Barely two weeks after I published ‘If I were the president, I will listen’ the nation is up in flames with youths across the country protesting against police brutality under the hashtag #EndSARS. In the said opinion article, I observed that the president is not listening and that it is high time he paused and gauge the temperature of the nation.
I had asked him to listen to the cries of the 13.5 million Nigerians who voted and elected him as president, and also to those who did not vote for him as all those voices seem to be singing the same sad tune of lamentation, disappointment and frustration. The inflation rate has grown beyond 23%, the highest reading from 2015. Unemployment rate is well over 30%. Nigeria debt profile is at N31.3 trillion ($85.9 billion) with debt owed to predatory China reaching $3.121 billion.
The exchange rate of Dollar to the Naira hovers around N420 -N470 to $1 from N150 in 2015. In the N13.8 trillion Budget Expenditure for 2021, 52.3% will be utilized for debt servicing and payment of salaries. These are very scary statistics.
It is infantile for anyone to believe the ongoing protest by angry youths is simply about ending SARS. SARS and the police though corrupt organisations are only triggers. Never seen a leadership so much out of touch from the real world like the current regime.
It’s one real harm against the people after the other. Following the outbreak of COVID-19, schools and businesses were locked down. Consequently, millions of people in the private sector had not received salaries or out of job because businesses were either skeletal or completely shut down, yet the government that looted or diverted palliatives meant for citizens had the thoughtlessness to increase petroleum pump price, electricity tariff , VAT, property and other taxes all at a swoop.
Where do they expect the people to get the money from to pay for the new tariffs and taxes? This is the callousness fuelling the ongoing protest. In case the president is not aware, the suffering in the land is too much.
People are angry and hungry. I find people begging for food and money on the streets. The roads are bad and there is general insecurity across the country. It’s deaths, kidnappings and killings everywhere.
This protest you see is not just about police brutality, it’s about the insensitivity, corruption and general incompetence characterizing the current government. Those who still love this country must begin serious thinking and conversation about a post-Buhari presidency and the character of the president that we need to navigate the future. Whether on the basis of zoning or by merit, we have well qualified people who can put Nigeria back on the path of growth and prosperity.
In this episode, I will amplify the qualities of Mr. Gregory Peter Obi, the former Governor of Anambra State, a man whose involvement in politics is service. The Obi I know is a good man, he’s decent, selfless and sincere, resourceful and always willing to be helpful, a solution provider, good listener, highly productive, punctual, humble and well prepared. He is by far one of the smartest and most brilliant politicians coming out of the South-East in recent time.
He has an excellent reputation for integrity and outstanding character. He has the capacity to inspire and earn the trust of our restless youths who have lost trust and confidence in the political class.
The youth will see him for who he is, a role model and a steady hand against an uncertain future. Only an enemy will attack Obi’s impeccable record of public office. When I see people attack his reputation and integrity, I shudder in disbelief and hoped such attacks backfire because you don’t denigrate a man who is tested and likeable. As governor he didn’t allow public office to corrupt him or change him.
A post-Buhari presidency will require a leader with global exposure, business and political experience to navigate the delicate process of uniting Nigeria and midwifing an economic rebirth. Those youths on the streets, nearly 100 million Nigerian youths need jobs. We need a leader with the capacity to create a productive economy that will provide the much-needed jobs, and a system of education that will equip the youth with the right skills to become employable or self-reliant.
We need a president who understands this, who the global community will trust if we must attract the much-needed direct foreign investments. No matter what view one takes of post-Buhari Presidency, Peter Obi stands tall as a steady hand who can be trusted to fix our broken politics, fix our unity, end general insecurity and grow the economy. As Governor of Anambra State, he maintained a very cordial relationship with all the faiths and religions, including the elites and political class. He treated everyone as an equal deserving of complete respect. As president he will maintain the same social harmony across board. Facts are sacred.
Obi inherited a dysfunctional state where the civil service operated from makeshift kiosks. The state was in debt and owed arrears of unpaid pensions and salaries. Education was backward as the average male child did not progress beyond Junior Secondary School. Obi changed all these. By the time he left office, he bequeathed his successor with over N75 billion and no single debt profile.
His accomplishments is a clear demonstration that he is worthy of higher office. 2023 will be about big issues; the future of the republic, the unity of the country, security of lives and property Vs. Insecure borders that allow indiscriminate influx of armed migrants and militias, frugal management of the economy, lower tariff v. higher tariff etc. If 2023 boils down to zoning of the presidency to the South, I am confident the South-East will be proud to offer Peter Obi as her best choice to serve as president of all Nigeria, a duty he will discharge diligently with honour and dignity. With Obi as president, no part of Nigeria will be left behind.
As governor of Anambra State, he was instrumental in fast tracking development across the state. Through prudent management of resources, the state boasts of the best network of roads. The state became among the very best in education. He grew the state from a debtor state to sufficiency. If given the chance to lead a post-Buhari presidency he will not turn his back on any part of Nigeria, he will not turn his back on retirees and pensioners, they will not be forgotten men and women. He will not turn his back on the labour union. The unemployed will not be forgotten. He will create millions of jobs by investing heavily in production.
He will create millions of small businesses and bring back the big businesses that left Nigeria. He will provide them tax credits and other necessary incentives. For those afraid of power shift for sundry reasons, let me assure that as president, Peter Obi will not do any of those things they are afraid of. No section of the country will be marginalised and Nigeria will not disintegrate under his watch. We will be out of this hole. As a man of faith, his oath of office will be a promise to the nation.