By Edward Musa
Should Peter Obi and the Labour Party worry at the apparent copycatting of his policies and programmes by the tremulous and doddering government of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and President Bola Ahmed Tinubu?
No, they should not, people who rely on others’ work as their sole source of inspiration won’t last in the long run, and worrying about them takes away from focusing on you. The worry really should be on the muddling up of these programmes because of the shallow understanding of what it entails, especially when such a person has issues with legitimacy, goodwill, and trust from the people.
During the last electioneering period in Nigeria from September 2022 to February 2023, the ruling party’s Presidential candidate, Bola Ahmad Tinubu blatantly shunned all media appearances, refusing to grant a single interview even to explain his manifesto.
Hardly did he take any message to Nigerians as a reason why he should be voted for. The only visible message he kept repeating to the irritation of Nigerians was that he will continue the good work of the immediate past President, Muhammedu Buhari.
Even when he appeared at the Chatham House in London, United Kingdom during the campaign, he had no response to questions and his sides had to come to his rescue answering questions on his behalf.
While Tinubu snubbed and spurned Nigerians disdainfully during the campaigns, Peter Obi seized the stage with his disarming messages, throwing up issues and pragmatically explaining its workings. In every sector of governance, Obi provided a verifiable way to address pertinent issues.
In the turbulent power sector, Obi told Nigerians in practical terms how he intended to solve the perennial problem. He explained how he went to Egypt to study the German firm Seamen that handled their power challenge making Egypt an exporter of power to other countries. During the Channels TV Presidential debate which Tinubu snubbed, Obi was there to declare that if South Africa with a population of less than 60 million is generating 58, 095 and yet declared an emergency on power, Nigeria with over 200m people and generating below 5000, should be declaring war on power if he is voted into office.
On subsidy in petroleum products, Obi was unmistaken in his position which dates back to his time as a member of the Presidential Economic Management Team under the Goodluck Jonathan era that he will remove subsidy because it’s an organized crime but will do it in a way that the poor will not suffer. He said he was going to carry the people along showing statistically and empirically what is being generated and how it’s being deployed. Obi even challenged the figure of fuel consumption in the country as unrealistic.
Obi was also brutal on what he would do if elected with the persisting crude oil theft as he exposed it as another organized crime of the people in government. Indeed, it was Obi’s exposition that led to the Nigeria Navy and other critical stakeholders coming out to state their roles in the fraud.
The Labour Party’s standard bearer was also forthright on Education describing Education and Health as a critical measure of a nation’s growth and development.
It was all these sector-by-sector explanations of his agenda for Nigeria if elected that endeared Obi to Nigerians across the country. During the campaigns, Obi virtually occupied the stage as a sole candidate with a defined mission while the ruling party flag bearer remained conspicuously missing in action, but possibly as it turned out planning the abracadabra of February 25, 2023, election that has become the darkest day in our democratic journey.
L-R: President Tinubu, Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi, the three frontrunners at the extremely convoluted February 25, 2023 presidential election in Nigeria
But since his swearing-in on May 29 amidst grumbling and groaning from all corners of our land and beyond, Tinubu said nothing and promised nothing, in fact in a big rally in Kano he just danced at the stage and left without telling the people anything. The only verifiable thing on record he promised Nigerians was to continue the good work of Buhari.
But today he appears to be in a hurry in an unprecedented copycatting of all the things Obi promised Nigeria for which they came out massively to vote for him.
In subsidy removal and the Education sector, Tinubu copiously copied Obi but like in every imitation, if it’s not Panadol, it cannot be Panadol. in his rush to diminish Obi and win over the Obidient adherents, he is not stopping at stealing the mandate but also the programmes. He is currently running the country virtually as a sole Administrator. Tinubu’s first meeting with Service Chiefs was to address the oil theft issue that Obi had unraveled.
Political watchers are looking at the rush by Tinubu to implement Obi’s programmes from various angles, one to try and impress on the people to gain the people’s confidence; preparing for an election in case the election tribunal nullifies the election and he is still lucky to be on the ballot if not disqualified; hurrying to distance himself from Buhari to win the people hence the suspension and arrest of the Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele who was Buhari’s man Friday.
The way and manner Tinubu is doing the copycatting clearly exposes him as lacking a sense of self, his actions picture him vividly as one green with envy of Obi as he strives desperately to want what Obi has to win his people.
But what is perhaps not privy to APC and Tinubu is that copycats are rarely successful in the long run. It may seem as if Tinubu is successfully stealing Obi’s gains and deploying them, but hardly will it last.
Should Obi and the Labour Party lose sleep at this calculated attempt to hijack their thoughts and even use it to undermine them? Yes, they should worry at the shameless imitation going on but must remain confident that the heart of his work cannot be duplicated and that is what Nigerians are yearning for. Obi’s unique hardworking self they saw and admired during the electioneering is what the people are waiting for not an imitation of him.
The truth is that no amount of mimicking or impersonating will erase the dirty spot in Tinubu and APC’s dented mandate. That a thief used his loot for charity does not remove the criminality of his action which is paramount. Let’s wait for God’s time which is the people’s time because a New Nigeria is POssible and Obi is coming. God help us.
…Edward Musa wrote from Abuja