Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
A leading presidential aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Peter Obi, has decried the rate of poverty in Nigeria, saying that Nigeria has more people living under poverty than China and India put together.
The former Anambra State Governor who said this when he came to Abia to consult with the leadership of PDP ahead of the party primaries, said that unless something urgent was done to change the narrative, insecurity would continue to worsen in the country.
“Nigeria has more people living under poverty than the two biggest countries in the world – China and India. Today we have 33.5% unemployment rate, and if you combine it with the underemployed, you have about 55% out of which 60% are young people of productive years.
“People have been to school in Nigeria but without jobs. Over 15 million are out of school. We have serious problem in our hands.”
Obi urged delegates at the party primaries not to mortgage the future of their children because of monetary inducements.
“Our delegates, you can’t be a delegate for ever. When you are going for primaries carry the photos of your children. If they give you money, collect but don’t vote against your conscience.”
Obi said that if given the opportunity, he would fix Nigeria again and make the country the pride of the black race, saying that his antecedents in Anambra were a foretaste of what he would do if voted as President in 2023.
“I was once a Governor of Anambra State for eight years. I know the problems of Nigeria and I know how they can be solved.
“I want to change Nigeria into a producing country. All they do today is sharing. We have to stop this sharing and start producing.
“I have governed a state. That state was a total mess when I came on board. We were not an oil-producing state, but I left billions in the state coffers.
“I left without owing anybody any gratuities. I was not owing salaries. I was not owing any contractor who executed any job. My hand over was made public.
“I invited the Managing Directors of the three banks – Access, Diamond and Fidelity banks – where we had our savings. We had$50 million dollars, N12 billion in Access bank; $50 million, N12 billion in Diamond bank; and $56 million, N12 billion in Fidelity bank. The MDs confirmed the figures publicly and I handed it over to my successor. I told them that I invested N59 billion in NIPP for Anambra State.”
Obi who regretted that “Nigeria is collapsing fast,” said he was in the race to change Nigeria from a consuming country to a producing country.
He regretted that the All Progressives Congress, APC-led Federal Government had plunged Nigeria into unimaginable debt through borrowings that were squandered.
“We are in debt because the money was borrowed for consumption and not for production.
“When Obasanjo left office in 2007, Nigeria was owing equivalent of cumulatively N3 trillion but today, Nigeria has a debt of over N58 trillion which is about 38% of our GPD without any growth.
“We are now using over 90% of our revenue to service debts. In the first five months of last year, Nigeria earned 1 trillion 847 billion naira and serviced debt with about 1 trillion 800 billion naira.”
Obi lamented that Nigeria would soon go into a state of insolvency and chaos if nothing urgent was done to pull it back from the precipice.
“The country today has collapsed. Yet we don’t feel bothered. You wake up today all you hear is Killings, kidnappings, and all kinds of criminalities. They go into villages and kidnap not just one but the entire village and kill off everyone. Some feel not bothered because it’s not their village but soon it will get everywhere.”
The former Governor blamed Nigeria’s woes on leadership failure.
“What we see in Nigeria today is a cumulative effect of leadership failure over the years which we all contributed to. Our country is collapsing. It will get worse.
“So, the issue now is: How do we arrest this drift? There is no country in the world that will be in a similar situation where you have over 98 million people living in poverty and not be a security threat,” the former governor said.