Presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi in a speech at a dinner organized for him by the Nigerian diaspora community in Charlotte, North Carolina, United States, detailed some of his policy proposals, as the official start of campaigns for next year’s general election draws near later this month.
North Carolina will be Obi’s fourth U.S. city and the U.S. the fifth country he is visiting on his campaign shuttle to woo the hitherto untapped political value of the Nigerian diaspora to support his vision and his campaign for Nigeria’s presidency.
Mr Obi described Nigeria’s diaspora remittances as the “new normal” that will become “Nigeria’s Official Development Assistance” under his presidency. He said foreign direct investment to Nigeria in 2021 was a “paltry” $4.8 billion compared to diaspora remittances which often exceed $20 billion. He said with “proper policy and planning” diaspora remittance could hit as high as $60 billion rising to about 14% of the Nigeria’s GDP.
Obi admonished his listeners that “though the outlook seems bleak, especially with the present state of insecurity ad parlous economy” he was confident that “Nigeria will recover” with a leadership with the right skills set of “competence, capacity, credibility and commitment” which he claims he represents.
He reiterated his commitment to moving Nigeria from “consumption to production” – a catchphrase and promise that has caught the interest and imagination of the youths and Nigeria’s Labour movement both of which appear to be the fulcrum of his campaign.
In the speech, Obi perhaps for the first time allowed a peep into his thoughts regarding the vexed issue of restructuring, promising that a “review of the Constitution will be part of the overall restructuring” and he seemed to open the door to a referendum to let Nigerians decide how they want to be governed when he suggested that “ultimately the Nigerian people will decide”.
The maverick ex-governor of Anambra State famous for his frugality and anti-corruption stance warned if elected his government will have “zero tolerance for corruption; block leakages and cut the cost of governance”. He said “total commitment to transparency and accountability in government business” was the only way to salvage Nigeria and pull her out of the current economic and political doldrums.
The Labour Party flagbearer touched on what he termed “intangible assets of good governance, rule of law, security of lives and properties; … patriotism, …national morale …and political will” as the inevitable driving force necessary for economic growth and opportunities.
Having previously lambasted the current APC and previous PDP administrations for their inability to prioritize education and allow incessant strikes by Nigeria’s university teachers, Peter Obi committed to “aggressively pursue human capital development in the education and health sectors” having “pertinent global best practices” in view.
Obi’s policy framework on security touched on “tweaking the security architecture” and hinted at a reversal of the dominant role of Nigeria’s military in civil security by saying that each arm or agency of the armed forces shall “lead in areas where they have a comparative advantage”.
On Nigeria’s foreign policy he indicated under an Obi presidency, “Africa will remain the centrepiece of our foreign policy” but warned that “tackling Nigeria’s myriad domestic challenges” was foundational to a productive and active foreign policy.
Peter Obi, from SouthEast Nigeria which has not produced a head of government since 1966 is promising to be a healer and a unifier of Nigeria’s fractured national consciousness. “We will seek to reunite Nigeria through strict adherence to Constitutional provisions on equitable representation,” he said. He averred he will “regenerate a sense of belonging to all citizens through inclusivity and adequate representation of women, youths and people with disability in government.”
Online and across social media platforms, millions of army of OBIdient Movement – a fancy word for Peter Obi and Labour Party supporters are engaging in advocacy and rigorous debates one the policy issues raised by the new kid on the political block of Nigeria.
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