By Dennis Agbo
ENUGU – PEOPLES Democratic Party, PDP, Vice presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, on Tuesday, lampooned the anti-corruption policy of the President Mohammadu Buhari-led federal government, saying the country has receded in attempt to frighten and muscle the opposition with anti-graft campaign.
The Anambra state former governor told the federal government that fight against corruption was not economic policy, and could boomerang when it is fought with intent to be vindictiveness.
Obi spoke at the 3rd South East Economic Summit with the theme, “South East Nigeria: An Investment Destination.”
He gave an instance that when peoples’ businesses that employ thousands of people and which render crucial services to the society are shut down in guise that they were established through corrupt means, the nation would lose more than the value of the looted money, if any.
He blamed the nation’s poverty on over dependence on oil revenue to the detriment of other resources, arguing that oil has become a declining asset which many nations are dumping.
Obi gave the example of Venezuela, which he noted has the largest deposit of oil in the world, with 23 million population but is economically a failed nation because it failed to adopt modern economic model like developed countries that run knowledge-based economy.
He said “Nigeria in the past three years actually came down from GDP of 520 billion to a GDP of less than 400 million, and that was why I was worried when people say we are doing well… fighting corruption is not an economic policy; it’s a disaster…”
The PDP presidential candidate said that South East and South South geopolitical zones of the country have the capacity to change Nigeria economically as they have the regions with the fastest growing cities in the country.
“Knowledge economy is the driver of the word today. Nobody is talking about baggage (oil) economy; in our own, its’ even a diminishing asset.
“People are now trying to build vehicles, they don’t need petroleum and we are still busy arguing everything, price of oil went up, price of oil went down; when we have talented young men that can change this place if supported, and this is what we need to look at and support them.
“Like I always said to people, your country in 2016 had 70 something million poor people and India had 76 million poor people. Within three years India pulled 102 million people out of poverty. They have no oil. Your country pulled 12 million into poverty and we became number one, they became number two. They have no oil.”
In a remark, first Republic Minister of Aviation and elder statesman, Chief Mbazulike Amaechi lambasted the present crop of Igbo politicians for always shouting that Ndigbo were marginalized in the country, declaring that nobody was marginalizing Ndigbo.
He enjoined the people of the zone to take advantage of their entrepreneurial acumen to build super economic structure within the region so that what they cannot get politically, they get economically.
“I told the present set of politicians whom I regard as opportunists, and careerists, people who are in politics for what they can get and not for what they can give; people who are in politics as surrogates of the rotten military that we have had in this country; if they do not give leadership, we can grab leadership and let us grab that economic leadership.
“If political power eludes us and we are economically powered in this country, politicians will respect us, they cannot do without us. Let us develop an Eastern Region, let us develop South East states that this country cannot do economically without.
“If we develop it people will respect us, even the so called governmental power will come to you, people will come to you begging you, come and take power, come and lead us and come and show us what you have done in your place.”
The economic summit chaired by founder of Diamond Bank, Dr. Pascal Dozie was supported by United Kingdom Department for International Development through Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL); and Ford Foundation.
Although none of the South East governors attended, but the South East Governors Forum Secretariat was fully represented with the Director General of the Forum, Prof. Simon Ortuanya leading the team.
The summit was attended by business and political leaders from Igboland, including Prof. Barth Nnaji.