Dear readers, I bring to you, the concluding part of the speech by Chief Sir Peter Obi, as given at the annual event organized by Covenant Christian Centre, known as PLATFORM. His topic was, CUTTING THE COST OF GOVERNANCE. Please enjoy the rest of this very sensational speech…
Apart from saving for the future, we also need to begin a massive investment in education to equip our children with the skills to compete in today's knowledge economy. Today, Nigeria is not only lacking in the number of enrolment of children in schools but has also progressively deteriorated in the standard or quality of education the few who are opportune to attend school are receiving. We currently occupy the unenviable position of the country with the highest number of out of school children in Africa and the number two in the entire world. The greatest issue militating against our global competitive index is the issue of education and health (138th in the world). Today, our school enrolment in basic education is about 60% .The reason why countries of the Asian tigers have leapfrogged Nigeria is the quality and spread of their educational system. While they were and are massively investing in education, ours is the reverse. Investment in education is synonymous to investing in the future of a country especially today that the world has moved from baggage economy to knowledge economy. In fact, the focus on education has changed to what is now called STEM, which means Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics which will rule the World tomorrow. It is now acknowledged that by 2020 the global economy will have a shortfall of 85m STEM skill jobs and nations are equipping their children from infancy for that challenge and we are not doing anything. To give an example of today's knowledge economy, Apple at April 28, 2017 has market cap of $750bn which is higher than the combined GDP of Nigeria and South Africa, the two biggest economy in Africa, Google has a market cap of $600bn which is about 150% of Nigerian GDP, Microsoft has market cap of $515bn is far bigger than Nigeria GDP, Amazon $430bn is bigger than our GDP, Facebook that was established in 2004 has a market cap of $416bn which is above our current GDP. Even the networth of the founder, Mark Zuckerberg of $65bn is about 3times our 2017 national budget. Apple's first quarter revenue is $78bn is about twice the budget of Federal and states governments combined.
I can go on and on how the world has left us behind but there is no pint crying over spilled milk. What matters is what we are doing to remedy the situation but regrettably we seem not to even be conscious of how bad our situation is or what we should do to reverse it. Today we have approximately 12million pupils in our Universal Basic Education when we should have been above 20m. Assuming we target a minimum population of 20m under our Universal Basic Education by 2018, our minimum annual investment should be N200bn, that is, N10,000.00 per pupil. This is my recommendation on how we can fund this annual expenditure for basic education, which is the foundation upon which all subsequent training is built on. The Federal government should contribute annually 50% which is N100billion, the 36 state governments, N50billion and the balance of N50billion should be funded by Special Education Tax.
Should we now decide to commit to giving education the required necessary attention and funding, let me now recommend further how this money can be best utilized to make it transformative instead of transactional which is the case today. I recommend that funds meant for Basic education be domiciled in the office of UBEC and sent directly to the schools based on each individual school headcount, at the rate of N10,000.00 per pupil. The funds should be managed by each School's management authority to be composed of school head teacher, teachers and parents. While the School Management Authorities administer the funds based on defined standards set by the government, the government's role should focus on defining the standard as well as supervising and enforcing those standards.
