From Christiana T. Alabi & Yvonne Ugwuezuoha, Lagos
The Labour Party (LP) presidential flagbearer, Mr Peter Obi has said that he would pull unproductive Nigerians out of poverty and ensure economic growth if given the mandate to lead the country come 2023.
Obi said this on Monday while presenting his economic blueprint for Nigeria at the private sector economic forum on the 2023 presidential election organized by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI).
According to him, the government that will take over in 2023 will be confronted with many daunting domestic and external challenges, which has degenerated over the years due to leadership failure.
He said: “We see the government complain every day, that we have a revenue crisis, and that our revenue to GDP is low. I have always asked, how do government of other countries get their own liquidity?
“To get revenue, you must pay in first. It is the job of government to ensure economic growth, create jobs and employments that will allow people to pay taxes. Nigeria’s population is 200million people, if we use the world average of people who are supposed to be gainfully employed, it’s 60percent, that is about 120million people but we all know that the number of people that are gainfully employed and working in Nigeria is about 40m.
“So, we have about 60m to 70m unproductive people in Nigeria. What we need to do is start pulling those people out of poverty, have a robust economic growth and you will be able to have the liquidity that government needs to function.
“China’s last financial budget was about N4trn, out of which N3.2trn came from taxes, 50percent of that came to MSMEs and this segment is providing 60percent of the jobs in China. The number of employed people in China is 800million. The more robust your economic is, the more the country can be liquid.”
On power, Mr Obi stressed the need to liberalise transmission and support existing power generating companies. He also emphasized the need to provide funding access, tax incentives and promote renewable energy.
“I am not saying that I am going to be a Superman with inventions but I am going to bring the political will to follow the rule of law and deal with issues of oil theft, address leakages in government revenue. Nigeria’s problems though daunting and difficult are solvable.”
Commenting on exchange rate, Obi said under his watch, there would be no more dollar charge or dollar expenditure for government. “If you must operate here, you must charge Naira. We will use the dollar to engage other countries but here, only Naira.
He said, “If you deal with security today and your farmers go back to the farm, food prices will come down; remove subsidy and deal with corruption, and inflation will come down.”
Earlier in his remarks, the LCCI President, Asiwaju Michael Olawale-Cole, explained that the overshadowing effect of politics over economics made the Chamber set up the event as its own contribution to a new economic order that can take the Nigerian economy from the doldrums.