Home Opinion Peter Obi: A bastion for democratic renaissance in Nigeria, By Atieme Ogbolosingha

Peter Obi: A bastion for democratic renaissance in Nigeria, By Atieme Ogbolosingha

Peter Obi

Peter Obi has galvanised political interest in Nigerian youth that has never been seen in the political history of Nigeria, at least in this fourth republic or to be milder, in Southern Nigeria.

Growing up, I remember electioneering seasons do not interest the average young person. This could be attributed to their loss of confidence in the electoral process, whether this is a justifiable reason is a different question. However, it would be difficult to deny the fact that Nigeria’s elections are typically marred by ballot box snatching, voter inducement, vote manipulation, intimidation and widespread violence, sometimes leading to the murder of election officials, voters and party officials, and of course destruction of properties.

The 2023 electioneering season has elicited enormous interest in the youth. This is largely linked to the candidacy of Peter Obi. Mr Obi appears to enthuse the youths and has galvanised the youth to take back their country. Some of the attributes of Mr Obi which is atypical of a Nigerian politician and “big man” are his humility, simplicity, empathy, kind disposition and ability to engage with the electorate at all levels. I recall the day when Obi had a hangout with Comedian AY, and he was asked very uncomfortable questions by a lady. The issues raised were around bad governance and Mr Obi can perhaps be excused from most of the issues that were raised, but, he responded with candour and in a humane tone, reflecting his appreciation of the suffering encountered by Nigerians. There are countless instances when such questions have been asked by the ordinary person and Mr Obi would attempt to answer candidly.

Perhaps the breakdown in leadership and extreme poverty, insecurity and general collapse of the economy has also contributed to what is now called “The Obidient Movement”. It could be argued that the traits outlined above are insufficient to make a good leader, and that is somewhat correct. However, a good leader should have those qualities and that distinguishes Mr Obi from his opponents. The proponents of the former stance would like us to believe a politician should not be simple, approachable, kind and empathetic. Sadly, this trend has made our political leaders unaccountable at all levels. They do not bother to engage the electorate, attend interviews to sell their candidacy and they often reduce electioneering campaign to a comic strip. In the past, these politicians would go to market place and plait hair of women, take photo ops while eating with disadvantaged people and all sorts of gimmicks. Fortunately, this disturbing trend has reduced in this election cycle, and candidates are compelled to talk about issues, although there has been multiple cases of unnecessary finger pointing where issues are thrown away during the campaign. Hopefully, our electoral landscape continues to mature beyond candidate bashing and focus on the fine details of their manifestos.

Coming back to my earlier points about Mr Obi’s attributes, I can say those attributes are complimented by stellar leadership qualities that are extremely lacking in our polity. These include qualities such as financial prudence, incorruptibility, dismantling security challenges, human capital development and a firm commitment for agro-development. The track record of educational revitalisation, financial prudence and incorruptibility of Mr Obi is evidenced in his reign as Anambra governor. Whilst people on the other divide would attempt to argue this, the facts are obvious to any unbiased observer and the record is publicly available for germane scrutiny.

I’m unsure whether his opponents are able to beat their chest about corruption, financial prudence and strides in the education and health sector. This is a case of white and black!

Nigeria needs a prudent leader to facilitate economic growth and reduce our debt burden. Mr Obi has that track record, while his opponents, though not convicted by our largely compromised judicial system, are known for extensive corrupt practices and cannot claim financial frugality which is severely needed in Nigeria.

Nigeria needs a president who can work day and night to meet the challenges the citizens face. Mr Obi has shown over the last few months how he will work day and night, and take responsibility for his decisions. I’m unsure if same can be said about his major contenders. The electioneering season has exposed all the flaws of these candidates and certain candidates can barely make coherent sentence and would likely produce a government run by unknown faces, should they win. Buhari’s reign has shown how a leader can be absent and detached from the very people they lead. Aso Rock (Nigeria’s seat of power) should not be a retirement home if we wish to make progress from the abyss Buhari has thrown Nigeria into.

Mr Obi is not a messiah. The youths must recognise they will be disappointed if they confer some messianic attribute to Obi. The rot in our system requires so much effort to bring us to pre-2015 level.

Also, Mr Obi, has shown attributes of a good learner and he needs to learn and get a grip on current issues. He needs to have clear plans on how he intends to achieve his plans on curbing security and the economy. There is no doubt financial frugality will be a stepping stone to solving most of Nigeria’s economic issues, it is insufficient to expect the people to trust your ability to turn things around without clearly selling those ideas. Nonetheless, as an academic, I would say Mr Obi is far ahead of his two major contenders in many respects, and I would be glad to score him 70% whilst his two major rivals will be scoring 50% and 35%. Whilst this is anecdotal, it shows how excellent Mr Obi is, compared to others and should ideally be coronated by a unanimous voice vote to become Nigeria’s president, if merit matters to the majority of voters.

One of the interesting but sad fact about politics is that, every candidate is deemed to be suitable by people and we fall prey to the thought that voters share their votes to these candidates and anyone can win. However, in reality, while each candidate has useful attributes, rigorous parameters for assessing the pool of candidates will always favour one candidate over the others. The ability of voters to use multi-factorial parameters to assess the candidates in the context of Nigerian reality with a view to ensuring development, unity, security and prosperity, is largely lacking. In the current context, Mr Obi comes top and I hope he clinches the top seat and start rebuilding from the rubbles generated from the disastrous leadership of Buhari, who claims to leave a legacy of a free, fair, credible and peaceful election. Given Buhari’s lacklustre performance, we can only hope the election is devoid of the usual shenanigans that characterise elections in Nigeria.

In concluding, the Nigerian voters have a simple choice in the election on Saturday. It’s a choice between growth or backwardness, students in school or students at home, poverty or wealth, brain drain or brain gain, security or insecurity, economic growth or economic instability.

Whoever wins this election is what Nigeria truly deserves because the leaders we choose truly reflects the citizens! But to a discerning person, the choice of candidate that offers significant chance to propel the country forward is Mr Obi. On the unlikely event that Obi does not win, it is my desire that the ignition of political interest in the youths outlive this election cycle.

Atieme Ogbolosingha, a concerned Nigerian resident in the UK

Previous articleEFCC intercepts N32.4m believed to be for vote buying in Lagos
Next articleGroup says it mobilised 15 million voters for 2023 elections

Leave a Reply