Peter Obi: The change Nigerians seek — PT 2 (October 6, 2016)

His audiences were swayed with the fact that his espoused theory correlated with his theory-in-use which are verifiable.

That is the boiling point at which his exposition went viral and thrilled the internet and social media. He called on the youth to take back their country.

For instance, he mentioned how he saved the state N500 million to be used in building a presidential lodge when former President Obasanjo visited his state in which he allowed OBJ to sleep in his house, while he checked into a hotel that cost less than N1 million.

With references to outspoken people like OBJ who can easily debunk such claims if they were fictitious, everyone knew that this man wasn’t bluffing or making things up. He was damn serious.

A reflection on his speech indicated he is the real example of the austere lifestyle which our current president espouses but does little to follow in his theory-in-use.

When you remember that Buhari increased Aso Rock budget and has only taken off only 2 out of 11 jets (that was even recently after Peter Obi’s speech) that cost us billions to maintain, the flamboyant lifestyle of our first lady and many other germane issues, it’s no doubt that Peter Obi was revealing to Nigeria an approach to governance which they desired so much.

Not long after that speech, armchair critics and an online mob which cannot appreciate the crucial lessons in effective governance style of Peter Obi which is exactly what we need in this period of recession went to town with barrages of smear campaigns to instigate and allege many ills against the man who has taken the shine off President Buhari on independence day.

Those who have taken an affront on his rising profile and popularity are angry that we may have found a Nigerian who actually practised frugality and lean management in governance, not just by mere verbal persuasion and well-packaged perception over a long time.

They ask: why did he not advise GEJ to pursue his lean management approach?

Why did he not conduct local government elections and why did he pocket the funds meant for development at the LGA?

Others quipped that his thriftiness is in fact inimical for development because much needed expenditures were withdrawn.

Some accuse him of abandoning APGA for the PDP and not building the party after using it as a platform to achieve his dreams and also for falling out with Gov Obiano who he helped to become governor.

However, this particular set of people who are mostly the columnists you will find in a section of the Nigerian news media coupled with their online mob, mostly of Igbo extraction whose unbridled sycophancy which has assumed dangerous dimensions will fail to tell you that Peter Obi left the state as one of the least indebted state with N17bn in debts and savings of N75bn.

He built visible infrastructure which has attracted wide acclaim.

He established a model of development which raised the bar and has set high standards for his successor, Gov Obiano.

He has made taxpayers in Anambra subscribe to the idea of contributing to the development of the state through their taxes as opposed to the anti-tax behaviour of the average Nigerian citizen.

I can remember with nostalgia seeing some Anambraians or those passing through Upper Iweka being chased about by tax collectors.

It used to be a pathetic and funny spectacle because these tax collectors often looked haggard and the way and manner they pounce on an unsuspecting passerby is a scene to behold.

As one writer who interacted with taxpayers in Onitsha, Anambra State put it, the residents are happy to pay taxes.

Onitsha which is notorious as a dirty and disorganised town has taken a new look, as you come in from the River Niger bridge and head to Upper Iweka, the well-constructed expressway with good drainage gives you the idea that anyone who was the immediate past governor either attracted the FG to fix the road or fixed this road and many others themselves to admirable levels.

Some also state that Peter Obi didn’t industrialize Anambra and I’m well aware that Innoson Motors started during his tenure and he patronized the company.

And that Onitsha famed for the “Main Market” which is the largest market in West Africa has seen many more international markets developed when he was in charge and others still under development.

For those who drink beer, many of them do not know that the brewer of Hero beer is located on the banks of the River Niger in Onitsha and it was built during Obi’s time as governor.

If Peter Obi had distributed all the savings to the ministries, LGA caretakers and/or LGA chairmen, his predecessor would have been lamenting like Buhari.

How they want him to school a president on savings is absurd.

I have not seen any APC governor school Buhari on his policies and catastrophic handling of the economy even though the mistakes of the administration are glaring and obvious even to the novices in our midst.

Just this week, World Bank and IMF have delayed loans to us because we have no economic macro-framework in place for discussions.

Which governor will call Buhari out as they wanted Peter Obi to have done to Jonathan?

As one prolific writer noted, Peter Obi gave account of his stewardship and he was not grandstanding for immediate gratification of votes from the citizens.

Even if he was posturing for 2019, he has done so on the basis of accountability which gives enough room for those who have taken up arms and grudges instead of investigative dispelling and debunking of all the claims he made.

