A former governor of Anambra State and vice-presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last general election, 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 Wednesday during the unveiling and presentation of a book ‘Communication and Media Studies; Mutiple Perspectives’ by Prof. Chinyere Okunna at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka.
The author, 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 honor, 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, adding that 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.
According to Obi, “People come to me to tell me they are taking government and they want advice of the kind of people they should give appointment, 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 200th university in the world. I have seen the vision and it is achievable.
“It’ll takes 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.”