It was an interesting event as several Vice presidential candidates, including Yemi Osinbajo of the ruling All Progressives Congress and Peter Obi of the Peoples Democratic Party debated yesterday at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel.
Present for the debate were Khadija Abdullahi-Iya, the vice presidential candidate of the Alliance for New Nigeria, Ganiyu Galadima of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria and Umma Getso of the Young Progressives Congress.
The debate was anchored by Imoni Amarere.
Obi said “On the issue of unemployment, which is worsening, we can see that millions of our children are out of school. You can see from a study that there is a straight link between SMEs and growing your economy, and we’re not supporting our own SMEs very well.
“If you look at what China has been able to do with SMEs, SMEs in China is contributing to 60 per cent of their GDP. And 60 per cent of China’s GDP is 7.2tn (dollars), which is 18 per cent of Nigeria’s GDP.
“China today, using the same SMEs, is guaranteeing 10 million jobs annually. Half of this year alone, China has produced 7.2 million jobs, which is over 40 per cent of their target. Within the same period, Nigeria lost four million jobs.”
Obi said, “That is why we have issues of insecurity, instability and all sorts of things we are witnessing today. We now live in a country where we have the highest number of poor people in any nation — 87 million and growing six per cent every minute.
“Our country today has the highest number of school children in the world. Our HDI (human development index) has dropped from 152 to 157. Our global competitive index has dropped from 124 to 127.
“In terrorism, we have moved from seven to number three just behind Iran and Afghanistan. Our inequality has worsened. Our misery index has worsened. Stress index now places us at 148 of 149. These are hinged on two things from studies and that is on education and unemployment.”
Obi said, “It is not that you cannot fight corruption but you can fight it more aggressively while addressing economic issues. For example, in 2015, unemployment was 24 percent. Today, it is 40 per cent. In 2015, we attracted $21bn in Foreign Direct Investment but we attracted only $12bn last year. Our GDP was $500bn in 2015 while per capita was $2, 500 today it is under $1, 900.
On fuel subsidy
Obi said, “If you look at our stock market, we have lost over N2tn in one year. So, that is not a policy. You’re just fighting corruption, you are not creating jobs. You cannot shut down your shop and be chasing criminals.”
“What we are subsiding today is inefficiency. If you get it right, the prices still come down. There is no way a country can have a budget of N340bn for health, which translates to N5 a day for (each of) its citizens, and then pay a trillion for subsidy.
“There is no way you can have an education budget, which is the most critical component of the development at over N400bn and you’re paying subsidy of a trillion. It is a waste. You need to reverse it because you’re not dealing with the engine that will drive your economy tomorrow.”