The candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in Nigeria’s forthcoming presidential election, Mr. Peter Obi has identified the factors behind the country’s poor economic and social indices despite its abounding and well-known huge human and natural resources.
Obi who spoke to a mammoth crowd of his Nigerian and African diaspora supporters at the main auditorium of the Howard University in Washington DC on Thursday, blamed the poor management of Nigeria’s economy on the successive corrupt leadership that has plagued the country.
He further regretted that even as the consequent poor standard of living resulting from corrupt leadership starred the bad leaders and the poorly led in the face, those entrusted with power by Nigerians at all levels have mindlessly continued to squander the people’s commonwealth while caring less about the planned channeling of national resources into productive enterprise that elevates the rating and economic well-being of the citizenry as seen in well governed countries.
He contended that unless the country’s citizenry makes amends by taking their destiny in their hands in 2023, they would have no country to bequeath to the future generation as the cumulative effect of long years of bad leadership has brought the country to the brink of economic and social collapse.
The LP presidential flag bearer called the attention of his rapt and cheery audience to the report of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) released on the same day that he spoke, which put Nigeria’s figure of out-of-school children at a staggering 20 million as a buttress to his contention that unless drastic measures are taken urgently, the country is doomed.
He said that Nigeria’s redemption will only begin when the people elect men of conscience to pilot the affairs of the country adding that the resolve to stop the decadent spiral made him to answer the call by conscientious Nigerians to run for the presidency.
Obi who said he has taken time to travel the world to learn and search for solutions to the Nigerian problem, noted further that Nigeria’s abundant human capital at home and in the diaspora if put into good and planned use, will restore the country to glory.
He said the very fact that Nigeria’s teeming diaspora, who left because of leadership-orchestrated circumstances were mainly educated back home are not only famed to be among the most educated and productive population units in the United States of America but is also a testament to the fact that much can be produced with good leadership in place. He further pledged to “turn the brain drain to brain gain” if elected to the office of president in 2023.
Obi further regretted that there has been a propensity of the Nigerian leadership not to solve problems even when the solutions are readily available pointing to the lingering strike by Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (ASUU), inadequate power generation and supply and the disenfranchisement of Nigeria’s large diaspora from voting as shameful cases in point. He wondered why the government which entered into an agreement with ASUU has continued to blame the striking university teachers when it has failed to fulfill its part of the signed agreement with the excuse of paucity of funds when top officials are known to waste the same resources and one top finance official recently granted bail for looting billions of naira in public funds. He also pointed out that the president of South Africa which generates multiple times more power than Nigeria, recently declared an emergency on power generation and permitting more private participation in the sector as an intervention measure while the leadership of Nigeria which produces a miserly 4000 megawatts of electricity for 200 million people are morosely watching in complacency while its population suffers the immense consequences.
On the disenfranchisement of Nigerians in the diaspora who cannot vote because the enabling laws are not in place, Obi noted that the failure to grant them their natural right to vote was on purpose and by design as the same people who have mismanaged the country have refused to make it happen knowing that diaspora Nigerians being highly enlightened, will not vote those mismanaging the country’s affairs.
“Nigeria used to be a country of reference, a country that once helped South Korea with money to pay salaries, a country that even gave the IMF money. The question now is: what went wrong?. Why has Nigeria become a crisis situation? Why did countries like China and others that Nigeria did better than just a few years after it fought a civil war gone ahead to surpass and overtake it? The answer is bad leadership, a leadership that threw the country into a complete mess. At a time every OPEC member country is posting huge profits from meeting its quota due to the war in Ukraine, Nigeria is unable to show the difference in earnings and is in fact losing millions of barrels of oil revenue to oil thieves. How can oil be stolen when there is a government regulating the process? How is such theft possible in this age and time? The country is borrowing heavily and running huge deficits. How can such a country claim to be a giant or is it a giant that has got everything wrong?”, Obi painfully posited to thunderous ovations and applause.
He further observed that the expertise of Nigeria’s teeming diaspora has not been harnessed by a concerted effort of the government in their home country as has been done by China and other strong and emerging economies and promised to run a government that will partner with them as investors to create wealth. He cited agricultural production as one of the many areas where government can partner with the diaspora to reignite the Nigerian economy adding that Nigerians abroad could be assisted by government to create investments that will yield returns than serve as automatic teller machines from which relatives draw funds used for food and family expenditures that brings no returns on investment.
The LP presidential candidate said Nigerians have suffered enough and should rise in unison to take back their country from corrupt politicians who have proven not to have their interests at heart going by their past bad performances which combined to wreck the progress of the country. He charged Nigerians to vote for only candidates with proven track records of integrity and capacity to deliver and not support candidates whipping up primordial sentiments based on ethnicity, religion or other narrow considerations.
Concluding, Obi said he stopped over in Washington DC as part of his seven-city sensitization tour to lay out plans he expect to be held accountable for if elected president and asked his opponents in the forthcoming election to also visit Nigerians in the diaspora to equally lay out their policies and plans for assessment.