn’t change society. It is ideas that change society. Tell me what money has changed in world history? Nothing. The man who has brought the most change in the world, Jesus Christ did not have money, at all. In fact, he didn’t have bank account and yet everyone respects him. Same thing with Indira Ghandi of India and Nelson Mandela in South Africa, so if you want to change society keep your money, bring out your ideas on the table. If your ideas are good, people would molest you because your ideas are different from their own. I don’t want to be the president of Nigeria but I’m interested to see that things happen and I can help to change lives of people. If you see the combination of available resources in Nigeria and the impact of those resources on the quality of life of the people, the gap is not necessary. If those that don’t have work to do come and don’t want salary, come to this office we would give them assignment to sweep the streets, clean the gutter , give them some money to take home to buy bread. It breaks my heart to see people (boys and girls) roaming the streets, with nowhere to go. They just want to get out of the house, take a walk and find if somebody will charge them up. We can address some of those problems without throwing money at them . We just mobilize them. We discuss and arrive at some conclusions. Our NGO is Centre for Common Interest Matters. We are taking off soon. It will be a discussion forum first, we are mobilizing matters of common interest. Adam Smith wrote a book in 1776, it is not from the generosity of the butcher that we have meat on our table. You think the butcher is giving us the meat? He’s pursuing his own interests! We want a situation where we can make society benefit and we also will benefit. I want to make it clear that I’m not interested in any politics. I don’t want to be in any political party.
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