Labour Party presidential candidate for the 2023 general elections, Peter Obi, on Monday claimed that 100 million Nigerians are grappling with widespread poverty in the country.
Mr Obi spoke at a one-day international colloquium in Port Harcourt organised by Christ Church for presidential candidates of different political parties, with the theme ‘What Do Nigerians Want?’
He said a country that impoverished its people would be faced with crises, unemployment and insecurity.
“There is no way you will have 100 million people living in poverty and you will not have crises. We have more people living in poverty than China and Egypt combined, a population of about 1.5 billion,” asserted Mr Obi.
“There is no where you won’t have this crisis we are going through with 35 to 40 per cent unemployment rate. When compared to the 120 million people who are supposed to be working in Nigeria today, only 40 million are gainfully employed.”
He added, “We have 80 million people who are supposed to be working in the country that are not working. The consequence is that we have a state but it is unproductive.
“Nigeria as a country is unproductive because when we talk about 80 million people that are not working, about 70 per cent of them is made up of the youth in their productive age doing nothing and with so much tendencies.”
He further claimed that the nation is in crisis because more than 90 per cent of its revenue is used for servicing debt.
“Last year virtually all the money we spent was borrowed. The first five months of last year, our total revenue was N1.847 trillion. We spent N1.802 trillion into servicing debt, so a total of 200 million people were left with N45 billion,“ he explained.
Mr Obi promised to stop the “bleeding” of the country, if elected in 2023. He said any money borrowed by Nigeria would be used for investment, adding “our country has to move from sharing formula to production formula.”
“We are not productive because our factories are not working. We need to bring back the country by focusing on our micro small businesses to be able to support them and it is not difficult,” he assured.
“We need to do something to power, if we get it right and start borrowing for investment, that is when we start pulling people out of poverty, the more we pull people out of poverty, the more we reduce criminality.”