Obi Urges Supporters To Remain Calm, Focused On Struggle For New Nigeria 
Peter Obi

Peter Obi In Atlanta – 30 Takeaways In This Night To Remember

2 years ago
9 mins read

Peter Obi in Atlanta: “Oloro tuntun bi Mandela!” (Yoruba for: Mandela who has something new to say) – Salawa Abeni, Waka Music queen

Labour Party’s 2023 presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, was in Atlanta this Friday September 2, 2022, in continuation of his visit to key cities in Europe and North America to rub minds with diasporans and share his vision of a New Nigeria that works for everybody. So about 2’000 Nigerians sat back in their seats in Norcross, Atlanta, and allowed the leader – who has the best tested, proven, and workable solutions to Nigeria’s morass – to do most of the talking. It was incisive, original, and invigorating. There were no gray areas.

To the extent that Peter Obi in Atlanta says that good governance from a responsible and responsive leadership is the most important ingredient Nigeria needs for her transformation, it puts him in the class of Philosopher Kings who thought through society’s old problems, and suggested their resolution in new and original ways.

READ ALSO: 2023: I Have No Structure Of Criminality, Peter Obi Replies Critics

I give to you 30 takeaways – #RealNuggets –  from this memorable night that restored hope in my heart and in those of other participators in what I call Peter Obi in Atlanta:

