Peter Obi: The conscience of a capitalist on Nation building, Budget and Economy

By Emeka Chiakwelu10678636_762252767164209_1095010092537298543_n
For Nigeria to succeed in the arduous task of nation building with
sustainable wealth creation in 21st century, Nigeria needs men and women
that comprehend and appreciate the complexity of the modern political
economy in the emerging 21st century. Innovations, superb
intellectuality, prudence and scientific breakthroughs are the hallmarks
of greatness in the emerging 21st century.

Peter Obi, the former governor of Anambra State, is a Nigerian politician
that can be describe as a personality of a 21st century caliber that
understands politics and economy, with a conscience grounded on private
enterprise and enriched with an experience on public policy he derived as
a former governor of Anambra State. He is an astute business executive
and an intellectual politician of first order.

His public policy understanding, prowess and scope together with his
experience as a business executive was vividly portrayed and embellished
in his write up on the – Confronting the Challenges of Nation Building in
Nigeria. His logicality and reasoning shows a serious mind and a dedicated
citizenship that is willing to apply his best for the greater good of our
country Nigeria.

I always maintained that nobody is born a patriot, for the love of God,
country and family is a deliberate act. Again the greatest act of love
anyone can show his country is to cherish it. A patriot is an enlighten
and dedicated citizen that comprehends the social, political and economic
interdependence of citizenship and country.
Obi elaborated in his write up that an economic disruption must not be
used as a tool to vilify policy makers especially those of them that are
dedicated to the progress of the country. He gave instance about the
Russian currency weakening in value due to nosedive of oil price. He
reiterated that Putin was not blamed but rather the people of Russia
rallied around their leader. His words:

“For instance, the Russian Rubbles has lost over 40% of its value. About
11% of that 40% was lost on Tuesday last week alone. But the Russians are
not blaming Putin, or calling its government names. They are rather
holding together and struggling to come out of it stronger. Over 25,000
have been reported missing in Mexico the last 18 months or so, including
42 students killed and buried by gangsters. But the Mexicans are not
blaming their government, or running their nation down in the media. Some
145 students were recently murdered in Pakistan by Talibans, but without
the Pakistanis blaming their Prime Minister, or accusing their government
of insensitivity. That is why Nigerians should give themselves a rap on
the shoulder and say: “Hey, no one out there is coming to solve our
problems for us, if we don’t solve them.”

Obi was making a valid point. It is not necessary to blame Nigerian
leadership and policy makers for the falling oil price that has
subsequently lessened the value of naira. The point is for all Nigerians
to come together irrespective of their political views and philosophy to
find ways and methodologies fend off the ramification of falling oil price
and the further deterioration of naira as currency speculation surges.

Obi gave Nigeria wider understanding of the universality of the falling
oil price and continuous weakening of currencies of oil producing nations.
Obi elaborated further with the below commentary:

“Global oil prices have lost about 40% of its value since June. Russia,
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and all oil producing countries are devising survival
strategies, so Nigerians must stay together and support our president at a
time like this; especially when he is working round the clock with his
economic team to get things right. The nation is not even so badly hit
today because we eventually listened the CME’s sustained call for savings
at all levels. I recall having attended many meetings as then governor of
Anambra, during which she reminded everyone that the price of oil could
fall at any time and that we needed to boost national savings, presenting
establishment of the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) as another way of
achieving targeted saving and long term investment. But the voice of the
majority initially drowned her repeated pleas about saving for the rainy
day. The louder chorus was “Let’s spend now! The rainy day is already
here! In fact is already flooding!” Meanwhile, it was only drizzling at
the time! Fortunately, the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority was set
up after a long and has financed the Abuja-Kaduna rail, the Lagos-Ibadan
Expressway and the Second Niger Bridge, among other projects.”

Obi views on the issue of budgets and its constraints were impressive due
to his understanding of the knots and bolts of fiscal budgets. It must
be recognized that due to the nosedive of oil price, there must be some
alterations and fiscal modifications on the budget. He gave a
quantifiable credit to the Honorable Okonjo-Iweala , the minister of
finance, for her financial prudence and expertise. He thanked President
Jonathan and his economic team for their safeguard and sustenance of
macroeconomic stability of Nigerian economy:
“The point being made here is that our challenges are as real as the
government’s tackling of them. We must hold together as people and also
thank God for the determination of Mr President and his Economic
Management Team, to set the economy on a strong macro-economic footing.”
A grasp of knowledge of budgetary matters was highlighted. Obi’s
commentary and analysis sound professorial with repository tinge, prudence
and sophistication:
“The 2015 budget is also pegged on increasing Internally Generated Revenue
(IGR) and diversifying the economy. It ties the expected increase in IGR
to projected inputs into the economy, which would reflate local economies
and increase Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The FIRS is to increase IGR but
not necessarily by increasing the taxes. It is blocking leakages and
institutional weaknesses in tax administration and increasing the
collection rates. Besides the official target of N1.98 trillion, the FIRS
was given an additional target of N75 billion, which it overshot and
declared N143 billion extra as at last month. This shows that the new
collection target of additional $3 billion dollars in three years for FIRS
announced by the CME is realisable, as its Integrated Tax Administration
System (ITAS, which targets a re-engineering and automating of the Federal
Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) core tax administration processes, will
yield a seamless, integrated solution that incorporates international best
practices for revenue administration with clear monitoring and evaluation

Finally, this is my take on the Peter Obi’s conscience of greatness.
Nigeria is now at a cross road of history making. If we do the right thing
and work together as one people and eschew bitterness; Nigeria will sit on
the front row of 21st century table of greatness. Despite the gyration of
supply and demand of oil due to nosedive of oil price that has affected
the value of naira. Nigeria stands a better chance in building a bulwark
against the falling oil price due to diversification of the country’s GDP
and her enhanced macroeconomics stability.

Emeka Chiakwelu, Principal Policy Strategist at AFRIPOL. His works have
appeared in Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Forbes and many other
important journals around the world. His writings have also been cited in
many economic books, publications and many institutions of higher learning
including tagteam Harvard Education. Africa Political & Economic Strategic
Center (AFRIPOL) is foremost a public policy center whose fundamental
objective is to broaden the parameters of public policy debates in Africa.
To advocate, promote and encourage free enterprise, democracy, sustainable
green environment, human rights, conflict resolutions, transparency and
probity in Africa.

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