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Politics of Thursday, 28 April 2022


I'm desperate to make Nigeria work - Obi

Mr. Peter Obi Mr. Peter Obi

A Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential hopeful, Mr. Peter Obi, has said he was desperate to be president but eager to see Nigeria work.

The two-term governor of Anambra State and vice-presidential candidate of the PDP in 2019, stated this yesterday, when he paid a courtesy visit to Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State, at the Government House, Yenagoa.

But, Diri, who admitted that Obi had proven his worth as governor of Anambra, especially, when he saved and handed over N75bn to his successor, Willie Obiano, however, restated the call for power shift to the south.

Also, former National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Senator Victor Umeh, has joined others to call for the zoning of the presidency to the South in 2023, saying it would promote unity and understanding among Nigerians.

However, Obi, who said Nigeria was a great country with untapped potentialities, noted also that he was desperate to move the nation away from a consumption economy to a productive one.

He stressed that Nigeria was not working, because of its unproductive state, which he said was unacceptable to the nation’s young, intelligent and smart population.

The presidential hopeful, who reeled off the statistics of the agricultural value chain to Nigeria’s economy as against oil revenue, decried the level of neglect of food production in the country.

Obi asserted that if elected Nigeria’s president, he would end the current oil revenue sharing formula and introduce a production formula, particularly, in agriculture and ICT.

He said the $18bn Nigeria gets from oil monthly could not be compared to Facebook or Twitter, which was just sold for $44bn.

“I am aspiring to lead this country. For me, it is not a desperate aspiration but I am desperate to see Nigeria work. This is a great country and I have a simple thing to do. I want to move it from consumption to a productive country. It is not working, because it is not a productive country.

“We cannot see our children, millions of young people that are smart and intelligent stay at home doing nothing and we keep quiet. I was in Niger State with 76,363sq km of the land but the people cannot feed themselves and Nigeria. They are also exporting nothing.

“Whereas the Netherlands is 33,100sq km of land, they are exporting agricultural materials of $120bn, while we earn only $18bn from oil. All we do here is share the formula. I want to stop it. We must have a production formula. Let the people produce the oil and keep it. There are so many things people can do.”

Obi also condemned continuous borrowing under the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led federal government, saying in four years, the country had borrowed almost $100bn with nothing to show for it.

The presidential aspirant, who promised to change the country’s debt profile, lambasted the government at the centre for making excuses for why Nigeria could not work.

On his part, Diri, who made a case for power shift to the south, said Nigeria needed well-equipped and knowledgeable people like Obi to rescue the country from those who have failed to fix it.

He emphasised that anyone voted to lead must take the responsibility of addressing the challenges inherited rather than putting the blame on previous administrations.

The governor commended Obi for his bright ideas geared towards fixing the country and noted that the PDP had eminently qualified presidential aspirants cut out for the job than anyone the ruling party would present.

“Indeed you cannot doubt it that Peter Obi has proved his worth as a two-term governor who handed over N75bn to his successor. Nigeria needs those who will rescue this country as it is going down and we all know it. So, our country needs to be rescued from those giving excuses rather than fixing the problems and challenges.

“Our party must unite. We have several of you (aspirants) well qualified. As you stated, anyone of you would be better than anyone from the other side. The experience, intellectual capacity and pedigree that you would bring to bear in correcting the wrongs and inability of the current serving government is not in doubt,” he said.

Meanwhile, Umeh who spoke yesterday on the Morning Show of ARISE NEWS Channel, said the country was getting polarised along the interests of various groups in Nigeria.

“If you want to be the president of Nigeria, you must be hoping to preside over a united country and the only thing that can unite Nigeria is the patronage of all parts of Nigeria,” he said, explaining that it was right for people to look at the historical sharing of power in Nigeria to determine, where the right candidate to come from in 2023.

He maintained it was important that the presidency should be rotated between the North and South of Nigeria.

His words: “We looked at all the issues concerning power sharing in Nigeria, every part of Nigeria wants to produce president for Nigeria, and also, because of the way the country has been run over the years, at the National conference, I agreed unanimously that power should rotate between the North and the South, and then across the geopolitical zones.

“If a president comes from the northern part of Nigeria, and that president serves for eight years, the power or the presidency should rotate to the south, and when the presidency rotates to the south when a zone produces a president for eight years, the power will return to the north. And when it gets back to the north, it will go to zone that has not produced the president. So, this was an agreement reached conscientiously.”

Umeh said he still didn’t know what the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was trying to do to Nigeria as it is obvious that the next President should come from the southern part of Nigeria on the principle of rotation of presidency to keep Nigeria together.

“What is paramount in this choice we are going to make will be to keep Nigeria truly united. Today, we have many countries inside Nigeria and the only thing that we can do is to take conscious efforts to unite Nigeria. Now, if the presidency is to come to the southern part of Nigeria, PDP has no reason to say they wouldn’t zone the presidency.

“In PDP constitution, they have zoning. So, the justice of the matter at this time is that the presidency must come to the Southern part of Nigeria. Power should go to the southeast or the president should come from the southeast of Nigeria and not necessarily Igbo people; it’s a zonal arrangement.

“I can tell you that anybody, who is saying that the South-East is not justified in their quest to produce the next president for Nigeria is paying lip service to the unity of Nigeria and this is something we should not encourage. As for the All Progressives Congress, (APC), they said they’ve zoned the presidency to the south, but we are looking for affirmative action in the next primary they will conduct.

“Let us see if they will exclude everybody from the north in the primary that they are going to conduct. We have people from the South Eastern APC that are running for president, but increasingly, again there are other people who are there waiting for Mr. President to give them the nod, and then they will declare. Some are showing interest,” he stated.

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