Peter Obi Represents ‘A Rare Opportunity’ For Nigeria – The Economist

2023 Election: We Need To Restructuring - Peter Obi

The London-based Economist has stated that Peter Obi, the Labour Party’s (LP) presidential candidate, represents a “rare opportunity” for Nigeria.

The Economist, in an article titled ‘Peter Obi, A Man Who Carries His Own Suitcases, Could Be Nigeria’s Next President,’ said there is still much for the LP candidate to do to get the required votes across the country.

The article said “As public campaigning was about to begin in late September, Nigeria was rocked by the release of three polls showing Mr Obi well ahead of the two candidates representing the main parties that have misruled Nigeria since the restoration of its democracy in 1999,.

“In two of the polls Mr Obi has a lead of more than 15 percentage points over Bola Tinubu, of the incumbent All Progressives Congress (APC), and Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the main opposition.

“What makes this even more extraordinary is that Mr Obi is standing for the Labour Party, whose candidate at the previous presidential election in 2019 won just 5,074 votes out of 28m cast.

“Mr Obi’s sudden ascent represents a rare chance for Nigeria. The country ought to be rich: it has huge reserves of oil, gas and other minerals, plenty of fertile land and a young population of go-getters. Yet Nigerians are poorer today than they were ten years ago and 40% of them survive on less than $1.90 a day.

“The reasons why Nigeria is poor are rotten politics, bad governance and corruption. Politicians in Nigeria have long stirred up ethnic and religious divisions by promising to direct state resources to members of their own group.

“Once in power they have pursued contorted economic policies such as a fixed exchange rate and massive fuel subsidies. Some policies seem to make sense only as a way of allowing cronies to siphon off cash.”

The Economist describes Tinubu of the APC and Atiku of the PDP as not offering much in terms of developmental change, citing previous allegations linking both candidates to crimes in the United States.

The article also mentions Obi’s alleged refusal to declare his assets in the Pandora Papers report.

The Economist, on the other hand, stated that while winning the presidency does not guarantee that issues such as corruption will be addressed, “if he were to sustain his lead until the election in February, he would be the first politician in decades to show that a new kind of politics is possible in Nigeria.”

The article, which includes excerpts from The Economist’s interview with Obi, mentions the LP candidate’s growing popularity, particularly among young people and on social media, while describing him as a “unlikely revolutionary.”

“Mr Obi’s surging popularity is due, above all, to perceptions of his character. In a country cursed by politicians of extraordinary ego and entourage, his supporters marvel that as governor Mr Obi queued at airports holding his own luggage,” the article reads.

“He also slashed the size of his motorcade when he found that 13 of the cars were empty, he says. This not only plays well with young voters, but also annoys his rivals.

“Kashim Shettima, Mr Tinubu’s running-mate, grumbles that Mr Obi “tends to glamorise poverty” by claiming to own only one watch. (Mr Shettima, who likes smart watches, says he “has more than two or three”.)”

According to the article, Obi stated that he would prioritize addressing insecurity, but The Economist noted that he is “less keen to emphasize his proposed policies as president.”

The Economist also expressed concern that the Labour Party will not be represented on the ballot for a significant number of other seats, particularly in the national assembly, in the 2023 elections.

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