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Payment of fuel subsidy is organised crime, says Obi

By Kehinde Olatunji, Victor Osundeyi (Lagos), Kanayo Umeh (Abuja), Monday Osayande (Asaba) and Emmanuel Samaila (Yola)
20 September 2022   |   4:30 am
The presidential candidate of Labour Party, Peter Obi, yesterday, said government was behind oil theft in the country.

Chairman, Printing, Publishing and Allied Group, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Princess Layo Okeowo-Bakare (left); Principal Consultant of DRNL Consult Ltd UK, Mrs. Ronke Onadeko; President, LCCI, Dr. Michael Olawale-Cole, CON; 2023 presidential candidate of Labour Party, Peter Obi; Vice President, LCCI, Prince Abimbola Olashore and  moderator of the event, Chairman, LCCI Economics and Statistics Committee, Dr. Ayo Teriba during the private sector forum on 2023 Presidential Election with Labour Party’s candidate at Commerce House, Victoria Island, Lagos…yesterday.

• LCCI president: Tinubu is next to address private sector in October
• Group accuses Oshiomhole of using Obi’s popularity to seek relevance
• LP candidate tells Nigerians to vote character, competence
• Okowa to Bode Goerge: Delta PDP intact, not in crisis
• Wabara meets Fintiri in Yola over Ayu

The presidential candidate of Labour Party, Peter Obi, yesterday, said government was behind oil theft in the country.

Obi, who was the guest speaker at the second in the series of Private Sector Economic Forum of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) for presidential candidates, asserted that it was impossible for an ordinary Nigerian to steal oil without the cooperation of government.

“Payment of oil subsidy as currently practiced in Nigeria is an organised crime. We need an aggressive production of local refining. Make resources available to ensure a private-sector led oil refining,” the former Anambra State governor advised the Federal Government.

The presidential candidate who made the remarks, while answering questions from panellists at the event, also reacted to a question on the issue of cost of governance. “I have allergies to waste,” he said, alleging that 50 per cent of the claimed subsidy being paid was ‘corruption’.

Speaking on challenges relating to high exchange rate, Obi, who said the problem was due to ‘physical recklessness’, stated that Nigeria needed to move away from being a ‘consumption to production nation’.

Another critical policy he identified to address exchange rate challenges was to stop ‘dollarisation’ of local oil transactions.

He insisted that there was need for an overhaul of the security architecture in the country, proposing multi-level policing from the federal to the community security system.

The LP presidential standard bearer, who stressed that tackling insecurity challenges was significant to economic growth, affirmed that once insecurity was adequately addressed, farmers would be able to go to farms, productions would increase and high rate of inflation would gradually reduce.

When asked how he was going to sustain institutional growth, Obi replied that he would ensure “certainty of policy”, as well as subjecting himself to public scrutiny and accountability.

On borrowing, Obi specified that there was nothing wrong in borrowing, but where the problem lied was when government borrowed to consume, stating that when borrowing is done to invest, the return would be prosperous and impact positively on both micro and macro economies.

He urged Nigerians not to vote him or any other candidate in the coming general elections based on tribe, religion or acclaimed right. Instead, he advised the electorate to vote based on trusted character, accountability and prosperous future for the country.

“Don’t vote for me because it’s my turn, Nigeria is nobody’s turn. This time, it’s the turn of Nigerians to take back their country. So, it’s not the turn of anybody. Don’t vote for anybody because of connections. Don’t believe what they say about their structure, it is the structure of criminality, corruption and looting. That is what we want to dismantle.

“What Nigeria needs is a leadership that is committed. They said 2023 election is the last bus stop, my appeal is that 2023 election should not be based on ethnicity. There is no place where poor people in Nigeria live a better life. They don’t buy bread cheaper in Kano, Maiduguri, Oyo or Onitsha.

“Poor Nigerians are suffering in every part of the country. There is nowhere in Nigeria where security is perfect, people today can’t go to Kaduna, by air, road or train out of fear. Katsina State is not safer than Oyo. Insecurity is everywhere in Nigeria. There is no tribe that has uninterrupted electricity or where unemployment is lower. The farmers in the North are not in the farm because of insecurity.

“Elections in 2023 will be based on the character we can trust. Show us your last office, where you have been to, let’s go and verify how you managed public resources,” he said.

He thanked the LCCI for giving him opportunity to speak to Nigerians, calling on Nigerians to hold him accountable on all his electoral promises, if elected into office.

Oil theft, debt burden, subsidy regime, foreign exchange, and other economic issues were core areas the forum expected each of the candidates to address ahead of the 2023 elections.

