*Nigerian ports don’t work-Obi
*Nigeria listed as failed state in assessment index
A priority concern to most Nigerian leaders and electorate as the 2023 general elections inch closer every day is how to rescue the parlous economy that seems to have defied all recovery strategies under the ruling party, All Progressives Congress(APC). This line of thought punctuates the speeches of all the emerging presidential aspirants under the 18 registered political parties, surprisingly, APC inclusive.
To some politicians, the hope of a new nation is dependent on the Third Force because APC and the People’s Democratic Party(PDP) in turns, took Nigeria to the nadir of its nationhood, where it has been listed among the fragile failing states in the world.
The founder of New Nigeria People’s Party(NNPP),Dr.Boniface Aniebonam said the party is being repositioned to emerge as the emerging political Third Force for all progressives in search of a new Nigeria.
Former governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi,who is a presidential aspirant under the PDP painted a grim picture of the country with an assertion that Nigeria has emerged as a failed state by all assessment indices, noting that many Nigerians in due course will begin to migrate to other countries as refugees if the nation is not redirected on a path of recovery.
Obi who spoke while addressing members of the Board of Trustees of PDP in Abuja recently posited that the country needs a leader who has the capacity to transform small businesses to growth and create wealth, presented himself for service.
“I’m Peter Obi and I am a successful businessman in Nigeria and I understand how to solve the problems that would make the private sector drive the nation’s economy. I know how to ensure that small businesses thrive to be able to grow and create jobs. I know how to direct the banks to do the right thing.
He reiterated that Nigeria has lost its value:“The country you used to know, the one you were part of building is no longer there. 2023 is another opportunity for the country to start rebuilding again. If we get it wrong, it may not take time before some of us become refugees somewhere else. If you look at the list of fragile failing states, Nigeria tops the list. On the list of terrorized nations, Nigeria is number 3 and jointly third with Afghanistan and Yemen.”
He said,”Nigeria is currently the capital of poverty in the world, a position the nation has occupied since 2019. Nigeria has more people living in poverty than those in the two most populous countries in the world. China and India are 2.8billion but Nigeria is 200million which is less than 10 percent of China and India, but we have more people living in poverty than both nations combined. There are over 50million Nigerian children out of schools and close to 70 percent of them have never been to school before. They never experienced school, talk less of coming out of it. Nigeria is the most stressful place for people to live in according to the stress level index.’”
“We have the highest unemployment with over 33 percent but when you include underemployment, you have 55 percent. Unfortunately, 60 percent are young people in their productive age but they are doing nothing. They are at the age where they should be the engine of production in the country but they have nothing to do.
“In the first quarter of 2022, Nigeria has overtaken India in infant mortality ahead of experts’ speculation that this would happen in 2024. In drug prevalence, the global rate is 4.8 percent but Nigeria is 14.9 percent and it is 70 percent among the young ones. The list of these anomalies is endless.” He noted.
Obi drew the attention of his audience to the sullen debt profile of the nation, saying,“The debt level of this nation is also appalling as Nigeria is using over 80 percent of its revenue to service debts and I can tell you that this could be over 100 percent by the end of the year. In this first five months of last year, Nigeria generated N1.87trillion and used N1.82trillion to service debts which represent 98 percent. In 2021, the nation’s budget was over N13trillion and the plan was to borrow N4trillion but the government ended up borrowing N6.7trillion. This year, the budget is N17trillion and the plan is to borrow only N7trillion and generate N10trillion. However, I don’t know how a country can survive with this level of debts and every day we hear from the government that the nation doesn’t have a borrowing problem but a revenue problem. Revenue comes from production but Nigeria isn’t productive.
“The engine for employment which is Micro Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) is suffering in Nigeria and no one is doing anything about it. China and India don’t operate their government and economy like Nigeria. I was in Morocco for almost one week recently and I travelled round the country and engaged their leaders, they also don’t operate like Nigeria. In Morocco, they have debts like most countries of the world
According to him,”I visited Bangladesh in 2010 and I spent over one week in the villages of Bangladesh. This country was far poorer than Nigeria and in 2010 they were below Nigeria in the Human Developmental Index (HDI). Today, they have moved to medium level while Nigeria is still struggling and receding in the low. At that time, Bangladesh had a GDP of $115billion with a per capita income of $700 each and Nigeria had $375billion GDP and $2,250 per capita income with foreign debts of less than $25billion. Today, Bangladesh GDP is $335billion with a per capita income of $2050 which is three times their figures in 2010. Nigeria’s GDP today is about $420billion and per capita income has reduced to $2000 and the nation’s debts have moved from about $25billion to over $100billion. So, the additional monies borrowed didn’t contribute to the nation’s GDP or per capita income because it wasn’t put into production. These borrowed funds were thrown away.
“Nigeria isn’t the first country that had a poverty problem. In 1990, over 98 percent of China’s population was living under poverty, but today they have less than 2 percent living under poverty. From 2000 to 2015, China pulled over 435million people out of poverty. In 1990, Vietnam had 97 percent of her population living under poverty, today they have just 1.6 percent living under poverty. Bangladesh is another example and there are also examples in Africa with Egypt and Morocco.
“Egypt with 100million people has more diaspora remittances than Nigeria. They invested in education and improved their HDI and close to high HDI. Ghana, Nigeria and Bangladesh all had low HDI a few years ago but Nigeria remains on low while other nations have moved to medium.
He made a solemn plea. “My plea to you is not to bequeath your grandchildren anarchy. It’s not just about the election and who will be the next president. It’s not about who will be able to share the nation’s resources because there is nothing to share anymore. We need wealth creators now. This isn’t a time for rascality. We need someone who can build tangible and intangible assets and someone who can stand and plead with colleagues globally to assist this nation.
“Nigeria seaports don’t work. I went to Morocco to see how their ports work. Morocco, with one-seventh of Nigeria’s population, has the biggest seaport in Africa that does three times the cargo traffic of Nigeria. Last year, Morocco exported over $40billion without having crude oil and Nigeria earns $18billion from crude oil exports and they are telling us that 98 percent is being stolen. Morocco with a quarter of Nigeria’s land space exported agro-products of over $8billion last year.
“In Nigeria, we have Niger State with 76,000 sq km of land and we are talking about food shortage. The Netherlands, with 33,000 sq km of land, was able to export over $120billion worth of agricultural materials. What are we doing in Nigeria? How can we get things to work instead of running around and creating nothing?
Meanwhile, NNPP, one of the oldest political parties in Nigeria that has survived the gale of deregistration by the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) in the last twenty years under different regimes and INEC chairmanship has lately begun to attract political big-wigs from the two mainstream political parties-APC and PDP.
Former governor of Kano State and Minister of Defence,Rabiu Kwakwanso in company of his supporters, recently defected to NNPP from PDP.
Dr. Aniebonam said that a Third Force is possible because Nigerians are looking for value-driven leadership that can guarantee sustainable future and rein-in all the prevailing regional agitations. He said his party’s new leadership has offered the platform for a national renaissance, urging Nigerians to come on board but be mindful of voting for credible candidates come 2023 and not party having assured Nigerians that NNPP does not present credible personalities for elections but screens aspirants to ensure that they meet the expected benchmarks.