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Between a warehouse and bullion van economist, by Benjamin Akuboh

Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (l) and Mr. Peter Gregory Obi

*From the dire economic situation in which Nigerians have found themselves, a warehouse economist is way more useful to us than a bullion van economist

Benjamin Akuboh

It was not easy, neither was it intellectually inspiring to find an apt title for this article, basically as a result of the subject matter and individuals referenced.

For instance, the gaffes and failings of Bola Ahmed Tinubu on the political trail are manifestly evident for all to see to the extent that nothing new or worse can be said.

Also, the Peter Gregory Obi phenomenon and metamorphosis have left both his admirers and traducers bewildered.

Perhaps, the starting point should be a brief evaluation of the man both Tinubu and Obi are battling to succeed in office.

President Muhammadu Buhari has been accused of many things but corruption, especially financial corruption and inducement.

That has been hard to pin on the taciturn Military General from Katsina State. He has seldom ever faced official or unofficial accusations of misplaced public funds.

He did promise us free and fair elections as his legacy, and he has so far kept to his words. He systematically, plugged all his loopholes that provide room for electoral malpractices.

Although, several pressures from his party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, have compelled him to shift ground a little.

But the message is not lost on anyone. He embarked on Electoral Act reforms and the operationalisation of the Biometric Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) which would prevent underage as well as non-citizens of Nigeria from voting across the country.

His blatant refusal to name Tinubu as a worthy successor is a silent scream that keen observers have heard.

It is honourable when a man chooses not to recommend a product he does not trust, in spite of whatever the consequences may be.

Perhaps, the masterstroke is Buhari’s policy to redesign the Naira in order to invalidate billions of the national currency reportedly hoarded  by desperate politicians to buy votes.

The Duke of Daura, I say thank you. You have done well!

The problem that Nigeria is facing right now is a serious one. We are at the most important political crossroads we have ever faced in our almost 24 years of unbroken democracy.

Hence, it is safe to say that the two major political parties, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and APC that have led us since 1999 did so by taking us down a rabbit hole.

In line with their fading glory and incompetence, the PDP threw up a candidate from the same Northern part of Nigeria as the current President who has done eight years in office.

The nomination of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar occurred through a process some still regard as daylight robbery.

This is because a candidate, Aminu Tambuwal, during the PDP primaries gave his votes to Atiku Abubakar to help him amass the majority to defeat his major rival, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State.

The PDP presidential candidate, who is the self-acclaimed unifier, has failed to unify his party ever since the fallout from the primaries.

Many thought the APC would do the right thing all the way by producing a balanced ticket.

A southerner and Muslim won their primaries and he went on to pick a vice presidential candidate of the same faith.

The precedence for this is the infamous June 12 elections of 1993.

Most people consider such a decision in a plural society like ours as insensitive, unjust, and  unfair no matter how tone-deaf the APC wants to make Nigerians believe.

Nigerians did not have a problem with the 1993 election because the country was not this divided across ethnic and religion lines.

The religious sentiments that are overtly and covertly displayed in our nation today are worrisome.

Nigeria is a secular nation, and to delegate the two top government offices to the same faith is not a show of equity to the other faith.

Moreso, current reality where the overwhelming majority of the Security Chiefs are also Muslim and Northerners creates room for founded apprehension.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria and the Head of the Senate are also Muslims in the present administration. Such does not inspire hope and inclusiveness.

Therefore, it is not surprising that many treat the Tinubu/Kassim Shettima ticket with suspicion.

The vehicle they are using, the APC does not inspire hope and fair play.

Also, the candidate himself has a questionable pedigree made worse by his daily gaffes on the campaign trail.

He has not been able to articulate an economic policy different from the present circumstance of the nation relying on rents for survival.

On the contrary, Obi has already reiterated that he would push Nigeria from consumption to production.

He promised an economy where resources would not be wasted unnecessarily.

Currently, the waste in our economy is institutional and ingrained in the fibre of all of our government agencies.

