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HomeNews2023: What Obi’s Sudden Popularity Means For Nigeria – The Economist

2023: What Obi’s Sudden Popularity Means For Nigeria – The Economist

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The Economist of London on Monday recognised the growing popularity of the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi

Naija News reports that the publication gave the recognition in an article published on Monday, titled ‘Peter Obi, A Man Who Carries His Own Suitcases, Could Be Nigeria’s Next President’.

In the article, The Economist said that the sudden prominence of the former Governor of Anambra State represents a rare opportunity for Nigeria to get it right in 2023.

The Economist stated that Obi has led the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, and his counterpart in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, in the three polls released recently.

The publication, however, maintained that there is still much for the LP candidate to do to secure the required votes across the country.

The article reads: “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 casts.

“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.”

Obi’s Surging Popularity

The Economist said Obi’s surging popularity is due to perceptions of his character, adding that he would be the first politician in decades to show that a new sort of politics is possible in Nigeria.

The article makes reference to the LP candidate’s rising popularity, including among youths and on social media, while describing him as an “unlikely revolutionary”.

It reads: “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.

“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 smartwatches, says he “has more than two or three).”

Obi’s Shortcomings

The Economist raised concern that Obi’s party, LP,  isn’t on the ballot for a significant number of other seats, especially in the National Assembly, for the 2023 elections.

In the article, the publication expressed disappointment that Obi has failed to emphasise his proposed policies on addressing insecurity as if elected as president.

The article also cited the Pandora Papers report which claimed that the former Governor allegedly refused to declare his assets and was said to have been involved in tax evasion.

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