From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja
Peter Obi, Labour Party’s (LP) candidate for the 2023 general elections, has said his administration will find ways to steer the country away from oil dependency and finally put an end to fuel subsidy.
Obi regretted that Nigeria currently spends more to pay for subsidies on imported refined products than it earns from crude sales.
The LP flag bearer spoke at the Labour Party – Coalition for a Peter Obi (CPO) Summit held at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.
He further noted that poverty must be decisively dealt with to effectively fight insecurity in the country.
According to him, “I have consistently maintained that while there is a need for the sustenance of the hard approach to fighting insecurity, there is an urgent need to tackle poverty and social and economic malaise that exacerbate the crises. We cannot have a 33% unemployment rate, 18.5 million out-of-school children and 100 million poor people, in Nigeria and expect to go to sleep with our two eyes closed.
“The money Nigeria is sharing from oil earning is finished! We now spend more today to service debts than we earn from oil! Nigeria now spends more to pay for subsidy on imported refined products than she earns from crude sales! Going forward, we must look for ways to move Nigeria beyond oil. We must end the criminality that is called oil subsidy.
“But we must do the first things first. It is only auspicious that the reset button is urgently applied now, and that is why the OBIdient Movement is an idea whose time has come! We must find ways to change the political trajectory in Nigeria in 2023.”
Obi further explained that the summit was part of his struggles to save Nigeria and restore its democracy which is on the brink of collapse.
“Let me thank all those gathered here for becoming part of the struggle to rescue our country, and make her a Secure, United and Productive Nigeria. Today, our theme and focus are on youth, governance and a new Nigeria.
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“I thank the Coalition for Peter Obi (CPO) and the entire OBIdient Family who have been toiling ad sacrificing to ensure the success of our collective project. The Nigerian political space has unprecedentedly been lit up by your selfless works and sacrifices. My assurance to you all is that “you shall not labour in vain”.
He said the PDP and APC structures were that of stomach infrastructure that has brought misery to the people and insisted that contrary to claims in some quarters, the LP has a structure which is masses and downtrodden oriented.
“I want to assure you that as a people-oriented party and movement, the people remain the fulcrum of our collective quest to take back Nigeria; the people are our structure. I, therefore, urge you not to yield to the deceptive narrative of a lack of structure in the movement. You all seated here are the Structures we seek.
“The current structures of both the PDP and the APC are the stomach infrastructure that has brought us nothing but misery. Their understanding of structure is sharing Nigeria’s patrimony with vested interests and influencing peddlers. That is against what Peter Obi represents; that is against what Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed represents; and it is indeed, against the vision of the Labour Party.
“On a final note, I urge you to always endeavour to remind the opposition that Nigeria’s democracy must survive because of our structure -that critical mass that has been dehumanized and disenfranchised by the ruling oligarchs; the 100 million poor Nigerians who will come out on election day to fight for their future; the 33% unemployed Nigerians who already know who kept them unemployed; our structure is indeed the parents of 18.5m out-of-school-children in Nigeria, who will strive to ensure that such affliction does not visit them a second time. And finally, our structure is everyone seated in this hall today! Yes, we have structure. And we are ready to move mountains to save Nigeria,” he stated.
Obi recalled that since entering the presidential race, his mantra had been consistent and in tandem with the Labour Party’s vision, which according to him, mainly seeks to ensure economic transformation through job-led growth.
“Therefore, my decision to join the Labour Party was not by coincidence or happenstance; it was indeed a thought-through decision given the ideological convergence.
“Great nations are built through political alliances. Our founding fathers understood and forged alliances in the national interest. But things changed. Our leaders became selfish, myopic ad corrupt. And our people suffered. That narrative and mindset must change.
“Nigeria is at crossroads and it would be foolhardy for anyone to sugarcoat our current morass. Ravaging insecurity, largely inflicted by non-state actors, is fast threatening the sovereignty of Nigeria.
“Nigeria is today vastly polarized and wracked by deep divisions along religious, ethnic and regional lines. There is a staggering level of corruption. Our universities have remained closed for over five months. While our healthcare system remains comatose, power generation and distribution are also at an all-time low.
“There is a common link that will tie or separate Nigerian youths, good governance and a New Nigeria. It is the forthcoming 2023 elections. In essence, democracy has always been about periodic and genuine elections. Besides the periodicity, the pertinent qualifiers include certifiable credibility, transparency, and respect for the choice of the voting populace. In 2023, we must ensure that the choice of Nigerians is respected.
“After we win the 2023 elections, we intend to use the instruments of job creation and regenerative investments to reduce drastically the high incidence of insecurity and poverty, while moving the economy from the consumptive to the productive mode. We seek to build a new Nigeria where transparency, due process, rule of law, and prudent management of resources will be the norms.
“As I have always said, our vision and mission are to give full expression to our democracy by moving our country from consumption to production; we shall achieve this by giving primacy to implementing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” Obi said.