Former Governor and vice presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the last general elections, Peter Obi has lamented that Nigeria has a $90bn, about N28 trillion debt portfolio with nothing to show for it.
Obi who was the guest speaker on the theme: Re-designing the Nigerian Economy with New Ideas, on the platform, organised by Covenant Christian Centre, at Covenant’s place, Iganmu Lagos, on Tuesday, said that in 2017, the country spent over N1,6 trillion to service debt and N2.9 trillion to service debt in 2018, yet, there was nothing to show for it.
He lamented that, while other nations borrowed to embark on developmental projects, Nigeria borrowed to consume, a situation which make growth impossible.
He said, “The problem is not about debt, but what you use your money to do.’
Obi said that why more people live in extreme poverty in Nigeria than both China and India, the nation’s with the highest populations in the world combined, 98 million people in the country now live in extreme poverty, a growth of very 5 per cent annually.
“Nigeria is home to the highest number of poor people living in extreme poverty in the world. Nigeria now has more people living in extreme poverty than any other country in the world. Every minute, six Nigerians fall into extreme poverty,” he stated.
He warned that with over 22 million young people in their productive years unemployed, “the country is like a keg of gunpowder on the verge of exploding. It is worrisome.”
Also speaking, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, appealed to residents for patience over the bad state of roads in the state saying the continuous rainfall since he was sworn-in about four months ago had been slowing down rehabilitation/palliative work on the roads.
Sanwo-Olu promised that there would be extensive and massive rehabilitation of roads after the raining seasons, but that all the roads could not be tackled at the same time.
The governor said it has been raining since he was sworn-in and bitumen does not like rain and so work on the roads has being slowed down because of the condition.
He however, assured that the government was still working day and night to correct the state of the bad roads in the state.
Apart from bad roads, the governor said water, small landmass and population explosion were responsible for traffic congestion but that his government’s remedy for the traffic problem being experienced on a daily basis was a multi-modal transportation system whch involves developing the rail, water transportation and bus transit system which government had already been working on.
“On water transportation, we are encouraging the building of a lot of jetties and we have just acquired 6-7 new passenger boats that can take 60-70 passengers at a time”.
On commercial motor-cycle operators, the governor said because he waned to give everybody a chance to be part of the state development plan, the government was trying to harmonize and come up with a regulation system for them.
“This is designed to know who they are, their activities and how to manage them to ensure that they don’t add to the problem of traffic flow in the state, we don’t want to disenfranchise anybody,” Sanwo-Olu said.
The governor also disclosed that since his assumption of office it is only in the education sector that he had given a major approval for the recruitment of about 10, 000 teachers into the state public schools, a process that is already on-going.
Meanwhile, speaking at the 2019. 59th independence anniversary at Ikeja Police College, Sanwo-Olu, said,”l since October 1 1960, we have achieved significant progress in spite of challenges and setbacks, that have evolved us as a nation, we have remained united in our determination and desire to build a truly prosperous nation that will be the pride, not only to Africa, but to entire black people. Equally significant and worthy of celebration is the subsistent of two unbroken decades of democratic rule, in which Nigerians have exercised their franchise through the ballot papers to choose those who will decide over the affairs of government at all levels.
‘As we celebrate independence anniversary, we remain committed to achieving our collective aspiration as a nation and as a people. As leaders in position of authority, we are committed to achieving the greatest good for the greatest number, and ensuring that we all do all we can to improve and impact the life of our people through our. developmental programmes.
“It is reassuring that we are on the right track to attaining greatest and achieving the goal to build the foundation for sustainable growth and development. Fellow Lagosians, we take pride in the role that our state has played and will continue to play development of our nation, particularly in fulfilling the vision of our founding fathers.
“Today, we draw strength from our cosmopolitan nature, which has been a melting point for all the various ethnic groups in Nigeria. This is one of the visions of our founding fathers, which will continue to cherish, sustain and protect for generations. Just last week, I attended a series of high profile deliberative side meetings and events at the United Nations General Assembly, wherein was highlighted a number of ways in which we can push through our partners’ developmental agenda both at the National and subnational levels.
‘One way we identify was through a sustained agenda of public private partnership, building the desire to attract more investment into the state. Our vision, therefore, as a government and overall objective of our team’s developmental agenda is to ensure that we usher in unprecedented developments in all the sectors of our economy, including a fully integrated, multimodal transportation system, quality education for. all school age children, affordable housing option for all citizens, state-of-the-arts roads, even with all of the issues around portholes.
“I wish to however, remind you all that governance is not about the people in government alone. It is everybody’s business out there. i will therefore use the opportunity of this celebration, to seek the continued cooperation and support of all our citizens of this state, especially in the areas of compliance to rules and regulation, as well as voluntary discharge of our civic obligation. This is what it takes to build a greater Lagos. It is a duty and we must accomplished it by the special grace of God.”