Peter Obi is a true political leader

PETER OBI’S 62 PAGES MANIFESTO PUTS HIM IN A CLASS BY HIMSELF

Ozodi Osuji

      When Peter Obi announced that he is running to become the President of Nigeria, the first question that I asked was: where is his manifesto, a write-up delineating the goals and objectives (his proposed public policies for Nigeria) he plans to use the office of the presidency to accomplish. I could not find that write up. I wrote that he therefore seems to me like another Nigerian politician who talks but finds it difficult to write.

      It seemed to me that anyone with a bachelor’s degree could, in six months, write a book describing what he plans to do with whatever public office he seeks. I made the writing of a book of Obi’s proposed public policies a condition for me to support him.

     I was sick and tired of Nigerian politicians who seek offices without any concrete plans of what they want to accomplish for Nigerians, proposed public policies that we can hold them responsible for accomplishing or not accomplishing. In a rational human polity, we ought to judge politicians for what they, in fact, accomplished relative to what they said that they are going to accomplish; if they did not propose public policies for which they run for office what are the yardsticks with which we evaluate their performance, their behaviors while in office?

     If you have no goal, no destination, you are going to nowhere in particular, which so far is the political culture of Nigeria, politicians that have no goals and accomplish nothing.

     A people deserve the type of government they have because they elected those who rule them, or permitted them to rule them; if they elected those who did not tell them what they are going to do while in office why hold them responsible for accomplishing nothing?

      When I demanded to see Peter Obi’s political platform, someone told me that Obi is wise not to write his manifesto down on paper because other candidates might steal it. Really, I asked, why does it matter if other people steal his agenda? What matters is the agenda, if another person steals them and accomplishes them for Nigeria, Nigerians will still benefit from his proposals.

      Let us cut through the chase, Peter Obi finally has provided us with a sixty-two pages manifesto that he called “Our Pact with Nigerians: Creating a new Nigeria.” 

      Among other goals and objectives, he plans to work to transform Nigeria from a consumer nation to a producer and manufacturer nation, from an importer nation to an exporter nation (exporting both agricultural goods and manufactured goods); from a low industrialized nation to a highly industrialized nation, a nation that provides manufacturing jobs for its teeming youth population rather than allow them to be idle, roaming the streets and some seeking negative employment in criminal behaviors.

      He has plans to do something about the unprecedented insecurity in the nation, including beefing up Nigeria’s national security services, working to have each state have its own police so that there can be local policing, which, as we all know, contributes to knowing who criminals are, arresting and incarcerating them.

     He plans to do something about the runaway corruption in Nigeria by making folks who engage in corruption pay stiff penalties for their anti-social behaviors.

      He is going to make Nigeria stop relying mostly only on fossil fuel exports as the main means of generating income; there are other ways of generating incomes; the man said that he is going to improve the economic outlook of Nigeria, help most Nigerians have jobs and pay taxes so that Nigeria generates revenue from taxation and stop relying mostly on exporting crude oil.

PETER OBI IS A GENUINE POLITICAL LEADER

     For quite a while now, Nigerians have identified leadership as lacking in their country; they noted that the country would become developed and modernized if they had dedicated, committed, enthusiastic and passionate leaders working to attain identified developmental goals for Nigeria (please see Chinua Achebe’s little book, The Trouble with Nigeria).

     Leaders must have goals and objectives that they mobilize their country men and women working towards. If you recall, when the USSR (Russia) sent a man (Yuri Gagarin) into space, thus beating Americans into space, President John F Kennedy made his famous speech, to the effect that by the end of the 1960s decade that the USA would send a man to the moon (which was accomplished in 1969). He set a goal and mobilized the country’s scientific, technological and financial and other communities to work to accomplish that goal and it was accomplished.

      Peter Obi’s goals and objectives show him as a political leader. A leader posits goals and objectives that he believes that his group needs and gathers people and monetary resources and uses them in pursuit of the accomplishment of those goals and objectives.

      Peter Obi as the governor of Anambra state showed that he is a doer, not a mere talker and dreamer; he was an effective leader; he was not a mere visionary who plans but does not work to make his plans come to fruition. The man showed capacity to work twenty-four-seven in pursuit of his goals and objectives; there is no doubt that he would do the same thing at the federal level.

     Finally, we have a Nigerian politician who treats us like we are adults and ask us to vote for him because of what he plans to do for us not because he belongs to our ethnic group.

