Obi: In 2023, we need a competent and fit leader

• ‘I can’t predict my supporters’ reaction if I lose’
• ‘I didn’t offer Kwankwaso N40b to step down for me’

Presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr Peter Obi, yesterday, declined comments on the possibility of conceding defeat, if the outcome of next year’s election went contrary to his expectation.

He also declared that he was not in a position to predict the reaction of his supporters if he lost the election.

The former governor of Anambra State, who spoke at a forum organised by the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) in Lagos, urged Nigerians to vote for him to solve socio-economic challenges facing the country.

Fielding question on the opinion poll conducted by Fitch Solutions Country Risk and Industry Research, which predicted that the presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, would win the election and his victory is going to trigger social instability and protests because of his party’s Muslim-Muslim ticket, Obi said it is impossible for him to predict how his supporters were going to react if such prediction came to pass.

He said: “Let me be honest with you, if I can predict tomorrow, I won’t be here with you. I don’t know who is going to be alive in February. The only person who can answer that question is God. I have a limitation and I leave those who can predict tomorrow to do that. All I know is that I am on a pathway to win and if not, I won’t be here talking.

“I am here trying to tell Nigerians to hire me, that I can do the job. On how my followers and supporters will react if the election does not go our way, you know it is very strange when people talk about my supporters because I don’t know all these people calling themselves Obidients. They do a lot of things on their own.

“But I have said to them, I will not fail them, I will rather die than to fail them. However, I don’t know them, mine is to continue to encourage them, but how they will react if I win or lose, my brother, no comment.”

The presidential hopeful urged Nigerians to use opportunity of the coming election to elect a competent leader who has the mental and physical ability to solve myriads of challenges facing the country, disclosing that he is in the race to end leadership crisis that has crippled the country.

He said Nigerians are tired of listening to excuses and blame games from their leaders but want an improvement on all facets of the society.

Obi, who reiterated his main agenda of transforming the country from consumption to production, said the country is blessed with fertile land to make farming a cash cow and pledged to resuscitate Bank of Agriculture (BoA). He also promised to encourage mechanised farming to create jobs for million of youths and solve many social problems in the country, regretting that there are less than 50,000 tractors in Nigeria.

When asked if he was ready to work with whoever wins the presidential election to implement some of his economic and development agenda, the LP presidential candidate said, “if you have a company, will you employ an incompetent person to lead and asking him to hire competent person.

“You cannot use the process of yesterday to solve today’s problem. Nigerians should not hire a conductor to drive a bus. Leadership changes everything, but we must elect a competent leader to lead the country. What we have now is a situation where those who did not go to school are teachers.”

Reacting to the allegation that he offered the presidential candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, N40 billion to allow him emerge as the presidential candidate of the failed merger between their parties, Obi said he never offered anybody money to either step down or vote for him. He also denied insinuations that there are moneybags financing his campaign, disclosing that he has been using his resources so far.

He said: “I just set up a committee to manage our campaign fund and I have not received any money from anybody but that does not mean we are not expecting people to contribute to our campaign fund.”

He described nepotism as worst form of corruption and urged Nigerians to support him in fighting corruption in any form in Nigeria.

He said it is unfortunate that many have not linked high level of poverty in the country to the increasing rate of criminality, noting that when people have no hope of what to eat, they will take to criminality and promised to change the orientation of many youths that have become internet fraudsters, also known as Yahoo yahoo.

Obi, who disclosed that his manifesto is not ready said, “we are not bereft of written documents and ideas in this country, but the will to implement those documents. Manifesto is not about paper, it is about getting the job done.”

Speaking on the borrowing spree of the current administration, Obi said: “Nothing is wrong with borrowing if invested properly. Every nation in the world that I have studied borrows. The problem with borrowing is what you do with the money.

It’s okay to borrow for production, but there’s a problem when you borrow for consumption. I will only borrow for production and I will explain to Nigerians why I’m borrowing. I must talk to the people because the job of a leader is to communicate with the the people”, he explained.

While stressing the importance of the rule of law, Obi disclosed that he would invest in intangible assets such as education to drive the economy and attract foreign investors to the country.

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