Last week Tuesday, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, was the first to present his economic blueprint for post-2023. The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC)’s Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is expected next to have his turn at the Private Sector Economic Forum.

The LCCI, which has organised the event for the past 16 years, said it was interested in the economic agenda of each of the candidates aspiring to take over the leadership mantle at the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

This, according to the LCCI President, Asiwaju Michael Olawale-Cole, will enhance the choices people make at the polls.

“Beyond economic management, we understand that countries rise or fall through leadership and governance. Nigerians have another opportunity to decide who leads them in the next four years from 2023-2027,” LCCI boss stated.

Olawale-Cole stressed that the Nigerian economy has been inundated with a myriad of problems, among which are oil theft, an unsustainable subsidy regime, insecurity and a foreign exchange crisis.
Despite these challenges, he affirmed that the prospects and future remain bright for the Nigerian economy.

“Nigeria is the largest economy on the African continent with an output in the region of almost half a trillion dollars in nominal terms. The country is also hugely endowed with human and natural resources.”

While announcing that the Chamber plans to host Tinubu next month, Olawale-Cole promised that the Chamber would consider hosting other notable presidential candidates, so that it would not be accused of being biased.

MEANWHILE, a civil society organisation, Conference of Civil Society for Peace and Good Governance Initiative (CCSFPGG), has taken a swipe at the statement credited to former APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, to the effect that Obi failed to tackle insecurity in Anambra, while he held sway as governor of the state.

The former Edo governor, had while speaking during the youth conference of APC in Abuja, said: “For those of you who are social media warriors, there are issues here that you need to speak to. Go to Google and look at the first six months of Governor Obiano’s administration in Anambra.

“What you will find on YouTube is Governor Obiano demolishing houses of kidnappers and those who were then referred to as Bakassi Boys.
Who was the governor when Bakassi Boys developed and who solved the problem? So, if a man could not solve a security challenge in his own state, which requires courage, how can he convince you that he will solve security challenges all over Nigeria?”

But reacting to Oshiomhole’s statement, National Coordinator of CCSFPGG, Dr Oshioke Mathew Afegbu, described the APC chieftain as a failed politician, who was trying to get into prominence using Obi’s popularity, having not only been disgraced out of office as his party’s chairman, but also rejected by the people of his home state, Edo, when he tried to impose a governor on them in the last governorship election.

“Nigerians have not forgotten that few weeks ago, Oshiomhole, who was an ardent attacker of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s reelection bid, glaringly admitted in the face of teeming crowd in Abuja, that the APC government he helped to impose on Nigerians has failed in all ramifications and that the former President left a very good legacy for Nigeria than any other President in history. He said he had attacked him only because of political differences.

“For the records, Anambra provided security agencies with range of support, including provision of more than 500 security vehicles. Abubakar Mohammed, the former IG of Police, praised Anambra for not experiencing a bank heist in the final three years of Obi’s government due to the state’s amazing security development.

“Obi changed the local vigilante system such that neighbourhood watch organisations now collaborate with the police and are closely supervised.”
DELTA State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, has cleared the air on the legal action within PDP in the state that has been misconstrued to be a destructive crisis among rank and file of the party.

Okowa said the former Deputy National Chairman of the party, Chief Bode George, entirely missed it to have said Delta as a key PDP stronghold was in crisis.

He expressed delight that Olorogun David Edevbie, who contested and came a distant second in the credible primary election of the party, sought redress over his grievance in a civilised manner in court.

He said the litigation against the winner, Sheriff Oborevwori, Speaker of the state’s House of Assembly, was on alleged certificate forgery and not against his defeat or the peaceful conduct of the primary election.

His Chief Press Secretary, Olise Ifeanjika, who reacted to questions on the outburst of George, yesterday, said the chieftain goofed.

He said: “What is going on in Delta PDP is the beauty of democracy in action. There is no crisis in Delta PDP. When the legal fireworks is over at the Supreme Court, all the party faithful will close ranks and work to deliver all their candidates to retain the state for PDP, which the state is known for since the advent of democracy in 1999.”

MEANWHILE, as the crisis ravaging PDP over insistence of Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, on the resignation of the national chairman of the party, Iyorchia Ayu, chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT), Aldophus Wabara, yesterday, arrived Yola and went into a marathon meeting with Adamawa State governor, Ahmadu Fintiri, to find a lasting solution to the crisis.

The PDP state chairman, Alhaji Abubakar Shehu, who confirmed the arrival of Wabara to The Guardian, said he was on his way to join the governor at the meeting.

Sources at the meeting disclosed that the BoT chairman has selected close allies of Wike to visit them and seek for their intervention.

Wabara will meet with the Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, today, in Makurdi, in continuation of his search for solution.