The former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, has opposed the use of the Paris Club refunds to pay workers’ salaries, advising that the money should rather be used in a planned manner that would be of benefit to the people. He made the suggestion on Sunday while featuring on a discussion programme on Classic FM, Lagos.
His words: “States should be made to save the refunds. They have enough to pay salaries and meet their other obligations. There is no reason for any Governor not to pay salaries. Why must we share everything? We must develop a culture of saving. By now we should have changed our Constitution to say that we should save 10% of our oil revenue. We must realise that we must deprive ourselves of Epicurean comfort and prepare adequately for the rainy days.”
Speaking on ways the country could get out of recession, Obi said that basically economies were driven by faith and advised Nigeria’s leaders to always behave, by action and in words, in a way that would elicit confidence in the economy. He said that while he was not averse to borrowing, “there should be a clear plan on what to do with the money and how to pay back.”
On sustainable development of the country’s transport sector, Obi advocated concession, including airports and roads, but cautioned that they should be given to the right persons who would do the work well and not to cronies or family members of people in Government.
When asked about the talk in Anambra that he was able to deliver as Governor because he had more money with which to work, Obi emphatically said it was not true. His words: “First, I do not know why some people are concerned with comparing me and those that took over from me. The assertion of receiving 25% of what I received is totally unfounded. Let us take our first three years; go and check the statistics from the Ministry of Finance, those that took over from me actually received more than I did in the period under review.
At that time, I did not complain; I utilised whatever we received and was even able to save out of it. Remember, at that time our IGR (Internally Generated Revenue) was smaller; we did not receive any extra as Paris Club Refund, even the small extra we received here and there, we saved them.”
Obi noted that the managing of economies is not achieved by dwelling on comparisons or by delivery of good speeches, but by effective management of money. He said that in his efforts towards fiscal discipline, a lot of people said they were not happy with him, but insisted that those that govern states must realise that the business of governance is not about making individuals happy, but about contributing to the building of public wealth and welfare. “I am not stingy but I have an allergy to money being used wrongly,” he submitted.
On the way forward for the country, Obi advised investment in education, especially by Government partnering with the Church. His words: “If we don’t invest in our children now what will we do when they are old? Government has no business running schools; that was why we handed over mission schools to the owners. Our job should be supervision, not transaction.”