I Need Pocket Money To Buy Cabin, Sandals—Peter Obi

Most often, the greatest route to the lives of great men are not through the biggest battle they wedged nor the empire they built; it is more through their little foibles and even their naughtiest pranks.

As you may be aware, my boss, Mr. Peter Obi, is going for an Oxford University top Leadership and Management programme after the handover. One Corporate institution is sponsoring the programme.

This morning, he was discussing on phone with a top member of that institution. Obi thanked her for the payment of the money for the programme and all that, but he quickly reminded her that one thing remained: pocket money to enable him buy sandals, school wears, Cabin biscuit and related school needs. Laughing, the woman added Milo, Milk and sugar. Obi thundered Gbam, I am glad you know all this.

There is something didactic about this exchange: once again, it brought out Obi’s attitude towards getting whatever he desires. He has money to buy all the cabins and milos in this world, but he would rather spare his money since an institution is ready to provide that.

This is exactly the philosophy that guided him when he was the Governor. He got many institutions to provide for his needs, as well as that of the State, which, off course, he reduced to Buddhist minimum. Thus, he was able to save a lot of money. Consider this: N75 Billion Naira (cash and investment).

Just yesterday, one of the most respected economists in Nigeria and the CEO of cowry Assets Management, Mr. Johnson Chukwu was on CNBC live programme at 11:30. He spoke on the Nigerian economy and advised in-coming Governors to govern according to Obi’s model. He lamented that outgoing State governors are all leaving debts for their successors, even those frontline States in terms of allocation. He said that Obi was able to leave 75 Billion Naira because he reduced the cost of governance.

I am part of it and I can attest to that. How many governors fly economy? How many stay in middle-ranking hotels? How many resist chartering of planes? How many buy their own tickets and queue at airports like every other Nigerian? Obi did all this, always arguing that he would not because of transient position change his life style. “I will live my normal life so that the moment I cease being governor, I will not miss anything”, was his usual quip. Here is a man who ordinarily has the personal money to maintain any type of life style he chooses.

Mr. Johnson spoke the truth. States are no just leaving debts, they are also leaving arrears of salaries. Irrespective of the feeling of discomfort by some people, we must continue to celebrate Obi. He did not owe workers, he did not owe contractors and yet he left 75 Billion naira (cash and investment).

If some people have goose pimples over this, let them tell us the right people to celebrate. As for you, what do you say?

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Articles by Mazi Oderaigbo