– A Must Energy Tonic for Governance, Growth, Development
By Chukwunwike Echezona
For two or three years now, Mr. Peter Obi, former Governor of Anambra State, has been delivering lectures to various audiences, and these (lectures) have circulated widely through the social media. His lectures which border on principles, philosophy and mechanisms of governance, growth and development, value creation and discipline in public service is a priceless gift to Nigerians especially at this time when the confidence of Nigerians in Nigeria, and in the capacity of Nigeria’s leaders and politicians to deliver governance have almost been completely eroded. It is a powerful message that massages the young and old, men and women, politicians, uniformed military and paramilitary, the clergy, civilians, even prisoners and bandits. It is a PROPHECY and a life saving ENERGY TONIC to NIGERIANS for governance, growth and development. Like the prophecies of the messengers (prophets) of God in the ancient, Peter Obi’s message is PUNGENT and as the people of the ancient rejected God’s message, to their DETRIMENT, in the same vein any elected Government official – L.G Chairman, Legislator, Governor, President, Civil Servant, Political appointee who IGNORES this Prophecy is bound to fail in his/her mission, objectives and goals.
Peter Obi has been harping on Education, Education and Education, and not without reason. Look at the U.S, China, India, the Asian Tigers, Bangladesh, even Russia – they all started their revolutionary march to Growth and Development with emphasis on Education – expansive and quality education. As far back (and as recent) as the 1970s and 1980’s, swarms of Asians were studying in various U.S Universities, pursuing higher education; they acquired knowledge, and returned home. As they flooded the U.S so also they went to European Universities. Today, they have much to show for the education and knowledge they acquired.
Nigerians, in their hundreds (and thousands) also trooped to the U.S and Europe to acquire knowledge but unfortunately many of them did not return home.
Why, is a subject for another day.
The opposite of knowledge (quality education) is IGNORANCE (the inability to REASON LOGICALLY). Ignorance is what we have in abundance in Nigeria today. And it is systematically and institutionally encouraged; it is the reason why we’re overrun by bandits, kidnappers, unknown gunmen and terrorists; it is the reason why over a hundred universities are shutdown for months; it is the reason why admissions to unity schools and tertiary institutions are offered to students who do not meet the cut off mark while those who do are rejected; it is the reason why sensitive and critical employment (positions) are offered to the incompetent and non-performers while those who can perform are rejected. Yes, ignorance is why we have been importing petroleum products for decades yet unwilling to repair and maintain our refineries. It is the reason for runaway corruption.
Ignorance is the reason why voters will cast their votes for a candidate who they know cannot achieve positive results, or for a candidate who they do not even know (what he/she can do). It was out of ignorance that some voters collected N5, 000 or N10, 000 each to cast their votes for a candidate who is a collaborator with their sworn enemy, who has stolen their common wealth.
It’s endless what ignorance causes and that’s why Nigeria is in today’s mess. This is why Peter Obi, not only harps on education but willingly gives his personal resources to encourage education.
Unproductivity and Consumption: Peter Obi has been harping on our unproductivity and consumption appetite (for foreign and “imported” products). Just three illustrations: – first, crude oils which we have comparative advantage:
Crude Oil and everything derivable from it – petrol (pms), diesel, kerosene, aviation fuel, cooking gas, petrochemical products, lubricants, plastics, fertilizer, etc. For decades we’ve been importing all these products though Nigeria is a leading African producer of crude oil for many decades. Import of refined petrol (pms) is put at over three trillion (N3, 000,000,000,000) Naira in one year. We’ve had refineries for decades but they are not PRODUCING, in a country where millions are out of employment, and poverty is about the highest in the world. In the last three weeks or so availability of aviation fuel assumed crisis proportions.
Palm Oil: Indonesia got their palm oil seedlings from Nigeria in the early 1960’s. Now, we even import palm oil from Indonesia, adulterate it and put it in the market, and our people consume them, and too many people go about suffering from all kinds of illhealth that sometimes defy diagnosis.
The Innoson Vehicle: It was reported that legislators rejected to use Innoson Vehicles but instead opted to use imported latest Japanese and European Cars- this is a country where poverty and unemployment are driving millions into criminality. Thus, they denied Innoson the opportunity to employ thousands into wage earning positions. The list of Unproductivity and Consumption is also endless.
Peter Obi’s philosophy and principles of governance growth and development also touches on other key areas-frugality/savings in Government. Basic Economics teaches us that savings equals investment. If he (as Governor) was able to save N75 billion (equivalent to N200 billion at current inflation rate) for the succeeding Govt., it was intended to be invested in Strategic Viable projects Not to be dumped into UNVIABLE ‘Legacy’ projects or frittered away. And we have too many Top Priority Economic Needs begging for investment.
Is there any public elected official (L.G Chairmen, Governor, etc) or Civil Servant who will save public funds for the future?
Peter Obi harped on discipline in all aspects of governance- time management, human resources management, operational management, etc. Look around and what you see is the opposite of what he is enunciating. Everybody outside Nigeria will appreciate his message except Nigerian’s political class and the public sector.
If we are the wiser, Peter Obi’s free education should be incorporated into the curriculum of secondary and tertiary educational institutions. After all, his lectures are all about Entrepreneurship which is what we need in order to grow and develop. It has become imperative that after every election the new Chief Executives (L.G Chairmen, Governors), law makers, Civil Servants and political appointees should undergo at least one month seminar bordering on development economics and entrepreneurship with particular emphasis on their constituency (environment).
It is a sad commentary that six decades ago Dr. M.I Okpara was at home with these principles and philosophy that Mr. Peter Obi is proclaiming today and he, (M.I. Power), performed wonders in growth and development. Yet in this digital age it has eluded Nigeria. We however, thank the Almighty that he made it possible (for us) to have a successful and peaceful Governorship election in Anambra State and in addition he gave us a man at home with the philosophy and principles of Peter Obi and the audacity of M.I. Power, in the person of Chukwuma Soludo. Anambrarians must continue to pray (support and cooperate) that Soludo’s focus will not derail and that favourable circumstances will prevail for him to achieve our collective goal.
Public Affairs Commentator writes from