It took only a few days for the lies and falsehood contained in the president’s speech to be unmasked.

Those who accuse Peter Obi of not advising Goodluck Jonathan or asking where he was when the governors were pressuring the former president to share our savings are irrational.

If 35 state governors wanted the president to disburse the savings we had at that time, could Peter Obi stop them?

He took his own share and saved N75 billion for Anambra state which has given the state the leverage, financial muscle and resilience to withstand the recession and not go bankrupt like Osun State.

The twisted logic of public commentators which smirks of hypocrisy and partisanship is eating into the fabrics of our society like cancer.

We have seen how the Buhari’s presidency which promised change has suddenly been jerked to consciousness.

It has put up 2 of the 11 aircrafts and helicopters in the presidential fleet up for sale.

However, we have a government which has sustained the cost of running governance from the last administration and in fact has increased its budgets by outrageous amount.

We are aware of the huge delegation of over 100 people including the president’s family to the United Nations 71st Assembly with pomp and pageantry amidst the economic downturn.

No political office holder in this country has taken a pay cut neither have they reduced their allowances and cost of governance aside the cosmetic salary cut of Buhari and the VP last year.

Saudi Arabia’s administrators have taken 20% pay and allowance cut amidst the global crude oil downturn.

It was in this country that Lai Muhammad defended the use of 5 cars in his convoy as against 6 that was speculated.

All we did was consolidation of MDAs so those who financed elections could utilize contracts to realize campaign investments.

I have argued before now that if this government is humane and realizes that Nigeria is in recession, we can save nothing less than N100 billion from the cost of running the Federal government.

Believe me, that amount is enough to feed all the IDPs and return that region to normal, given that the funds are not embezzled.

Donations inform of aids should be a plus for more development but we have enough to cater for basic needs like food, water and shelter.

We are seeking foreign aids and our government houses and the presidency are overflowing with champagne and seedless grapes.

Ministers use several cars in their convoy and allowances of political office holders cost Nigeria hundreds of billions of naira.

The National Assembly alone cost Nigeria N115 billion. The Senators has just donated N300, 000 each to help IDPs.

These set of people should have had their salaries and allowances halved so that the savings can be deployed to their constituencies and troubled areas.

We have been inundated with reports of over N5 billion spent on maintaining the presidential fleet when Nigerians go to sleep hungry.

Think about the number of Nigerians who can be fed with N5 billion naira.

So all the vitriol and mob action, against Peter Obi from a section of the online and traditional media from which such condemnations were expected, show that he has exposed the shortcomings of the present administration deeply.

A man who will take unprecedented measures of reining in the ostentatious cost of running government and freeing resources for development is what we need. They are irked that Peter Obi has emerged right before their eyes and has made mockery of the change agenda which the Nigerian people have unmasked as fraud. I will not be surprised if EFCC slams allegations on Peter Obi soon and detain him for several weeks just to stem his rising profile.

Igbo presidency is a tumultuous topic which many shy away from. But I will not tow that path. Igbo people have often been said not to produce leaders who could lead the country in recent times, but it has become obvious from Peter Obi’s testimony that we have a formidable, quintessential and exemplary leader in Peter Obi either for VP or president in 2019 and many more. If tribalism, partisan politics and religion will allow Nigerians reason without bias and in the wider interest of Nigeria, a Peter Obi and any other worthy Nigerian is a pragmatic ticket for 2019 under any of the major parties.

Buhari can be a hero of democracy and follow in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela of blessed memory and step aside in 2019 for another northerner in APC who can match a Peter Obi ticket in 2019 probably in PDP for pragmatic, proactive and efficient leadership which Nigeria is in dire need of.

Go and Google Peter Obi’s intimidating CV dotted with education received from the world’s premier educational institutions, Harvard inclusive, then you will realize how he was able to save N75 billion amidst the profligacy of many state governments like Lagos and Osun State which have burdened future generations with mountains of debts.

For those who wish to continue the campaign of calumny and poison the mind of Nigerians in order not to embrace Peter Obi and his truly austere lifestyle, frugal and lean management governance approach and hope on him as one of the formidable leaders that can challenge Buhari in 2019, they have failed.

Peter Obi reminds me of one Igbo adage which states that; you cannot cover the sun with your hands.

Go and tell the people where you live (your yard people), tell your friends, preach it everywhere, Peter Obi is the change Nigerians seek.

Team Member, Core Programmers at Union Bank of Nigeria.