Posted by News Express | 10 October 2020 | 592 times
For those Nigerians intent on breaking their heads in their struggle to be in control of affairs in Nigeria, came a warning, on Wednesday – you will soon discover that what you are struggling over is an empty shell as the entire structure the country is built upon is collapsing.
The warning came from former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, who, for the umpteenth time bemoaned the parlous situation in the country, warning that the road along which the leadership was taking was fraught not only with danger, but would lead to a dead-end if not perdition.
Obi, took the opportunity of being the guest speaker at the 60th anniversary of the founding of the University of Nigerian Nsukka (UNN), to once again, point at the stark realities facing the country, heaping the blame on the leadership style of successive leaders in recent years.
For instance, he bewailed the fact that the country’s receding profile had placed it at an unenviable position of the world poverty capital, with six persons dropping into the poverty basket every minute, children dropping out of school, a lot of people going to bed hungry and insecurity rising to the level where countries ravaged by war, like Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan were now doing better.
All these, according to Obi, who was the Vice Presidential Candidate for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), while quoting from current statistics, as usual, had also put Nigerians into lowest bracket of the most stressed and unhappy people on earth, where the gap in inequality between the rich and poor remained also among the highest in the world.
Dwelling on bad governance and poor leadership as the major factor, Obi, who reviewed a number of countries in Asia, such as China, Indonesia, Vietnam and Philippines and those in Africa, such as Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan and Ghana, who were almost at the same level with Nigeria and even those far behind in the last two decades, lamented that virtually all of them have left the country behind, with the only exception being Sudan.
Reviewing Nigeria so far, which was at the core of his speech at the event, which drew a lot of important dignitaries, including the former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Tunde Lemo, Obi, who chose to limit himself to 2,000, dismissed the debate on which government outclassing the other in terms of performance, arguing that there was a global mechanism for measuring a country witnessing growth.
Hear him: “When we say the journey so far, the world has a standard for measuring development that is universally accepted. Like in the university system, there is a standard for measuring the quality of teaching and learning. The standard is the Human Capital Development. The HDI (Human Development Index) is the standard through which development is measured and in all Nigeria is lower than the countries under comparison.
“Our life expectancy in Nigeria, for instance is not only lower than all the countries among which it is grouped 20 years ago, but it is even lower than war-torn countries like Syria and Afghanistan. So, you find out that what we’re fighting for is already collapsing because the engine of the vehicle that is taking us has a problem and is in a ditch.”
But, the former governor has a prescription for the quickest way out – education and economy, which he said were the magic wands through which the other countries that had made it including those in the exclusive economic clubs like the G-7, G-20, BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), had embraced to get to their separate levels.
He said Nigerians must embark on massive investment in education over a period of years, to produce a highly educated populace, alongside deliberate investment on its economic activities by revving up the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMSEs) which he described as the engine room of every economy.
Obi, who for the umpteenth time, bemoaned the penchant for Nigerian governments to borrow to finance consumption rather than production, emphasised that all over the world, the private sector remained the foundation of every economic growth, explaining that the public sector, fraught with a lot of corruption would never achieve anything in running the economy.
Dwelling on the need to run a lean government, he said it was one of the surest ways of freeing funds for investment into the areas that mattered, which would in turn enhance the economy, stating that it was the method he used in Anambra as a governor to save over N700billion for government, in spite of the massive achievements of his government in infrastructure, education, healthcare.
His words: “In government, there are hundreds of people with titles that are not tied to productivity. I stopped it. Why should a governor travel with 30 cars? Why should a governor maintain a lodge in Abuja, is he the governor of Abuja? I said, shut it down and that house, which is a massive house is currently under rent. I said if you’re talking about protocol, I Peter, I can check myself in at the airport. Why should a cook at the lodge in Abuja use N50,000 to cook for me in a day when a buffet at Hilton is N5,000. I pay N5,000 and eat what I like.
“As a governor, I leave a state and travel to Abuja for one day and by the time all the allowances are put together, they will amount to about N5million. Yet, the same governor has free transport, free accommodation and free food. You also hear the Office of the First Lady. If a governor is travelling, he lines up 30 cars for himself and another 30 cars for the First Lady including ambulances. Most of the cars are empty, but everybody is there causing a nuisance to road users.
“So, you Anambra, which doesn’t have ambulances in its hospitals lining up two ambulances for the governor and the wife. Why should it be so? I said I was not elected with my wife. So that office is shut down. If my wife loves me, she stays at home and cooks for me to be healthy and happy to serve those who voted for me. That’s it.”
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