The presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi, on Sunday replied the recent comments by his opponent in the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Bola Tinubu that mocked him as ‘Mr Stingy,’
Tinubu had during a campaign at the weekend, alleged that the former Anambra governor watched his people suffer and saved the state’s funds rather than save the people.
But Obi, who alongside his running mate, Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed appeared yesterday, on the Channels TV Presidential Town Hall Meeting, stressed that no one could fault him for refusing to steal public funds.
Obi who was asked to react to a statement made by Tinubu about his attitude of saving and starving the people, challenged the former Lagos State governor that it would be better if the conversation was centred around corruption and accountability.
He said: “It’s good when my opponents talk. Let us talk about corruption. One of the things killing this country today is Corruption Perception Index, which is measured by how you manage public assets, nepotism, how you share the land, how you manage your money, and everything.
“I’ve challenged everyone to go and see whether there is anywhere a kobo of Anambra State money is missing.’ Saving has now become an issue. When people have stolen all the money and impoverished the country and you are now questioning a man who left the money without anybody telling me to leave it and go.”
Obi also vowed to dismantle what he described as “confusion” at the Nigeria Port Authority through genuine partnership with the private sector.
He also spoke about how he intends to end militancy, banditry and agitation by different groups in the country, reiterating that if elected, his government would not hesitate to bring all aggrieved groups, including Boko Haram and IPOB to the table for talks.
On his part, Obi’s running mate, has blamed the presidency for lack of transparency in procurements, contracts, especially in the supply of military equipment.
Obi who spoke mainly on areas of the economy, education, power and especially security, promised to open all the ports across the country to generate revenue for the economy as well as to dismantle the cabals frustrating efforts to make other viable ports in the country functional.
He said: “It a confusion they created that I will dismantle.
People have to do the right thing. Port is not difficult. Nigeria is lucky that we have ports all over the place. What’s happening to the Ibom? Look at the Port Harcourt Ocean terminal started by Shagari? Look at Warri. Everywhere in Nigeria has port and you can just open it up.
“But people deliberately don’t want it opened because if it opens up, they won’t have the confusion. That’s what is happening everywhere in Nigeria; they don’t want to open up the economy to let people’s talents and hard work match up the opportunities because they will not have anything to steal.”
Asked what he would do different to change the state of the economy, he said: “Very easy, I will bring in private sector, build ports and manage it. That’s how it works everywhere.”
On insecurity, Obi said there must be deliberate efforts to bring all agitators and secessionists to the table for talks to hear if they have genuine grievances.
He explained that in a democracy, people have the right to protest against injustice, adding that the onus was in the hands of the government to look into what must have led into doing that.
Obi said: “When you look at what is causing agitations today, it is the issue of injustice, the issues that has to do with unfairness, unemployment, poverty. When you start addressing these issues and you engage them in a discussion, bringing them to the table. “We have agitations globally with convincing argument that things are not the way they should be. We have agitators all around us. My children, everyone agitates.
“When we sit them down and discuss with them, when they see reasons with us, they will agree. To say that you can continue with this injustice, continue with this unfairness, continue with this level of poverty, unemployment and young people not knowing where the next meal will come from, you till always have a crisis in your hands.
“I will discuss with everybody even if you are prisoner. Even if you have been jailed, I will bring you out so we can discuss. We must exhaust reasoning before we apply the stick. It’s important. This is a democratic dispensation. You don’t just get up and give orders. I won’t do that. I will govern by rule of law. I will govern by sitting down and discussing with everybody.”
Asked if that includes Boko Haram and IPOB, he said, “I have to find out who they are. Once you can identify who you are, I will discuss with you no matter what you are doing, no matter the kind of guns you are carrying, I will discuss with you.”
For the power sector, Obi said he would declare a state of emergency in the sector, promising to generate no less than 20,000 mw in his first four years in office.
He also said he would not revisit the power sector privatisation, saying that instead he would support players in the sector to improve on the existing power infrastructure.
Baba-Ahmed also said it was better to have brain drain than to have, “brain in a drain,” adding that Nigeria cannot afford to have educated and trained medical professionals and others, see them go to waste because the system was not working.
The vice presidential candidate noted that, “there is going to be a positive revolution in Nigeria, it has started, you can see evidently from the OBIdient Movement, there is going to be a revolution in governance itself when we come into power than is going to have an announcement effect as a tsunami.”
He further assured Nigerians that “security will be fixed, the government will be just and serving justice, investment will be overflowing and then Nigeria’s position in the world will not only be population, we will again begin to reflect it population and productivity at the same time. These are the Movements that we are merging in the next four to eight years,” if the Labour Party wins the election.
Emameh Gabriel, Oghenevwede Ohwovoriole and Juliet Akoje in Abuja