Saturday comment2 

Peter Obi, the PDP vice-presidential candidate, acquitted himself well, writes Chidiebere Nwobodo

Greatness is nothing but repeated excellence. The Vice- Presidential debate might have come and gone, but it engraved an indelible impression on my mind and that of so many Nigerians. The fiercest and strategic battle of 21st century is not that of weapons and physical strength, but contestation of ideas. The major takeaway from the debate is that: The richest person on earth is not one whose material worth is in the hundreds of billions of dollars, but an enigmatic out-of-box thinker, with proven ocean of innovative ideas and myriad of tested practical solutions. Peter Obi is the bomb! If presidential election will be held today—strictly using performance at the debate as a yardstick, Peter Obi has already won the election for Atiku Abubakar, because propaganda will always collapse in the face of truth, while facts will trounce conjectures and fallacies. Opinion is free but facts are sacred. The lifespan of a propaganda is shorter than falsehood. Competence is like a light of candle in the dark tunnel of cluelessness and insufferable failures. It can be likened to mature pregnancy that cannot be hidden. That was the message at the debate.

Former Anambra State governor, Peter Obi has demystified governance. He inadvertently told any Nigerian yearning for quality and visionary leadership that running government effectively and efficiently, is not rocket science—that even hitherto sophisticated rocket science has been unwound by technological advancement in recent years. Obi was able to demonstrate in practical terms, that he is not contesting election to grab raw power, but to use it for the common good of all. He towered above and outshined every other vice-presidential candidates on the podium including Prof Yemi Osinbajo. Peter Obi exposed Osinbajo’s policy formulation shallowness, and elevated himself as a practical economist, at the expense and chagrin of rabble-rousing theorist, who was caught in his own web of stale and worn-out narratives.

Throughout the debate, Peter Obi maintained the same tempo he started with. He was calm, confident and firmly in control of his body language. He never for once overshot his time, unlike Osinbajo who had to be stopped by the moderator on several occasions. Obi displayed high level of emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills. He was decent, direct-to-the-point, focused as a bullet. He was consistent with his solution-professing message. He never digressed—not even once. He did not fall for the temptation of mudslinging as leading opposition vice-presidential candidate. He countered the fallacies of the rudderless regime with statistics and figures. He essentially reduced the debate to a lecture room; where he was giving the APC administration a crash course on how-not-to-run-an-economy. Obi talked like an apolitical renowned economist from the private sector, Osinbajo got stuck with the blame game while the debate lasted.

When Osinbajo slipped into “PDP 16 years of loot” propaganda, Obi stayed on the issues. He left Nigerians to puncture the overused phrase of excuses. While Osinbajo was fixating on the “locust years of the PDP”; as if Nigeria gained her independence in 1999 and not 1960, he lost focus and became clueless on the stage like the APC government he serves. He got to the dead-end of grandstanding; propaganda failed him. The cluelessness of the government, especially on economy, was laid bare before Nigerians to see. Peter seized the moment and took him to the cleaners. He effortlessly upgraded the intellectual discourse, to the extent that Osinbajo looked mercilessly beaten like a chick abandoned by its mother hen in a stormy rain. What he reeled out as achievements of President Buhari administration, were the same unverifiable, prejudiced and propagandistic scripts started by Lai Mohammed, which has been recycled by the Buhari Media Center to the boredom of Nigerians.

When Osinbajo regressed into the past of buck-passing, Obi did not only stay on today, but rolled out trajectory to tomorrow’s prosperity. Progressivism is not just a word. Obi is the real progressive-minded leader the nation yearns for. Waziri Atiku Abubakar has an asset as running mate. Peter Obi is like a deep sea of great ideas—he has the vision, road map on how to Get Nigeria Working Again. He is only asking for the electoral mandate to transform Nigeria, because vision without mandate is hallucination. If this nation must leapfrog out of its doldrums of economic quagmire and begin her journey towards greatness, Atiku/Obi ticket is the answer.

The leadership of the APC is jittery that Peter Obi has brought so much credibility, competence, vision, acceptability and purposefulness to the PDP presidential ticket. There’s morbid fear in the ruling party now that Peter Obi’s outstanding performance might have won many Nigerians to the side of Atiku Abubakar campaign, thereby putting President Buhari’s re-election campaign in serious jeopardy. The party has contracted many economic and political analysts who will be featuring on Channels TV shows to discredit Obi. Some writers have also been hired to spin a lot of stories against Peter Obi in the coming weeks. Peter Obi has turned out to be the nemesis of the APC. The more he is maligned and vilified, the better Nigerians get to notice the trail-blazing qualities he is made of.
The APC has run out of ideas on how to curtain rising popularity of Peter Obi. They have been beaten to their own game. One million battalions of spin doctors and propagandists cannot make Nigerians reinforce failure again. Never again! The motivation and strong willpower to get Nigeria working gain is more formidable than the attacks and last kick of a dying horse.

Nwobodo wrote from Abuja