Obi Flays Poor State of Economy, Diminishing Value of Naira
* Say fixing power, education possible
A former Governor of Anambra State and presidential aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Peter Obi, has expressed worry over the poor state of the country’s economy, especially the fast diminishing value of the naira.
Obi, who was a guest of the Arise Television News programme Morning Show on Tuesday, said that the reason the country’s economy witnessed unimaginable downturn was the undue emphasis on consumption rather than production.
Speaking on the decreasing value of the local currency, Obi said that one of the most important ingredients of a nation is the respect people have for their currency.
“Currency is the measure of faith and trust of citizens of a nation, it is the measure of productivity. It is very worrisome that government officials who are supposed to be the protector of our local currency have abandoned the currency and are now spending dollar.
“I find it worrisome that while our our manufacturers, business people are not getting dollars to bring in for critical goods into our country, the politicians have enough of the dollars to share and these people are those who have no legitimate means of earning this dollar,” he said.
Obi lamented that the country’s politics has remained largely transactional.
On the high cost of nomination forms, he said that there is no country in the world where you spend such an amount of money to purchase nomination forms.
He said that in America, where Nigeria copied her democracy from, and which has a GDP of about $20 trillion, pays a maximum of $4,000 for nomination forms, whereas in Nigeria with two per cent of their GDP, politicians pay as much as $100,000 to pick expression of interest and nomination forms.
“And none of us that is paying this amount to purchase party nomination forms, has anyone asked to produce evidence of tax payment for the past 10 years,” he said.
To make matters worse, he said that politicians are flaunting this wealth at a time when lecturers and other non-teaching staff are on strike.
He also queried the rationale for spending such huge sum of money when the lecturers and pensioners are being owed one entitlement or the other.
Obi spoke about his tenure as governor of Anambra State, saying that as governor, his administration gave priority to three keys areas — pension, salaries and savings — before embarking on other expenditures.
He said that it was the strategy that helped him to make substantial savings for the state.
On the problem affecting the economy, he said the country has not paid adequate attention to the development and growth of small scale and productive businesses.
Obi said that if given the opportunity to serve as president, he will vote more money for the promotion of small businesses.
He said that power supply, which is one of the key factors affecting the country’s economy, will be given priority.
According to him, improving power supply is not rocket science, adding that big economies in Africa like South Africa and Eqypt have successfully grown their power generation capacities within a short period.
The aspirant said that steady power supply is achievable and will help propel economic growth for Nigeria.
He said that if the country had voted a third of the borrowings it made in the last eight years to develop new capacities in the power sector, the electricity supply situation in the country would have been different.
The aspirant also spoke about developing the agricultural sector and turning the huge land mass and natural resources the nation is blessed with into opportunity to make the country great.
On the crisis affliction the education sector, Obi said that the situation is regrettable.
He said that a situation where state legislatures could afford to own fleet of cars and even gift some to supporters while university professors can hardly afford any is not acceptable.
According to him, the sad story is that even the monies being budgeted for education is not getting to the places it was meant for.
He said that things were not this bad before now, adding that during his school days at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, there used to be an exchange programme whereby both students and lecturers from other countries usually come to learn and impart knowledge.