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The Economist picks Peter Obi as Nigeria’s ‘hope of change’


With just seven days to the presidential election, the Economist has picked the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, as Nigeria’s beacon of hope after decades of leadership challenges.

In a new article titled: “Nigeria desperately needs a new kind of leadership,” published on February 16, the United Kingdom-based newspaper said the former Anambra State governor understands the country’s challenges better than his three rivals for the country’s highest political office.

However, the Economist said the LP candidate has not been able to properly articulate how he would tackle the challenges as the country’s president.

The newspaper also assessed the future of Nigeria under the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu or his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) rival, Atiku Abubakar.

It described Tinubu as an old-school politician who is unlikely to shake things up if elected as the country’s president at the end of the month.

For Atiku, the Economist said the former Vice President has grandiose plans for industrialisation and one million new police officers but lacks clear-cut ideas on how to pay them.

The article read: “Nigeria has been cursed with bad rulers. A military regime gave way to democracy in 1999, but since then elections have offered voters an ugly selection of the ancient, the incompetent and, most recently, a former military dictator.

“Parties have stoked ethnic divisions, intimidated their opponents and bought votes. Many candidates—federal, state and local—seek power to grab a share of the country’s oil wealth. Successive governments have been deeply corrupt. Turnout has steadily fallen. But as Nigerians go to the polls on February 25th, Peter Obi, a third-party presidential candidate, offers a measure of hope.

“Obi, a sprightly 61-year-old former state governor who is leading in the polls, offers an alternative. Most striking, he has urged people not to vote along ethnic or religious lines but to favour competence.

“Should they do so, it would mark a radical shift in Nigerian politics. He has also warned his supporters they should expect no money in return for their votes.

“Obi talks of supporting business, freer trade, and getting a grip on Nigeria’s mounting debts. He diagnoses the country’s failings more precisely than his rivals, though he is not much better at explaining how he would fix them. His promises to scrap the staggeringly wasteful petrol subsidy and rationalise the central bank’s many exchange rates are echoed by his opponents.

“Obi is not entirely a new broom. He was Abubakar’s vice-presidential running-mate in 2019 before switching parties. He has faced questions over undeclared offshore assets. Even if he wins, his Labour Party is very unlikely to gain a majority in the national assembly, so governing will be hard.

“But he is the only candidate to offer Nigerians much hope of change. In a country that has been badly and repeatedly failed by its leaders, he is easily the best choice.

“Africa’s most populous country is in desperate need of it (hope). The economy, the continent’s biggest, bursts with youthful potential — half the country is 18 years old or younger.

“A flourishing Nigeria would boost the whole of Africa. Instead, it is dragging it down.

“Nigerians are poorer now than they were in 2015, when the outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari, took over.

“At least 60m (and rising) survive on less than the equivalent of $2.15 per day. Buhari’s protectionist policies have made things worse.

“In addition, the country is beset by violence.”