Vice Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Obi, at the weekend gave an idea of how he and the party’s Presidential Candidate, Atiku Abubakar, would fix the country’s economy if voted into power by Nigerians during the February 2019 election.
Obi, who was fielding questions from newsmen in Lagos on Saturday, disclosed that the first thing they would do on assuming power on May 29 next year would be to quickly put in place measures to stop the economy from bleeding.
“We are looking at a collapsing economy and collapsing country and unless the right steps are taken to stop the bleeding, we will still be where we have been for years,” Obi said.
Continuing, the former Anambra State Governor said: “Take look at the budget presented by the President a few days ago and you will see that it does not give anyone hope instead, it tells us that we are still where we have always been.
“A quarter of the budget is meant to service debts, and that is about 60% of the budget while the President keeps telling Nigerians to tighten their belts because of the harsh times staring at us in the future.
“Does that give anyone confidence in this government? Not at all, I dare say. While presenting the budget, he said that the government is looking for ways to tax Nigerians the more. What are you taxing the poor people for?”
Obi lamented that “Nigerians are currently the poorest people on earth, yet the Muhammadu Buhari administration of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is “still looking at taxing them the more.”
“Does that give any one of us hope in this government? That means that if we keep them for the next four years, we are finished.
“We need to know where we are going as a nation but with Buhari at the helms of affairs, we do not know where we are going. Buhari is not in charge of this government as he does not know or care what the poor people are going through,” Obi said.
He recalled that “some days ago, the states went to Abuja and the revenue shared was nine times higher than it has ever been and if you do the calculations, that means the states will be owing 18 months of debts in one fell swoop.”
On what the Atiku administration would do to reverse the trend, Obi said: “We know the situation looks gloomy but we are not scared of going in to salvage the country. The situation with Nigeria is like an accident victim. The first thing to do in such a situation is to stop the bleeding first by applying first aid before the real treatment.
“It’s going to be difficult but we know where we are going and what we are going to do. To put the Nigerian economy back on a sound footing, we have to take a holistic look at SMEs because only then will you rescue the dwindling economy.
“There is nothing wrong in borrowing but it depends on what you are borrowing to do; what you are borrowing for. But our present government has been on a borrowing spree without knowing exactly why they are borrowing.
“Japan is the world’s highest borrowers but they invest heavily on SMEs and that is why it has one of the biggest economies in the world today but our government has taken us, the stakeholders in the country, for granted.
“Every Nigerian is a stakeholder in this country and in a company, nothing is done without the stakeholders being aware but in Nigeria, the reverse is the case. Your stakeholders must know what you are doing but in Nigeria, no one tells us anything because they do not care what we are going through.
“Ease of business is non-existent no matter what they want us to believe. Investors are scared to come into Nigeria because they do not know the next policy that will cripple their businesses. Some actions of this government make investors run away from Nigeria and you keep hearing them say there is ease of doing business.
“Nigeria is the only country borrowing more and the GDP is going down. We need to ask ourselves: what did other countries to get to where they are and why are we not doing those things? How do we deal with the 80 million voiceless poor Nigerians living in extreme poverty?
“The crisis with Nigeria is that we are not doing what others are doing and yet we want to be where others are. Things are not done like that.
“We need to change the way we do things in this country if we ever hope to come out of this economic quagmire we have found ourselves in. We must change the way we do things in this country or we will continue to grope in the dark. “