By Best Ofori.
Former governor of Anambra state, Peter Obi, during and after his tenure as superintendent of “the light of the Nation” state has always hit the headline for the right reasons. He is renowned for prudence and accountability. He walks on the street like any other citizen. When at any function he conducts himself with utmost humility; no airs around him.
Ironically, very few leaders can boast of this attributes. In a chat with a classic 97.3 Fm radio programme, The Discource with Jimi Disu on Sunday in Lagos, the ex-governor laments the parlous state of the economy as well as the leadership ineptitude which has been the albatross of our national life.
“No matter how you train people you can never say what they will do. The moment you are not there, they go for celebration, you can not change it. At a time when some people are hungry and unemployed, some state governments are busy decorating the streets. What has decorating the streets got to do with employment and development”?
The passionate leader is livid about the level of unemployment in the country. He attributed this to the greed and avarice of the political elites. He said education is pivotal to national development. Citing the Asian Tigers as good example of good leadership, he said, “When we came out of the Civil war, the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of Nigeria was higher than that of Malaysia, Indonesia, and other Asian Countries. But today the reverse is the case, because those countries invested in education. If you look at the dividends today, they are far from where we are because they invested in the right investment, human infrastructure, and today, their economy is about the best in world, you can see the difference”.
Reacting on his passion for education and youth development Obi reminisced on how he went about his administration while in government “When I took over, we (Anambra State) were number 25 in WAEC roll of performance, but by 2013 / 14 session, we were number One. We believe money has to be sent direct to schools for infrastructure development and other contingencies. The money has to be managed by the Principal. That way, you get results. But when it has to go through the ministry officials, bureaucracy will set in and you will not have good results”.
On corruption, the Ex-Governor said, what needs to be tackled is not just corruption Par-see, but the greed and avarice that pervade the entire country. “Although we hear of policemen collecting bribes of twenty, fifty and one hundred Naira on the highway, those are just the symptoms. The real issue is that we hear somebody built or bought a house in Dubai, London, New York, South Africa etc. That is where we start the fight.
You fight greed not just corruption. Why do we have to fight greed and corruption? Corruption kills professionalism. Why would someone want to be a professor when he will make more money as a local government chairman or councilor”?
On his modus operandi’ while in office, obi said. “I have a book on expenditure. I signed on anything that got to do with money what we need in sub-Saharan Africa is a man who can manage the resources not a man who speaks well”.
Could obi’s stern and disciplined approach to governance be fallout of his catholic background? “I believe that we must use money for what it is mean for and not for any other purpose that has no bearing with development. For me I live for tomorrow, yesterday is gone. That future plan to see tomorrow. If you know where you are going, every road will lead you there”.