Obi expressed the view in a keynote address entitled, ‘Good governance as a panacea for peace and stability,’ which he delivered at the 7th Annual Youth Peace Conference of the Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu.
Stressing that peace could not exist without good governance, the former governor declared that the country’s political leaders had failed to provide good governance to the people.
“Why do we have so many agitations in Nigeria at the moment? All the agitations you see in Nigeria today are the cumulative effect of leadership failure over several years.
“Nigeria has been mismanaged over the past several years — it doesn’t matter whether it is Peter Obi or anybody, we have all failed. Some people might have done better than others but we have all failed.
“We had leaders who were busy wasting everybody’s time. We have had leaders that are not visionary — leaders that never worked to improve the economy,” Obi said.
Expressing regrets over Nigeria’s failure to achieve the 2015 Millennium Development Goals, the former governor attributed the development to bad leadership.
He said, “By 2015, Nigeria did not achieve any of the MDGs, instead, the level of poverty increased.”
Bemoaning the high cost of governance in the country, Obi said those in power were not telling Nigerians the truth when they said there was not enough money to address the needs of the people.
He declared that the cost of maintaining a governor in Nigeria was unacceptable.
“It is only in this country that you will elect somebody (as governor) and he will put 30 vehicles on the road and call it a convoy. That is pure madness.
“They say there is no money but I will say no! I was there for eight years – the cost of maintaining a governor here in Nigeria is unacceptable. It costs more to keep a governor in Nigeria than in California.
“Several hospitals do not have ambulances but we have ambulances following a governor around, even ambulances follow the governor’s wife, even though the office of first lady is not in the constitution,” he said.
Obi said Nigerians must start demanding good governance from their leaders.
He said, “When I was serving as a governor, I will meet 10 people and all of them will tell me I am doing well even when things are wrong – Nigerians should stop calling people ‘Excellency’ even when they are wrong. We should stop celebrating criminality.
“The country is collapsing because we are celebrating criminality. Peace can only thrive in a system where, even if we are to suffer, the people will see that all of us, including the leaders, are suffering.
“My advice for those in authority is, let the people see you live a life that is normal. If you cut down the cost of governance, you will achieve a lot. If you charter an aircraft to Abuja, you will pay N5m but if you travel to Abuja with a commercial airline, you will pay about N20,000. It is madness to choose to pay N5m instead of N20,000.”
Stressing the need to diversify the economy, which is largely dependent on oil, Obi said Nigeria was borrowing money just to keep people in office.
“Today, we are borrowing to keep people in office and that has to stop. I was a governor of Anambra State and I had a lodge in Abuja; no governor in the United States has a lodge in Washington. The cost of the governor’s lodge in Abuja could have funded enough development in Anambra State.
“We are not investing in education, we are busy quarreling over oil at a time when the knowledge economy is taking over,” he said.
The Vice-Chancellor of Godfrey Okoye University, Prof. Christian Anieke, explained that the theme of the conference, ‘Ecology of peace,’ was informed by the relationship between various elements of the society, which was necessary for peace to thrive.
The Dean, School of Post Graduate Studies, Prof. Mary Gloria Njoku, noted that peace had become a human rights issue.
Njoku spoke of the need for those in positions of authority to make commitments to make and sustain peace.