The fourth issue I will like to touch on is the issue of proper job creation and employment particularly by SMEs which is the engine and biggest employer in any economy and Nigeria is not an exception. I am happy that the government seems to recognize this by stating in its Economic Recovery and Growth Plan that it will encourage Nigerians “to buy what we produce and produce what we buy” and patronize Nigerian companies. Serious countries create enduring employment by nurturing and supporting their local enterprises. What is however missing is the failure of the economic recovery and growth plan to put in policy of prompt payment for services rendered. Today government has killed more businesses that have supported their growth. About 75% of business that collapsed was as a result of government indebtedness. In other serious countries and I use UK as an example, government cannot owe for goods or services rendered for more than 30days. In most other sub-Saharan economies including Ghana it is 60days. In Nigeria the reverse is the case, businesses are owed for years. Examples of this abound everywhere, but let me use this case, a particular state Governor ordered for 50 Jeeps for his traditional rulers and other prominent office holders within his government at the cost of N9m from a company amounting to a total of N450m. The company estimated to make a gross profit of N1.5m. Following this order, the company borrowed from the bank, N300m (and added their own capital) to execute this order. For four years now they have not been paid. Not only have they lost their profit and their equity contribution but their indebtedness to the bank is now N732m. The bank has forwarded the company to AMCON and other financial authorities as a serial debtor for defaulting on their loan and the company has retrenched over 200 of his workers. While the governor has received all manner of titles from the traditional rulers and several awards from various organisations for his performance. The above is the case for several enterprises especially SMEs whom are still pursuing various government establishments for their due and matured payment for over 10years
I know there is a lot we need to do, while we have lost yesterday, we must not lose tomorrow. Nigeria was a signatory in 2000 for the millennium development goals (MDGs) which elapsed in 2015 without Nigeria as a nation achieving any of the goals, though you can say one or two states were able to make reasonable impact. Today, Nigeria is a signatory to sustainable development goals (SDG) (which is inclusive of all that is required for a country to develop) signed by 193 countries in September 2015 which will be concluded in 2030. All that average Nigerian demands of the drivers of this Nigerian vehicle is having been a signatory to this global destination can we as other nations of the world journey our part to this destination as other signatories by ensuring that our planning, budgeting, execution and delivery are strictly based on the SDG destination because it is clear and measurable. As I conclude, let me quote these two renowned personalities, first one is Professor Robert J. Shiller of Yale University in his recent interview about the economy 'to talks about the economy is to talk about the psychology of people, what they think of their future wellbeing'. And Prof. Donald Jacobs, founder of Kellogg Business School said, 'all economies are driven by hope of the citizens on the future of their nation”. These two quotes show that in effect, people's perception of their present condition and the outlook for the future determines how they respond to government policies. We are borrowing to do flyovers when many roads are bad. We even borrow to do decorations on it. Minister please stop approving all this state governors borrowing, talk to them on cost of governance. Section 162 of our constitution did not help us to save because it says share all but even Motor Park touts union saves. No nation can survive without savings. The Investment sovereignty act says we should save our excess but you and I know there can't be excess after sharing. They are about to share $1.65bn out of the $6b excess crude deduction, what for? NNPC and her sister are remitting $21.8bn and have scheduled time for payback. I appeal you should not share any money because they are the once we are now finding in houses. Minister, if we save $2.5bn from 2018 to 2030 at 7% reserve income, it will give us $55bn, this will enhance stable exchange rate. Let's start the saving with the money about to be shared. We need to invest aggressively in education because out of the 57million uneducated children in the world, 10.7% of them are Nigerians. Even Facebook's budget for the year is bigger than our GDP. Send finances made for education to the school heads and parents directly not commissions or ministries else the money will go through a transit of many checkpoints. While I was the governor, I bought computers based on one computer per 10 students costing N2.4bn, the money is there, the FG can do it. Government do not create jobs, they facilitate them by promoting SMEs and encouraging local productions. This government killed over 80% of failed private enterprises in Nigeria. Imagine a Governor who bought 50 jeeps for traditional rulers for up to four years now from a private firm and has not paid making the company sack 200 workers and acquired over N732milliion debt after he has collected all the traditional titles. I gave INNOSON order to supply us 1000 vehicles and I paid him cash, even admidst fear and quality misconceptions, none of those cars had any issues with the people's fear. So, if I must say OK to the government in promoting the made in Nigeria stuffs, let's first of all go to all government officials and governors houses and make sure 60% of the fittings and everything there is made in Nigeria. If any contractor says I owe him while I left office, let him make it public, I will resign from politics. If you see any house belonging to Peter Obi apart from the one in Onitsha which is official, confiscate it. There is nothing in the constitution called security votes, what we have is contingency funds and its being abused. I gave 257 Anambra secondary schools N10million annually, 1bn to hospitals and health colleges. I had only N2.5bn as security votes and I should be invited to account for it. They searched my apartment and saw only my wife's belongings, not even my watch and they said I don't live there. I have only two black shoes I bought for $49.99 which I travel with everywhere to avoid being hurt which is the reason for having shoes and a wrist watch I bought 18 years ago, why buy another and drop it n the table, what time is it keeping. My sadness is not just that I live in that block, my worry is that that money was dumped and wasn't yielding profits, if the owner has kept it in the Bank, it would by now yield around $7bn which is N2.8bn that can carter for a state's annual educational budget.
Thanks you all for listening. God Bless Nigeria!!!