      I urge people to vote for Peter Obi regardless of his tribal affiliation; the man likes Nigerians and wants to lift them up, get them to become like the Asian Tigers of Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Malesia, Indonesia, and the Asian giants of China, Japan, and India.

     Because what Peter Obi just did is unique in Nigerian politics, he has excited many segments of Nigeria. Instead of me proffering my subjective opinion of him, let me share with the reader what other folks are saying about this fantastic person of action called Peter Obi.

      Here is how one Nigerian media outlet, Legit.ng (Naij.com media limited) effusively summarized Peter Obi’s manifesto:

    “The manifesto concentrated on critical areas like security, production, institutional reforms, the industrial revolution, infrastructural development, human capital development, and robust foreign policy. Page 18 of the manifesto reeled out Peter Obi’s economic plan for Nigeria as he proposed a change in basic assumptions from Nigeria being a consumption nation to a production nation. This page also itemizes how his administration intends to lead the charge for an industrial and agricultural revolution that will boost the exportation of Nigeria-made commodities. The manifesto reads: “Secure and unite our dear nation and manage our diversity such that no one is left behind in Nigeria. Move Nigeria from consumption to production and embark on comprehensive legal and institutional reforms and practicable restructuring measures, to fight corruption; ensure the enthronement of the rule of law, and decisively tackle all forms of corruption.” Prioritize human capital development. Peter Obi manifesto also promised to lead the charge in ensuring human capital development and prioritizing infrastructural development, health, education, wealth creation, distribution, and a host of others. He said: “Improve access to finance, particularly to MSMEs, youths, and women, to significantly reduce unemployment and insecurity. “Ensure that in policy and practice, governance will be made more inclusive, cost-effective, transformative, and less transactional. No more sharing of the national wealth by a few.”

      Another Nigeria media house, Naira metrics put it this way:

     “It has been established that Nigeria is among the top ten most vulnerable countries to climate change, which poses the greatest economic, physical, financial and developmental risks. But it also offers enormous opportunities to unleash the green growth transition and boost prosperity. We shall establish a Green Army tasked with identifying all opportunities to tap into the $3 trillion international climate finance to engineer economic growth and employment for millions of our youths and transition our country to the green epoch” 

How it will tackle current problems: Peter Obi has said he wants to transition Nigeria from fossil fuels to green energy. To him, this transition will have a positive impact on Nigeria’s environmental challenges like flooding, which took over six hundred lives across the country as of October 2022. Peter Obi told the anchors of the Morning Show on Arise TV in October 2022 that if he becomes president in 2023, he will tackle the country’s flooding problems by dredging Rivers Benue and Niger. He further alluded to dredging contracts concluded in the past without implementation. According to him, the pattern of rainfall from 2001 till date has remained constant, so, dredging is needed to prevent the floods Nigerians must deal with every year. He said: 

“If Egypt can dredge and sift the river Nile, which is over 6,000 km long for Tourism and other purposes that contribute to their economy, why can’t we do the same with River Niger, which is over 4,000 km, and River Benue which is over 1,000 km? If we award the dredging contract, we will ensure it is done.” 

Industrializing with net zero goals: In the manifesto, it was stated that the country’s economic production will be equitably geared towards the net-zero emissions drive. So, the Obi campaign will re-design incentives for present and prospective investors in the industrial sector coupled with an apprenticeship system to provide a ready-made source of technical expertise in the relevant areas. 

Reducing petroleum products imports: The manifesto states that the Obi campaign plans to incentivize the mid-stream segment of the petroleum industry by facilitating gas processing plants and privately-owned small and medium-scale boutique refineries, with a view to reducing the importation of refined petroleum products, and eliminating the petrol subsidy regime, which has become a huge burden on the budget. 

In the manifesto, the Obi campaign plans to review and enforce the mandatory National Strategic Reserve of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), Diesel (AGO), aviation fuel, and cooking gas to reduce the country’s national vulnerability to sudden disruptions to the supply of these fuels. The manifesto also stated: 

“We will ensure that the federal government offers meaningful incentives to corporate entities and industries that make discernible efforts to transit to clean and alternative energy, not only for local consumption but also for export. Our priority is the preservation of our environmental integrity, using a carrot-and-stick approach to ensure that industrial production and oil production do not damage our environment and livelihood systems.” 

In case you missed it: Peter Obi has previously stated that Nigeria must look beyond oil, and he intends to leapfrog Nigeria from oil to the Fourth Industrial Revolution by expanding physical infrastructure through market-driven reforms that will unleash growth-enabling entrepreneurship and market-creating innovations.” 

