…Says, ‘you can no longer be running away from your country’
…We protested against slave trade, now Nigerians are selling themselves
Recently, Peter Obi, presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the 2023 general election, was at the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) where he spoke to an audience populated mainly be students. It was a lecture, ‘The Ethical Leadership’ to mark Ben Etiaba’s 60th birthday. In his remarks after the lecture, the former governor of Anambra State urged the youth to resist the older generation from ruining their future, but to take their future in their own hands. Excerpts by Zebulon Agomuo:
Need for visionary leadership
I was in Bangladesh recently and came back very sad. It was a country I first visited in 2007, 2009 and 2015 and going back there 2023 I was in pain, because this is a country that is the same size as ours. They don’t have oil; they are not exporting oil; they had nothing. They are just trying to do the right thing by having ethical leadership. Bangladesh had a per capita of 688 dollars; call it 700 dollars; Nigeria was 2000 dollars, or almost 2000 dollars plus. By 2015, they were about 1000 dollars or 1300 dollars; we were 2600 dollars, almost 2700 dollars. Today, Bangladesh’s per capita is 2700 dollars, whereas Nigeria’s is 2100 dollars. You could see the infrastructure. Whereas in 2009, their unemployment was over 10 percent; I was there around July 2009. Today, they are under 5 percent; you could see it; you could feel it. This place is just collapsing by the day. And all that people do is to tell us lies.
Drive for foreign investment
I told somebody, you don’t go and look for foreign investor; anybody who tells you he is running around the world to look for investors is wasting everybody’s time. Foreign investor is like bee and honey- if you put honey here, how the bee will come in, nobody will tell you. I told you, Macron finished G20 meeting and flew to Bangladesh because Bangladesh had just ordered 10 Airbus-350. So, he had to go and see them.
Nigeria and economic plan for the future
If you look at countries’ economic analyses, go and google where Bangladesh would be in 2030; where they would be in 2050. Nobody knows where we are going to be. With all these lying; jokes and everything and people think it is about B or C. No. A deputy governor was just asked, you didn’t go to school and he said yes; but you filled it that you went to school. You were the one who said, I went to this school, nobody forced you. If you know it doesn’t matter, you should have said it doesn’t matter; you should have said, I didn’t go to school. So, we marvel at your ingenuity, that somebody who did not go to school is able to come up to this. But don’t say things that are not so. People say something and do something else.
Things must be done the right way
Sometime ago, I asked a woman to queue, she told me, ‘Whenever I queue, I don’t get anything.’ This happened to me last year; whenever I queue, I don’t get anything, and after the tribunal decided our case; I called the woman and said to her, I am sorry. Whenever I queue, I don’t get anything. You have someone going round the world saying this is how he’s going to conduct the election. He was going everywhere; now he is denying that he said something like ‘real time.’ Suddenly, he said no, he can do it anyhow. Why didn’t you tell us anyhow, so, we can behave anyhow when we were voting as well? That is your country. Unless we do the right thing, it will not work.
Several billions of Naria wasted in 2023 general election
The money we gave INEC to tell us that they can do whatever they like; if we gave it to Nigerian universities, they could have done what we wanted them to do; they wouldn’t do whatever they like with that money. We gave them four hundred and something billion naira to do whatever they liked, only in Nigeria. As at that time, it was $1billion, to do whatever they liked! And that is your country. If $1billion was given to Nigerian universities, imagine if they had given Vice Chancellor Igwe (UNN VC) N50 billion, imagine what the university would have been. They did not give him anything; but they gave it to another professor to do whatever he liked. It is unfortunate. All we need to do is to collectively say No to that.
Nigerians are all in it
People think it is about Peter Obi; it is not about Peter Obi being president of Nigeria. I want Nigeria to work, and work for everybody. It is not about tribe. It is not about religion. No religion buys bread cheaper. No religion or ethnic group buys bread cheaper. We are the ones facing these things.
Going where there is need
I want to thank the governor of Enugu State and the entire government for the support to what I am doing at Bishop Shanahan Hospital Nsukka. I am doing a project there for the School of Medical Sciences. It is costing about N150million and I am going to pay every kobo of it. I am doing it because they (Enugu government) authorised it. The other day, when I went to see the Bishop of Nsukka, he told me an interesting thing. He said, Peter, you have done a lot for us. He said to me that he also had a health centre; I told him I was going to help. The bishop said, please, we are brothers, do it, when people go to hospital, they don’t ask them their religion; they treat them. I told him that on September 20th, I was going to come in to face the hospital that belongs to the Anglican. This is with the help of Enugu State Government. I attract the money; they support it. This is what governance should be and these are the things we should do.
Message to Nigerian youths
Everything we are doing is about your future. Do not allow us to ruin your future. Changes in every society came from people of your age, and people of your time; you can no longer be running away from your country. Some of you die in ships and in seas. We protested against slave trade, now Nigerians are selling themselves. Please, buy me to Canada; buy me to Japan, when our parents resisted to be sold. They were in chains to be sold. Today, I am sure if anybody brings chain and says he wants to chain people to Canada, people will queue up and take the chain and follow the person to Canada. That must not happen again; we must stop it. It is about your society; help them to stop the abuse. It is about you. Don’t allow us to ruin your future; because the society we are abusing will only take revenge on you.