Former governor of Anambra State and vice presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Obi, has said every part of the country should be treated with equity but that the South East has not been treated fairly.
He said this yesterday on the Arise News Morning show while answering questions on the possibility of a South East presidency in 2023.
He said there were people who could govern this country effectively and who have the capacity to turn the economy around for good, but that Nigeria’s flawed electoral process would not allow it.
“It is only fair that you treat every part of the nation fairly and equally. Are Igbos being treated fairly? The answer is no…For me, I believe we should restructure this country in such a way that every part of the country would be competitive and we would get the best out of our resources,” Obi said.
On the 2020 budget, Obi described it as ‘empty’, saying it would not enhance production and growth of the micro, small and medium scale industries.
“We have not looked at the quantum of the budget compared to the size of the country. I have made a study of the budget of about 24 countries and I have followed it religiously and I can give you an example of what is happening. Let us use examples of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, Indonesia, China and South Africa) nations and the MINT economies (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Turkey.) Of all these countries, there is none whose budget is less than 15 percent of its GDP except Nigeria. Brazil has a population of 210 million people, with a GDP of three billion, their budget is 803 trillion dollars. Nigeria has a population of 200 million people and a GDP of $400 billion and the budget for 2018 was $22 billion. If you look at all these countries and share their budget with their population, you will see that Nigeria is the worst yet none of them have more than five percent of their people living under poverty. In our own case, 50 percent of our people are living under poverty and our budget is so low.
“This 2020 budget that we are clapping about is not up to the Indonesia’s budget for education. So, we have a crisis and we need to look at what these countries are doing right that we are not doing. The budget that you think is big is empty in itself and to worsen it, you cannot fund it. Raising revenue is very simple. The only way to increase revenue is to create more employment. The more people are employed, the more revenue you get. If you pull 40 million people out of poverty, you can increase revenue through the tax they pay. But you are not creating jobs and you are now over-taxing the few who are struggling to make ends meet. Are you going to tax jobless people? Or will you tax those whose businesses are already closing?
“I spoke about debt in 2017 but because I’m just a trader and I don’t work in World Bank, no one listens to me. Our debt is toxic. There is nothing wrong in borrowing if we are borrowing for production. If you are borrowing for consumption, you have a crisis because you can’t pay it and that is why we are having problems today.”
He criticised governors who owe workers salaries but want to re-contest elections saying: “You can’t do it anywhere else in the world. But here, because the governor knows he can rig and manipulate the process, he can say it arrogantly that he will re-contest. It is only in Nigeria that you will see a governor owing salaries, yet he will be throwing money to people from his car and no one is saying anything.”