BusinessDay

Nigeria is qualified to be a failed state – Peter Obi

Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) for the 2023 general elections and former governor of Anambra State, spoke on the state of the nation and his presidential bid at the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) conference in Lagos on Monday. Iniobong Iwok brings the excerpt.

Let me start by thanking the organizers for inviting me. As you know, I am one of the strong beneficiaries of the judiciary. But for the work of my strong legal team led by Dr Oyechi Ikpeazu and late OJ SAN, I wouldn’t be standing here.

You know that from my election petition, to my impeachment to my tenure interpretation.

And again whenever people talk about corruption in the judiciary, I would take exception in all this entire journey I did not give anybody one naira.

So for me, I remain eternally grateful to you for what you are doing for me to be here and everything.

My topic today is: ‘Democratic transition in the 21 century Nigeria 2023 and beyond’.

As a trader, I would try to contribute in my own little way I think we should go.

For me, democracy has a simple description; government of the people by the people and for the people.

That means everything about democracy is about the people and transition means changing from one thing to the other.

Nigeria needs an urgent transition from being a highly in-secure country to a secure country, from a disunited country to a united country, from corruption to a transparent country, and from a country of lawlessness to a country of law and order.

But in all these, it is important that we look at where we are today, for people to understand the gravity of the journey we are going to take if we are going to transit.

Where are we today? Nigeria is qualified to be a failed state. We have made two or three characteristics of a failed state.

One is when you are no longer in charge of your territory. Today we are among the top terrorized countries in the world. We are among the top kidnapping countries in the world. Banditry, criminality. Bandits have taken over some parts of this country.

Nigerians are being killed daily, and all kinds of criminality are going on daily. Even, eighty percent of our oil, the most important source of foreign exchange revenue is stolen; that shows how bad it is.

We are the only country, apart from Venezuela that because of sanctions is not meeting up its OPEC quota. Every other country is begging for an increase while Nigeria is not meeting up on its own and you would not believe the quantity that is missing.

“… in July we lost seven hundred and seven thousand barrels per day. If you multiply that by 31 days, it would give you twenty-two million two hundred and twenty-seven barrels of oil that was lost.”

This is a country that needs dollars, if you have that quantity we lost in July alone and sell it at the average price of $110, it would give you two billion, four hundred and fifty dollars, which at our exchange rate of N550, you lost 1trilion, three hundred and four-four billion, seven hundred million naira.

That is what your country is losing in one month to theft. It is important that you know that.

Number two item to show that we are a failed state is that; you are no longer in charge of your economy.

We have an economy where over one hundred million people are living in poverty. Nigeria’s unemployment is one of the highest in the world with combined unemployment and underemployment at fifty percent.

Out of two hundred million Nigerians, fifty percent are supposed to be working. You are supposed to have one hundred and twenty million Nigerians working but Nigerians that are working are under fifty million.

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Seventy million Nigerians are not working, not productive, and when you compare this to your productivity you see how low it is.

But what is even worse, between January this year and April, the total revenue of the federal government of Nigeria is one Trillion, six hundred and thirty and thirty billion naira.

Their expenditure is four trillion, seven hundred and twenty billion. If you minus this we have a deficit of 3 trillion, 100 billion.

That shows almost twenty percent is your deficit. How did we come here? It is a cumulative effect of leadership failure over the years.

How did we get there? What are we going to do? You need to have visionary competent leadership, to start turning around this.

So, the election you would have next year is not about tribe, religion, connection nor entitlement; it must be an election about character, competence, capacity and commitment to deliver.

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