For Nigeria to succeed in the arduous task of nation building with sustainable wealth creation in 21st century, Nigeria needs men and women that comprehend and appreciate the complexity of the modern political economy in the emerging 21st century. Innovations, superb intellectuality, prudence and scientific breakthroughs are the hallmarks of greatness in the emerging 21st century.
Peter Obi, the former governor of Anambra State, is a Nigerian politician that can be describe as a personality of a 21st century caliber that understands politics and economy, with a conscience grounded on private enterprise and enriched with an experience on public policy he derived as a former governor of Anambra State. He is an astute business executive and an intellectual politician of first order.
His public policy understanding, prowess and scope together with his experience as a business executive was vividly portrayed and embellished in his write up on the – Confronting the Challenges of Nation Building in Nigeria. His logicality and reasoning shows a serious mind and a dedicated citizenship that is willing to apply his best for the greater good of our country Nigeria.
I always maintained that nobody is born a patriot, for the love of God, country and family is a deliberate act. Again the greatest act of love anyone can show his country is to cherish it. A patriot is an enlighten and dedicated citizen that comprehends the social, political and economic interdependence of citizenship and country.
Obi elaborated in his write up that an economic disruption must not be used as a tool to vilify policy makers especially those of them that are dedicated to the progress of the country. He gave instance about the Russian currency weakening in value due to nosedive of oil price. He reiterated that Putin was not blamed but rather the people of Russia rallied around their leader. His words:
“For instance, the Russian Rubbles has lost over 40% of its value. About 11% of that 40% was lost on Tuesday last week alone. But the Russians are not blaming Putin, or calling its government names. They are rather holding together and struggling to come out of it stronger. Over 25,000 have been reported missing in Mexico the last 18 months or so, including 42 students killed and buried by gangsters. But the Mexicans are not blaming their government, or running their nation down in the media. Some 145 students were recently murdered in Pakistan by Talibans, but without the Pakistanis blaming their Prime Minister, or accusing their government of insensitivity. That is why Nigerians should give themselves a rap on the shoulder and say: “Hey, no one out there is coming to solve our problems for us, if we don’t solve them.”
Obi was making a valid point. It is not necessary to blame Nigerian leadership and policy makers for the falling oil price that has subsequently lessened the value of naira. The point is for all Nigerians to come together irrespective of their political views and philosophy to find ways and methodologies fend off the ramification of falling oil price and the further deterioration of naira as currency speculation surges.
Obi gave Nigeria wider understanding of the universality of the falling oil price and continuous weakening of currencies of oil producing nations. Obi elaborated further with the below commentary:
“Global oil prices have lost about 40% of its value since June. Russia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and all oil producing countries are devising survival strategies, so Nigerians must stay together and support our president at a time like this; especially when he is working round the clock with his economic team to get things right. The nation is not even so badly hit today because we eventually listened the CME’s sustained call for savings at all levels. I recall having attended many meetings as then governor of Anambra, during which she reminded everyone that the price of oil could fall at any time and that we needed to boost national savings, presenting establishment of the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) as another way of achieving targeted saving and long term investment. But the voice of the majority initially drowned her repeated pleas about saving for the rainy day. The louder chorus was “Let’s spend now! The rainy day is already here! In fact is already flooding!” Meanwhile, it was only drizzling at the time! Fortunately, the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority was set up after a long and has financed the Abuja-Kaduna rail, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and the Second Niger Bridge, among other projects.”
Obi views on the issue of budgets and its constraints were impressive due to his understanding of the knots and bolts of fiscal budgets. It must be recognized that due to the nosedive of oil price, there must be some alterations and fiscal modifications on the budget. He gave a quantifiable credit to the Honorable Okonjo-Iweala , the minister of finance, for her financial prudence and expertise. He thanked President Jonathan and his economic team for their safeguard and sustenance of macroeconomic stability of Nigerian economy:
“The point being made here is that our challenges are as real as the government’s tackling of them. We must hold together as people and also thank God for the determination of Mr President and his Economic Management Team, to set the economy on a strong macro-economic footing.”
A grasp of knowledge of budgetary matters was highlighted. Obi’s commentary and analysis sound professorial with repository tinge, prudence and sophistication:
“The 2015 budget is also pegged on increasing Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and diversifying the economy. It ties the expected increase in IGR to projected inputs into the economy, which would reflate local economies and increase Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The FIRS is to increase IGR but not necessarily by increasing the taxes. It is blocking leakages and institutional weaknesses in tax administration and increasing the collection rates. Besides the official target of N1.98 trillion, the FIRS was given an additional target of N75 billion, which it overshot and declared N143 billion extra as at last month. This shows that the new collection target of additional $3 billion dollars in three years for FIRS announced by the CME is realisable, as its Integrated Tax Administration System (ITAS, which targets a re-engineering and automating of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) core tax administration processes, will yield a seamless, integrated solution that incorporates international best practices for revenue administration with clear monitoring and evaluation systems.”
Finally, this is my take on the Peter Obi’s conscience of greatness. Nigeria is now at a cross road of history making. If we do the right thing and work together as one people and eschew bitterness; Nigeria will sit on the front row of 21st century table of greatness. Despite the gyration of supply and demand of oil due to nosedive of oil price that has affected the value of naira. Nigeria stands a better chance in building a bulwark against the falling oil price due to diversification of the country’s GDP and her enhanced macroeconomics stability.
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