Peter Obi is pragmatic; an intellectual and a visionary leader. These are the best adjectives to describe his performance at Chatham House in London.
Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party was invited by Chatham House, a global recognized think tank to speak and dialogue on his vision for policy and governance reforms in Nigeria, including the priorities for tackling deep-rooted insecurity and corruption, and measures to promote social and political mobility for Nigerian citizens.”
The symposium was well attended and people from different walks of life especially Nigerians were in attendance. The room could not contain the mammoth crowd, which extended to the outside of Chatham House premises.
First and foremost , after the procedural introductory obligations, Mr. Obi read his statement on his policy and governmental reforms for Nigeria for his presidency. Eventually, he took questions from the audience in the room, including those coming from the social media.
The Question and Answers session was where Obi displayed his masterly prowess on the art of policy analysis. His vivid understanding of the problems confronting Nigeria and the policy remedy cannot be over emphasized.
Obi displayed his understanding of policy with his comparative analysis and observation between Nigeria and South Africa, as he spoke on the electric power failure in Nigeria.
He said, “You have heard them say we don’t have structure, that structure is the one that has dismantled Nigeria. We will destroy that structure of criminality, I assure you of it.
“We’re going to turn around the power sector. Nigeria today generates 5,000 to 6,000 megawatts for 200 million people and South Africa, the second biggest in terms of economy on the continent, 60 million people, generates over 40,000 megawatts, yet, they have declared an emergency in the power sector.
“I have said that anyone can generate up to 100,000 megawatts without a licence.
“If a country with 60 million population generating over 40,000MW is declaring an emergency on power, what do you think somebody with two million people generating 5,000 to 6,000MW will do? War!
Speaking on the wellbeing and health of a nation , he said“On the issue of health, yes we have a problem with health. We have under-invested because our government has not prioritised our development agenda,”
“Everybody knows that the only measure of development acceptable globally today is the human development index. And this depends on three items –health being one of them.
“From 2015 to 2021, the Nigerian budget in health is under N2.5 trillion for 200 million people. It’s unacceptable. Even this year, our budget for health is about N1.5 trillion. Our budget for education is about N2 trillion.
“Two of them combined, the annual budget is about N3.5 trillion whereas your six months’ budget for subsidy which is a criminalised thing is N3.6 trillion. It is not acceptable.”
One of Obi’s cardinal policies centered on transforming Nigeria from a consumption to productive entity was buttressed when he was answering a question on borrowing.
He said, “There’s nothing wrong with borrowing. Borrowing is legitimate and every government I’ve studied in the world borrows, even Britain as we speak owes 70 per cent of their GDP. Every government I know, lives on borrowing.
“Norway, with $1.4 trillion sovereign wealth, is owing. The economies of the world, even the biggest economy in the world, America, is owing almost 100 per cent of their GDP. The second largest economy, China, is owing almost 70 per cent, while Japan is owing over 230 per cent of their GDP. But let me tell you the difference.
“Japan is owing 230 per cent of their GDP but they invested the money to save their economy and even with that, Japan is still the largest holder of the US treasuries, so there’s something they can fall back on. So borrowing is not wrong.
“But what has happened is that when you borrow for consumption, you have a crisis. Nigeria in 2015 had a per capita income of $2,500, we were owing about N15tn. Today, with the central bank’s ways and means, we are owing about N75tn, so we have grown that debt profile by over 400 per cent. That means that the money we borrowed was thrown away.”
He further said that he will fight corruption and then the “Investors will come back, those who left and those who are leaving will come back, we want to bring them back. Nigerians are prepared to come back if they can find that they have a country to go back too. This green passport, Nigerians must be proud to use it again.!”
All the hallmarks of a true leader were observed on his final outing to the Chatham House, before the February 2023 presidential election. It appears that Peter Obi and his running mate, Dr. Ahmed Datti are ready for the arduous task of a new Nigeria,
Emeka Chiakwelu is a Strategist@ AFRIPOL