      Blueprint, another Nigerian media outlet, characterized Peter Obi’s manifesto thus:

     “Ahead of 2023 general election, the presidential candidate of the Labor Party (LP), Peter Obi has released his manifestos.

He promised to restructure Nigeria’s security architecture for better performance if elected president after next February’s poll.

The former governor of Anambra State made this objective known when he released his manifesto on Friday. The manifesto, titled “Prospects of Transformative Governance in Nigeria.”

He promised, among several things, to arrest the deteriorating state of the nation’s insecurity.

Insecurity in the country has taken a dangerous dimension as banditry, insurgency in the Northeast and Southeast of the country, farmer-herder clashes and unabated kidnapping of unarmed civilians take center stage on the highways in the country.

The manifesto also assures of rebuilding Nigeria’s military power, promoting economic growth, and enhancing its technological prowess with a view to improving Nigeria’s diplomatic influence in sub-regional, regional and global affairs.

The manifesto also emphasized the challenge of high youth unemployment in Nigeria and promised that LP administration will pursue the national youth strength with a view to curbing the trend.

It also emphasized zero tolerance for corruption, blockage of leakages, and cutting the cost of governance: with avowed commitment to transparency and accountability in government business.

The LP presidential candidate manifesto also promised that LP administration will prioritize production-centered growth for food security and export; securing and uniting Nigeria, leapfrogging Nigeria from oil to the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR); while expanding physical infrastructure through market-driven reforms; as well as initiating human capital development that empowers competitiveness, and robust foreign policy that restores Nigeria’s strategic relevance.

It also emphasized zero tolerance for corruption, blockage of leakages, and cutting the cost of governance: with avowed commitment to transparency and accountability in government business.

According to the manifesto, “We will tweak the security architecture, which will entail reform of the security sector and governance. We will restructure, re-equip and reorient the Nigerian police. This will include three levels of policing – federal, state and community.

“We will build a compact, robust and ready mobile police force with Rapid Response Deployment capabilities; and legislate the establishment of state police based on community

“Our administration will pursue a properly staffed, equipped and technologically driven security system with particular emphasis on re-focusing the military on external threats and border protection and police on internal security threats and law enforcement; swift prosecution of criminals, bandits and terrorists; enhanced coordination among security agencies; and upholding the rule of law.

“We are challenged by high youth unemployment, which stands at 54% for the youth; and twenty million out-of-schoolchildren. We must give this country back to the Nigerian youths. Half of our two hundred million people are below the age of thirty.

“Harnessing our national youth strength and demographic dividends intelligently must start with curbing the high youth unemployment and creating funding access to enable our youths to become entrepreneurs and drivers of our Small and Medium Scale enterprises (SMEs).

“As part of our monetary policy, we will seek to re-establish the independence of the CBN; and commit to a credible and transparent plan to normalize the exchange rate and bring inflation to single digits.

“We will remove import and forex restrictions and insist on a single forex market. The current system penalizes exporters who bring in forex by forcing them to sell at a rate that they are unable to source for forex when they need to purchase forex. This multiple exchange rate regime encourages capital flight and deters investment, which has further worsened Nigeria’s forex situation.

“We are spending more on recurrent expenses, and we are borrowing frivolously. I am not against loans per se; but we must stop borrowing for consumption. All loans must be invested in regenerative projects. We must operate within available resources and strive for a balanced national budget as cost saving measures. Ending the leakages – including the subsidy regime and improving our tax regime, should do the magic.”

The manifesto added, “We shall ensure that in moving Nigeria forward, no state or community will be left behind. Pursuant to its statutory responsibility to protect, our government will promote equity in power and resource sharing. The federating units will enjoy discernible autonomy. Resources will also be shared equitably. A higher derivation paid to oil or solid minerals producing states will not be tantamount to other states not receiving federal allocations that should keep them viable. We must transcend the rhetoric that bedevils a robust debate on some of these national questions.

“We will respect the principles of federal character, affirmative action and gender balance; but no longer at the expense of merit.”

CONCLUSION

      I do not believe that I can put the matter any better than the above three sources of admiration and praise for what Peter Obi did. I conclude by saying that I wholeheartedly agree with folks’ positive perception of this unique Nigerian politician, a man who treats us as adults by telling us what he is going to do for us and asking us to hold him responsible for accomplishing those goals and objectives that he tells us that he is going to accomplish for us.

Ozodi Osuji

December 4 ,2022

You can reach Dr Osuji at: ozodiosuji@gmail.com

(907) 310-8176

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