Presidential Candidate of the Labour Party in the 2023 election, Peter Obi, is of the opinion that Nigeria might be in a very critical position at the moment, however, all hope is far from lost.
At an event on Sunday put together by the Columbia Africa Business Club and the Black Law Students Association at Columbia University, Mr Obi said while all seems bleak for the nation, there are great chances of turning her fate around.
“I will say that while Nigeria’s situation is critical; it is not yet hopeless. That might be a cliché, but that is the reality,” the former Anambra State governor asserted.
He reiterated that in the mission to rescue Nigeria, there is no tribe, religion, or class. “Indeed, there can be no conscientious objector,” Obi declared.
The LP Flagbearer said he is immensely proud of the Nigerian diaspora community, noting that their contributions has played a huge role to the nation’s growth.
“Just over a month ago, on July 25, we celebrated the nearly 20 million Nigerians in the diaspora who contribute to the growth and development of our incredible country. We celebrated you.”
Speaking ahead of 2023, Obi said his administration will pursue the global best practices and standards within available resource.
Tackling the issue of education, he disclosed that certainly, the medium and long term, 14% budgetary funding for education is within the realm of possibility.
“We will strive to be globally competitive by increasing funding and ensuring that the (TETFund) resources are redirected to the funding of the Universities and other higher institutions robustly with a view to ending the perennial shrikes by University Staff and workers.
“Within available national resources and (TetFund), there should be funds to reasonably tackle the problems of our tertiary institutions and prevent ASUU strikes. Unfortunately, due to State Capture, TetFund has been grossly mismanaged.
“We intend to change extant and enabling policies to make access to such funds seamless, transparent and dedicated for prescribed purposes.
“We are challenged by high youth unemployment, which stands at 33.3%; 54% for the youth; and 20 million out-of-school-children. We must give this country back to the Nigerian youths. Half of our 200 million people are below the age of 30.
“The median age of this country stands at 17.9, showing that Nigeria has the incredible potentials to develop, if she harnesses the demographic dividends intelligently,” Mr Obi stated.
According to him, “harnessing our national youth strength must start with curbing the high youth unemployment and creating funding access to enable our youths become entrepreneurs and drivers of our Small and Medium Scale enterprises(SMEs).
“We must fund education more robustly, by tweaking the UBEC and TETFund.”
As regards the economy, the ex-Anambra governor explained that economics is driven by the laws of efficiency and as such, the nation must return to the path of production that results in production and wealth creation, and eventually results in massive employment and poverty alleviation.
“As a nation, we must look beyond oil. Whatever oil we have will be refined domestically. We will look to solar and other clean energy, especially gas.
“We have over 84 million hectares of arable land. Barely 40% of this arable land is cultivated today. Nigeria’s arable land is her new oil and gold. We will put our land to work for us. We will grow excess grains and use that for clean energy.
“Flutterwave, on its own, was recently valued at US$3 billion. We will create an enabling environment for our startups to thrive. Beyond creating access to easy funding, we will enforce the legal framework protecting foreign investors and their indigenous partners.
“This is the only way to improve our business environment and tamper capital flight.
“We will stop borrowing for consumption. All loans must be invested in regenerative projects.
“Inflation is a factor of spending on goods and services outstripping production. Since we have not resolved the minimum wage issue, we will not use wage and price controls to fight inflation. Rather, we will pursue a contractionary monetary policy. We will mop up excess liquidity by reducing the money supply within an economy.
“The truth is that for long, market forces have not determined the exchange rate of the Naira. The two-tier foreign exchange regime is a fluke. It has to end. Let the exchange rate be determined by the forces of demand and supply. It is that simple.
“Beneficiaries of China’s goodwill and investments in Africa are many. So too are the countries defaulting on their Chinese loans.
“The trend is deeply alarming. Salutary, as it may seem, we must approach such engagement with our national interest uppermost in our minds,” Obi expostulated.
He stressed that the nation must fight greed and impunity that breeds corruption, adding that his administration’s total commitment to rule of law, due process, transparency and accountability in government business will be instrumental to achieving limited to zero corruption.