By Cecilia Ologunagba
The Labour Party flag-bearer for the 2023 Nigeria presidential election, Mr Peter Obi has pledged to increase electricity generation, address brain drain, and implement Diaspora voting, among others if elected.
Obi made the pledge on Sunday at Columbia University, New York while having conversation on economic and government policy with the Columbia’s Africa Business Club, Black Law Students Association, and the Nigerian Diaspora in New York.
This event is part of his “Good Governance Series: The role of Nigeria’s Diaspora” in the U.S., having visited five states, viz North Carolina, Texas, Washington DC, Atlanta and California.
Obi said that South Africa which produces 50,000 megawatts of electricity had recently declared a state of emergency in the power sector for those who can generate below 100 megawatts without licence.
“But Nigeria generates 4,000 megawatts of electricity but did not declare emergency in the power sector,’’ he said.
He told the gathering that he knew what to do and asked them to give him the opportunity to turn his plans and vision for Nigeria into reality.
“I don’t have solution to all problems and leaders don’t, but I will consult when I need to consult,’’ he said.
The Presidential candidate said he would turn brain drain to brain in Nigeria, urging Nigerians in Diaspora to be investors instead of doing social welfare for people to eat and do burials.
On Diaspora voting, Obi said 2023 would be the last time Nigerians in the Diaspora would not vote, noting that if other countries in Africa can do it, Nigeria can also do it.
Speaking on the economy, he said Nigeria was blessed with rich land resources but lacked good leaders to harness the resources.
“Netherlands generated 120 billion dollars in agricultural export in 2021 and Nigeria has a land mass bigger than Netherlands but most states in Nigeria don’t contribute to the national purse but only take,’’ he said.
He lamented the rate of corruption in Nigeria, saying, “Corruption kills entrepreneurship, professionalism, and hard work.
“So, we must fight corruption through the President, his wife, and ministers by being honest.
He gave example of “Universal Basic Education Board (UBEB) fund where the money belongs to the Local Government Authorities (LGAs) but Federal Government gives the funds to States and States gives it to the LGs’’, Obi said.
He wondered why the money could not be given to LGAs directly from Federal Government and that going through the States reduced what got to LGAs.
Obi said he pushed for the funds to be given directly to LGAs during his tenure as Governor.
The candidate also wondered why the Federal Government could not dialogue with ASUU to call off the strike while the government could dialogue with bandits.
On borrowing, he said there was nothing wrong about borrowing but frowned at borrowing for consumption.
“We consumed what we borrowed and so it didn’t add to our growth. We should borrow for production. America and China borrow.
“All the G7 countries borrow so nothing wrong in debt but we should use debt to keep our economy growing,’’ he said.
In addition, he said 2023 election would not be about right, saying, don’t vote for me because I am from the southeast. If you go to the North, it is not safer than the South.
“It will not be about religion; Muslims don’t buy bread cheaper than the Christians.
“2023 election will not be about my turn; it’s not anybody’s turn. It is not a chieftaincy title; it’s about election. It will not be about connection,’’ he said.
According to him, when people say Peter Obi does not have structure, let me tell you, the structure they are talking about is the structure of criminality, structure of corruption; that is the structure I want to dismantle.
“2023 election will be about character we can trust, competence, capacity, commitment to do the right thing.’’
Earlier, Obi had met with some Nigerians in Germany, Italy, and Canada over his presidential ambition and plans to move Nigeria into a better country.
He also visited the Vatican City in Rome, where he attended the ceremony where a Nigerian, Bishop Peter Okpaleke of Ekwulobia Diocese, was elevated to a Cardinal in the Catholic Church (NAN)