  1. Whenever I hear all these titles – Your Excellency, Your Honour, Honorable Minister – I am struck with the thought that maybe we ought to rest those titles until Nigeria starts to work. Why do you address a governor who’s owing salaries as excellent? Or one whose state is totally insecure. Or one who has ceded territory to bandits and terrorists? What is so excellent about them?
  2. Part of the question we ought to ask ourselves as we prepare for 2023 is – How did we get here? At independence we were celebrated around the world as a country with great prospects. What happened? – Peter Obi in Atlanta.
  3. The Chairman of the Occasion (Chief Christian Nwachukwu) mentioned Singapore’s investment in the education of their young. I try to avoid that because the gap between Singapore and Nigeria is very wide, even though not too long ago we started on the same marks. We can compare ourselves with South Africa and Kenya. Even there we fall woefully short – Peter Obi in Atlanta.
  4. Nigeria is the poverty capital of the world. We have more people living in poverty than India (Pop. 1.38 billion) and China (1.41) combined. Nigeria has overtaken India in infant mortality. Compared to their population this an anomaly and we must work hard to reverse that trend.
  5. It’s true that part of the answer to the question I posed at the beginning can be put down to a Cumulative Failure of Leadership. But followership have some blame too. Because we don’t call out the excesses of our leaders. I spend about 2 days in a year in Atlanta yet you will see people advising me to buy a house in Atlanta. If that makes sense to you, it doesn’t to me.
  6. When public servants in Nigeria come here and buy houses and invite you to house warming and dedication. What should you do? You should call the police because you know where those funds came from. They are proceeds of government corruption – Peter Obi in Atlanta.
  7. So to the chairman of the occasion, Education is a great priority but we must start from Security. How do we talk about education when terrorists forbid our kids to go to school?
  8. One thing is clear about terrorism. It is a multifaceted business. You have terrorists kidnapping people; calling their families and negotiating ransom; picking out a drop-off point for the ransom; sending a bagman; and banking and laundering their ransom: and no one is arrested? You tell me that the security agencies are helpless to do anything about it? Anyway the less said the better. But I know that Google can tell you where I am now with my phone I have on the table right here.
  9. We must strive to create a Law and Order society. We can’t thrive as a nation where Bad Behavior and Criminality are a measure of power.
  10. No more African Time. We must learn the good behavior of other people around the world. If the appointment says 8 o’clock then be there on time. We can’t say Oyibo way has failed until we do things the way they do. When that fails then we can rally ‘round our Native Doctors.
  11. We must learn how to choose the best people and put them to work. One day, searching for cheap airline tickets made me book flight with RwandaAir. My wife objected but I told her that I could not find any reason the other airlines charged so much for the same fare. When this aircraft took off, guess who approached me to introduce themselves – the pilot and copilot. They were both Nigerians, I think the pilot was from Ondo. What can we learn from that? They were given that job based on their qualification, competence, and safety & experience. Nobody asked them where they were from? Or who was sponsoring their recruitment? Or whether it was their turn? They got that job on merit. Nepotism should be a thing of the past. That’s the way of the world today.
  12. Our universities have been closed now for 6 months. That is Nigeria’ s loss in Human Capital development terms. Human Infrastructure partners Physical Infrastructure to create the Capacity to drive Human Progress. In Nigeria we don’t have both. We must begin to think of new ways of taking ownership of our problems and acting accordingly.
  13. The three countries that had made the biggest progress in Power Generation in the last 2 decades are Egypt, Vietnam, and India. That has enabled them to drive their industries, create employment for their people, invite foreign capital for investment, and grow their GDP. Just this week, President Ramaphosa declared a Power Emergency in South Africa. Egypt had done that in the past. Because they all know electricity is indispensable in any plan to create a manufacturing economy. Nigeria is not even playing catch-up. The darkness across the land seems not to bother those who are supposed to be improving the quality of life of our people. Power generation shall be our priority because it is the bedrock of the transformation from a Consumption to Production economy.
  14. There is war going on in Europe and the prices of crude oil has gone through the roof. But has Nigeria benefited from that? No, because we can’t even meet up with the output quota OPEC has assigned to us. Add to this the stories we hear of missing crude oil. Theft of crude oil: How is that possible without collusion at the highest levels between producers, auditors & regulators, and the protectors of our shoreline? Like terrorism it is big business.
  15. Like I say in Corruption we must all do our bit to confront it with courage. It requires collaboration across all citizens. Any governor owing gratuities and pension is criminal. You are hitting our elders at the age they are most vulnerable. Tell it to your friends who are governors. Let’s not keep quiet.
  16. I have never been against borrowing. Even America the world’s biggest economy borrows. It depends on what you are borrowing for. You need to borrow only for production. Not consumption. We borrow in Nigeria to consume – rice, fuel, and clothing – these are things we ought to have become self-sufficient in a long time ago. And to add to that, we borrow to steal. It’s not sustainable.
  17. People ask me, how are you going to stabilize the Naira? Simple. We move Nigeria to a manufacturing economy. It’s a historical fact that at the time that Bangladesh went into cloth making, tailoring, and garment manufacture, Aba was already a centre of tailoring and garments. Bangladesh’s economy today rests on their tailoring and garment-making industry. They export ready-to-wear garments around the world worth $36 billion annually. So what happened to Aba’s potential? Lack of infrastructural support, incentives and policy initiatives.
  18. Israel is about 42 times smaller than Nigeria and only 20% of their land mass is fit for agriculture. Yet compared to Nigeria, Israel’s annual agricultural export forms a great part of their economy and it stands, on the average, about $2 billion annually. What do they have in Israel that we lack here?
  19. You are blessed to be in the diaspora. You don’t need welfare from Nigeria. You have your pension, social security, and other safety nets. But we hope that we can become partners – Nigerians in the diaspora and Nigerians in the homeland. I used to be neighbours in London with an Indian. He borrowed money, went to India, and built a factory. The products from his company in India, he then exported to London which earned him forex that he reinvested in India. He created employment in India and added to its balance of trade, and made good profit while he was at it. We aim to tell stories like that also about Nigerians in the diaspora.
  20. We must work to have security. There are no foreign investments heading to Somalia or Afghanistan because of their insecurity. Regrettably, we are almost at that point now. We need to take a step back from the precipice. So your foreign policy becomes a function of your domestic stability and prosperity. There was a time Nigeria was the nation you called on for peace-keeping functions around the world. But not anymore. They read the news and they know about the terrible breakdown in law and order around the country even better than us.
  21. When your economy grows they invite to join one of the G-clubs – G-6, G-10. Or G-20. But if your economy is in decline you become ‘G less’ because no one is going to call on you. You become irrelevant. We must build a country that becomes relevant again.
  22. During my tenure as governor, a lot of people were not happy with me. At Abuja my fellow governors will relay messages for me – “Your Excellency, what happened with so and so” Well, the truth is I did not promise anybody happiness. I promised my people – Education, Security, and to grow agriculture.
  23. On Education I moved Anambra from #26 in the nation to #1. We did not change the teachers but changed the mindset and the system. We had audit and supervision. We did not change the schools but we changed the schooling. We added incentives. And by the grace of God it worked.
  24. On security. All criminality is local in a certain sense. We paid vigilante groups at the local level which generated actionable Human Intel on which the police acted to reduce crime – Like in America where they are encouraged to say something if they see something. We provided secure lines where the people can report crime.
  25. 2023 is not about tribe. It won’t be about religion. Or about turn by turn. Nigerians have witnessed an appalling failure of leadership under this party. It is sad that we can’t point to anywhere and say, “O! those people had it good.” You can’t go to Kaduna by air, by road, or even by train. Same with Katsina. This is clear to all except those benefiting from the government.
  26. Do not vote for me because I am Igbo. Or a Christian. Or from the south. Vote for me because I am competent with a proven track record of good governance which is measurable in all indices. Together we shall build a country you will be free to come and go with your investment. A secure environment for the hospitality business. Manufacturing business. For the farming business.
  27. This 2023 please whatever you do, don’t listen to proxies. Let each candidate stand firmly before you and tell you their policy initiatives. The last time we listened to proxies, you saw where it landed us.
  28. There is reason to hope because the youth in Nigeria and in the diaspora are all fired up and ready to lead this country to unprecedented heights. Recently, I was part of a mentorship that groomed a business initiative in palm oil production by young graduates from the US. They borrowed money, leased machines, and returned to Nigeria with their laptops. They bought a plantation in Akwa Ibom State and went into the oil milling business. After the initial problems, they are on their way to breaking even and getting returns on investment. I learned a lot from those young people. What they all need is motivation and an enabling environment.
  29. Listening, learning, and leadership are inseparable. I promise to be a listener.
  30. I appreciate the high enthusiasm that I see in this room. But the truth is that you in the diaspora need good governance in Nigeria even more than those of us at home. You left the homeland for a country where things work, but unfortunately the problems in Nigeria manage to locate you over the phone. You get to hear of problems of school fees, hospital bills, family cars with knocked engines, and unpaid salaries. It can be overwhelming. With your support we can make Nigeria work to ease the burden you bear here.

 

Thank you very much for making out time from your busy schedules in Georgia to be a part of this continuing consultation.

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Ik Ngene filed this I-witness report from Atlanta. He has tried to exclude figures from this report – to avoid distraction from fact-checkers and fault-finders – in order to capture the essence of Peter Obi’s message. If you have questions about numbers attached to his lecture, contact Mr. Charles Odigbo, his media and publicity chief


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