BusinessDay

Obi lists insecurity, huge debt, high inflation, poverty as dark clouds over Nigeria

...says they are not insurmountable

Peter Obi, the Labour party presidential candidate has said that the next president of Nigeria will be faced with an array of daunting tasks but not impossible to solve during a media dialogue, Wednesday in Lagos.

Insecurity, debts, inflation, poverty, oil theft, unsustainable fuel subsidy, etc. lead to the issues that evaporated to form these dark clouds.

Obi, who nurses the ambition to be the next president of Nigeria attended the media engagement after his campaign in Jos, Plateau State, one of the hotbeds of insecurity in the North-Central part of Nigeria.

He said during the interview that one of his strategies to tackle insecurity is through multi-level policing; from local governments to state, and to the national level, reviewing the entire security infrastructure, and security architecture.
“You need to deal with this to be able to have appropriate manpower, equipment, training, support, motivation, and I can tell you it’s something that I study every single year,” Obi added.

Muhammadu Buhari, the president of Nigeria spent ₦8 trillion on security in the last six years but still could not quell the murderous activities of Boko Haram or Bandits, according to dataphyte, a media research and data analytics organisation.

“On the 19th of April 2022, the super mushshak trainer aircraft with two military officers on board crashed at Kaduna with no survivors,” dataphyte reported. “This is one of the 14 NAF aircraft crashes between 2015 and 2022. These aircraft crashes have led to the loss of 15 NAF aircraft worth an estimated $135.13 million. Apart from the financial loss, it has also resulted in the loss of top military personnel”, dataphyte reported.

Read also: Atiku/Okowa campaign is focused on the rescue Nigeria project – Bwala

“However, this informs the question of how the local police will be trained and adequately equipped to tackle the experienced hands pulling the strings of mishaps in the country.

“I’ve met various arms over security systems, did detailed studies, compared them with other nations of the world and imagining what to do. Once it is security, I can tell anybody that I should be held responsible. We will be decisive, we will be precise because security is the most critical thing to deal with,” Obi responded.

Speaking further, he connected the dots on how solving insecurity can address food inflation which rose by 22.02 percent, according to the July inflation report published by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

“If you look at the inflation today, the first thing you need to deal with is the food inflation and that can happen unless you get your farmers back to the farms and they are not there because of insecurity.
You need to get them back,” Obi said.

If you, the reader will agree, fuel subsidy removal is one of the actions of Peter Obi that we can’t verify in Anambra but what can be verified is his generosity with the dividends of democracy for residents of Anambra such as infrastructural development, education, economic development, etc.

When asked if he will risk the wrath of the powerful “labour” unions in the country by removing fuel subsidy when he becomes president, the Onitsha-born presidential candidate said fuel subsidy is an organised crime.

“Fifty percent of it is corruption, and you can deal with it. The other 50 is for you to deal with it by removal but you must offer an alternative using the same resources.

“Nigerians are not totally against the removal of subsidy but what is there that you’re offering if you’re going to remove it?”

The alternative, according to Obi is to bring in private sector Investments.
“Support us to build refineries, modular refineries, everything that is possible and ensure that since it is for local distribution, sell the crude to them in naira, he said ”

“If you do that over a period I can tell you the price is not going to be as high as you can imagine, …I’ve also done the numbers.”

Delving into foreign policy that means how a country relates with others, can Nigeria be the giant in the continent on whose shoulders other African countries can stand tall?

“Our foreign policy will remain Africa focused. What is important is that we have to deal with domestic issues; you need to turn around your domestic situation, make it robust and economically viable in order to be able to earn your respect internationally,” Obi said.

In addition, Obi said: “As for issues of being involved with Africa free trade, Nigeria is a signature to it and I remain committed to it.

“By the time you move Nigeria from consumption to production, if we start cultivating our vast land in the North, If we start turning around our manufacturing sector, where we’re going to be exporting it too? Africa first. Where are we going to sell it? Africa first.”

Discussing debt, Obi noted the debt crisis in Africa’s largest economy has the potential to hamstring his performance and also said that he has no issues with borrowing.

Will Obi dig Nigeria’s debt hole deeper?

“I’ve always said there’s no problem with that, but it is what you use the money you borrow for.”
“Nigerian debts today to GDP is low but Nigerian debt to revenue is high.
What you need to do is to work on the revenue side; to work on the revenue side it’s very simple, we move this country from consumption to production,” he said.

Taking on political and fiscal restructuring of Africa’s largest economy, Obi noted he will pull the bull by the horns; not by force or fears, but by consensus.

“We need to restructure the country,” Obi said, adding, “It is for the good of the country.”

But are we talking about constitutional restructuring?

“Yes, but that will take time; pulling people out of poverty, dealing with issues of security, you don’t need to wait for that constitutional restructuring.
“What we need to do is to bring a conversation, a dialogue, we’re a democracy, we’re not going to rule by force or by fear but by consensus you’re going to start talking, people need to start hearing from you,” Obi said.

Restructuring: how it failed under Jonathan and the lessons to learn

Goodluck Jonathan, a former President of Nigeria provided some reasons restructuring the country may just be a waste of time during an interview.

Jonathan pointed out that nepotism, ethnicity and lack of patriotism are among issues that must be tackled squarely before restructuring.

He said, “We cannot restructure without solving issues that polarise us which are nepotism, ethnic and religious differences and lack of patriotism,” Jonathan said at a media dialogue in Abuja on Thursday.

Jonathan further noted that the discussion on restructuring will not help the country except citizens restructure their minds.

“From Independence, the struggle was that politics was based on regions and there was this tension,” he added.

He lamented that the battle of who will produce the national leaders among religions is still hunting the country till today.

“Our conversation in this country is taking the dimension of a baby frog and baby snake. “We are causing our children to despise themselves,” Jonathan warned.

If Peter Obi’s labour to save Nigerians from being soaked when these dark clouds rain, will be a success, the votes will tell.

On another note, the federal high court in Lagos ordered the supporters of labour party presidential candidate, peter Obi not to converge on the Lekki Toll Gate for their planned October 1 rally.

The judge, Daniel Osiago, also directed the Lagos state police commissioner and inspector-general of police to monitor compliance with the order.

Although the court ruled that the rally could not stop at the Lekki tollgate, the judge ruled that it could pass through the site to access the Falomo Bridge and other locations where the rally planned to meet.

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.