Politicians and civil servants are all aware of this ailing symptom of our economy and administrative malady.

But Obi has shown courage and commitment to fighting and terminating this ugly trend.

However, the same cannot be said of the former Lagos State governor, who had bullion vans moving in and out of his residence unchecked and unquestioned during the 2019 presidential election. Peter Obi is aware of the responsibility of being a leader and the great risk involved in success or failure.

His track record has shown that he would actually be accountable, instead of gleefully delegating and assigning risks and blames to others as his opponents and average Nigerian top politicians love to do.

It is also important to note that Obi has physically proved that he is of a sound mind and body (this is actually a worthy talking point in Nigerian politics) and has demonstrated this a countless number of times by honouring invitations to media houses and townhall meetings irrespective of political leanings.

Tinubu, on the other hand, has not shown readiness to do the same.

Nigeria is yet to recover from the actions of previous presidents who scarcely ever addressed the people, and whose most famous speeches were made outside Nigeria.

Although, Buhari made a few speeches, they were at least coherent, unlike the APC presidential candidate, Tinubu. We wonder what we would get from him

Tinubu openly, has admitted that he does not use social media anymore.

But it would be a welcome development to have a President with an active Twitter account on a platform where he can relate with millions of Nigerians by himself.

Tinubu has myriads of unverified information about his past, and has never bothered to debunk any of them convincingly.

David Hundeyin did a comprehensive documentary of Tinubu’s shady life in America which has also been characteristically, met without a response.

Before this begins to look like an ad hominem attack on Bola Ahmed Tinubu, it should be clear that this writer does not have anything against his person.

Rather, this is an examination of what he stands for. He represents a larger phenomenon.

The battle line has been drawn between the dissatisfied citizens and the ruling class (ruling party, if you like).

Tinubu represents the unwillingness of the political elite to listen to their people.

The screams against another septuagenarian ruling us are louder; yet the candidates in the two major political parties, APC and PDP, have refused to step aside and play a  more honourable role of elder statesmen.

The pleas to prevent another aloof Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic, who surrounds himself with Security Chiefs belonging overwhelmingly to one part of the country (his own part of the country to be precise) have also fallen on deaf ears.

The ruling party refuses to accept that it has done us a major wrong for the past eight years.

They confidently put forward a representation of another eight years of doom and uncertainty. The war is not against the presidential candidates of the APC or PDP for that matter.

The war is against the forces who would not let this country thrive: those who prefer to stash away billions in other people’s country like cavemen storing up grains for winter.

It is against those who shamelessly make the same set of recycled empty promises.

Those who are ready to divide Nigeria by going ahead with a same faith ticket as if the other half of Nigeria does not matter.

Those are the forces the true progressives and younger generation are wrestling against.

And on the 25th of February, every soldier of democracy shall all step on the battlefield.

Many people believe that of all the four major presidential candidates, Obi is the only one who has not gone against the agreement of ‘issue-based campaign’.

Tinubu classlessly, called out Obi at a rally referring to him as ‘import and export’ and, warehouse economist.

I quickly went to Google to confirm its meaning. Well what I got was that warehouse economics is a bias towards saving and storage of resources as opposed to reinvesting or trading with them. Quite an unwise job if you ask me.

In a nation where governors leave billions of debt and numerous unfinished projects for their successors, Obi is the only one on record who left money behind to keep the wheel of governance spinning.

Therefore, I would rather my president be a warehouse economist than a bullion van economist.

At least we can point to the warehouse and say he is stashing away money that the next governor can spend.

Whereas, the other is stashing money in bullion vans as a former Lagos State Governor is wont to do.

But the difference is that the warehouse belongs to the people and not the governor.

From the dire economic situation in which we find ourselves as a country, a warehouse economist is way more useful to us than a bullion van economist.

Consequently, the choice of president on Saturday, 25th February, 2023, between a warehouse economist and the bullion van economist is as clear as daylight. Nigerians must vote wisely!

*Akuboh is a graduate of Mass Communication, based in Abuja, FCT.

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