Obi: Politicians, Govt Officials Have Abandoned Naira for Dollars

•Says fixing power, education possible

Onyebuchi Ezigbo

Former governor of Anambra state and a presidential aspirant under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Peter Obi has expressed worry over the poor state of the country’s economy, especially the diminishing value of the naira.

Obi who was guest on the ‘Morning Show’ on Arise Television, yesterday, said 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 nation’s currency, Obi said one of the most important ingredients of a nation was 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 dollars.

“I find it worrisome that while our manufacturers, business people are not getting dollars to bring in critical goods into our country, the politicians have enough 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 there was no country in the world where you spend such an amount of money to purchase nomination forms. He said in America where Nigeria copied its democracy from, and which has Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of about $20 trillion, pays 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.

“None of us paying this amount to purchase party nomination forms, has anyone asked to produce evidence of tax payment for the past 10 years,” he added.

To make matters worse, he said politicians were flaunting such wealth at a time when lecturers and other non-teaching staff had on strike.

He also queried the rationale for spending such huge sum of money when lecturers and pensioners were being owed one entitlement or the other.

Obi spoke about his tenure as governor of Anambra state.

He explained that during his tenure as governor, his administration gave priority to three keys areas, pension, salaries and savings before embarking on other expenditures. 

He said 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, productive businesses.

Obi said if given the opportunity to serve as president, he would vote more resources for the promotion of small businesses.

He said power supply which is one of key factors affecting the country’s economy, would also be given priority.

According to him, improving power supply was not rocket science, adding that big economies in Africa like South Africa and Egypt had successfully grown their power generation capacities within a short period.

The aspirant said steady power supply was achievable and would help propel economic growth for Nigeria.

He said 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, the presidential aspirant said that the situation is regrettable.

According to him, the sad story is that even  funds budgeted for education were not getting to the places it was meant for.

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