The Presidential Candidate of the Labour Party for the 2023 general elections, Mr Peter Obi, on Monday stated that the unemployment of 100 million Nigerians was responsible for the widespread poverty in the country.
Obi spoke at a one-day international colloquium in Port Harcourt organised by Christ Church for the presidential candidates of the different political parties, with the theme “What Do Nigerians Want?”.
He said that a country that turned its people into poverty would be faced with crises, unemployment and insecurity.
“There is no way you will have 100million 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.
“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.
“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 is unproductive. Nigeria as a country is unproductive because when we talk about 80million people that are not working, about 70 percent of them is made up of the youth in their productive age doing nothing and with so much tendencies.
“The country is not doing anything, is not working. All the country is doing today is sharing. Everybody is looking for what to share,“ he said.
He said the nation was in crisis because more than 90 percent of its revenue is to used for service debt, noting that no country, or individual could survive with that.
“Last year virtually all the money we spent was borrowed. The first five months of last year, our total revenue was N1.847trillion. We spent N1.802 trillion into servicing debt, so a total of 200million people were left with N45billion,“ he said.
Obi said that the country needed to be taken back from where it was now and that required a number of things.
He 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 is not difficult.
“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.
“Another is in education, our human capital is very low and is unacceptable. We are now 152 out of 158 in human capital development,“ Obi said.