A former governor of Anambra State and the Vice Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Mr Peter Obi has said that Nigeria will hardly become a successful country if bandits are considered above intellectuals for a meeting by the federal government.
Obi stated this on Wednesday during the unveiling and presentation of a book by Prof. Chinyere Okunna at Nnamdi Azikiwe University in Awka.
Prof. Okunna is the Director of UNIZIK Radio and was a Commissioner and chief of staff to Obi while he was governor.
Obi who was a special guest of honour said, “Oil money used to be the major earner for Nigeria, but today the world is moving away from oil. The knowledge sector is now the industry that is earning money.
“Prof Okunna (the author) who we are celebrating today, I can tell you earns less than a political thug. Nigeria prefers to pay bandits and dialogue with them than to pay or meet with resourceful and hard-working intellectuals.
“Nigeria will not succeed if we continue asking bandits to come to a meeting and we are not calling professors to a meeting. That is why the country is where it is today. May God help Nigeria.”
Obi said he never knew the author of the book before appointing her commissioner, but he became interested in her when he saw her CV as a nominee when he was governor. He said many people protested her appointment because they said she was not a member of the party but he remained resolute because he needed the right team to do the job.
He admonished that, “People come to me to ask advice on the kind of people they should give appointments to and I say to them, ‘take people who can tell you the truth no matter how painful’.
“If you listen to the people who tell you the sweet things all the time, then you’ll fail. If you have an exco where they do not argue and disagree with you, then you have a bunch of idiots and of course, we have a lot of idiots in Nigeria. People who claim they know everything are idiots. How can we pay people who are bandits when we have not paid those who are working?” Obi asked.
Earlier, the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof Charles Esimone said, “We’re working to become the 200th University in the world. I have seen the vision and it is achievable.
“It’ll take focus, innovation and a lot of hard work to achieve that. Excellence is the thing we should be celebrating in universities, innovation, scholarship and others.”