And now to the darling of Nigerian cyberspace: Peter Gregory Obi. It bears repeating that the subject of this article is in the back cover of its first edition: “Three Hunchbacks and Their Heavy Baggage” (June 25, 2022). Keynote: “…Now, if the hunchbacks are loaded with extra bags and all that they have to carry from one point to another, the excruciating exercise can hardly be imagined, because you cannot imagine what it is to fit in. Such is the fate of the top three presidential standard bearers with arguably the most vocal support this current election season… We hope to spend some quality time reviewing the enormous “baggage – the code-switching for unsavory glitches and mishaps in their pedigrees that they’d rather wipe out when stationary; but it’s an unwavering reminder of their frailties, possible stumbling blocks and Herculean obstacles – their spin-docs must roll up their sleeves to attack head-on. And their detractors would happily smack their lips to sink their teeth into them.
Since May 24, 2022 when Obi resigned from the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, his stock has grown exponentially such that his candidacy has attracted unparalleled enthusiasm and bravery from many young Nigerians; the hitherto ostracized and disgruntled adults whose hope for some sort of national redemption had been severely damaged and similar discontents and “siddon-look” contemporaries.
Despite Obi’s seemingly ‘un-Nigerian’ pedigree and proclamations, public civility and business acumen, there are growing fears that he is swimming against the tide and has become fodder for the lip-smacking naysayers and their supporters to hit the rustic farmlands. .
Unlike his co-competitors with clouds of bribery, bribery and other “serious crimes” attached to their flowing garments, Obi’s critics would have to dig deep into filthy archives to find a stain to paint. on him. But surely, if not critically, there is something to be found. He was implicated in the infamous 2021 “Panama Papers” leaks, globally exposing wealthy individuals hiding funds in safe havens and tax-free islands. The allegation: “Mr. Obi is one of the people whose hidden business activities were (sic) exposed by the project. Indeed, he has a number of secret business transactions and relationships that he has kept secret for years. These are businesses that he clandestinely set up and operated overseas, including in notorious tax and secret havens, in a manner that violated Nigerian laws…
“The former governor admitted that he failed to disclose these companies and the funds and properties they hold in his asset filings with the Code of Conduct Office…
“He said he was unaware that the law required him to declare any assets or companies he owned jointly with his family members or anyone else…
“However, our investigation, based on records obtained from UK Companies House, shows that Mr Obi continued to be a director of Next International (UK) Limited for 14 months after becoming Governor of Anambra State, thereby breaking Nigerian law. The politician resigned from the company on May 16, 2008, 14 months after taking office as Governor of Anambra. He took office on March 17, 2006…”
Another Achilles tendon of the former governor of Anambra was the accusation that he is easily ready to cover up and lie: in other words, he can’t stop lying! On December 16, 2018, an investigative report on the Nigerian website of the International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), fact-checked 13 “facts and statistics” produced by candidate Obi during the vice presidential debate. presidency ahead of the 2019 election, and the platform said eleven were “false, grossly exaggerated or partially true”.
Let’s go over a few:
“Claim: Nigeria’s poverty rate is rising 6% per minute
Not only is this claim outrageous on its face, but it is also not true…Highlights from the clock data, Brookings noted in June, shows that “extreme poverty in Nigeria is increasing by six people every minute”. It is possible that this is how the DPP vice-presidential candidate intended to phrase his statement.
Verdict: The statement is false.
“Claim: In 2015, we attracted $21 billion in FDI, and only $12 last year…
Verdict: The (claim is) false. The FDI figures were grossly exaggerated.
“Allegation: Nigeria has only 2 million vehicles, 10 per 1000.
The estimated vehicle population in Nigeria in the second quarter of 2018 is 11,760,871, and the vehicle per capita ratio has been put at 0.06 (compared to 0.01 for Obi)…
Verdict: The claim is false and grossly exaggerated.
“Allegation: The electricity generation in Indonesia is 50,000 for 250 million people… Verdict: The (claim is) inaccurate and outdated.
“Complaint: Buhari on March 26, 2015…said he should be expelled if he does not deliver.
There is no record of Buhari delivering any speech reported that day.
Verdict: The allegation is false and could not be substantiated…”.
Obi has been accused of becoming progressively more prolific and less accurate, over the years – a predilection barely diagnosed by ThisDay columnist Simon Kolawole in his June 26, 2022 column, while also pointing out his other weighty baggage: “ Obi himself, it has to be said, also has trouble with his stats and claims and has become a nightmare for fact checkers, but I still assume that’s mainly due to a memory lapse of his part rather than a genuine attempt to mislead or misinform.
On Obi’s other debilitating baggage, Kolawole writes, “His strength becomes his weakness: the fan base. His membership has clearly caught fire and is spreading not only on social media but also on the streets in many parts of the country. But some of his overzealous followers are so unruly that it proves to be a baggage for him. This puts off a lot of people. It’s a bit of a bittersweet phenomenon: he’s gaining more supporters in part because of the aggressiveness of his die-hard fans, but that aggressiveness is now going too far and becoming nauseating even to some of his admirers.
“First, some of them use religion to promote it. They propose that the structure of the Catholic Church in Nigeria, to which he belongs, be used as his political apparatus. This is meant to be a response to concerns that Obi needs a structure to reach the grassroots so he can win the presidential election. There is also the implication that he is the only Christian among the best candidates and that Christians should rally behind him. It’s completely silly… In a multicultural society like ours, we have to be careful with this kind of campaign…”.
With just a few clicks, you can meet the ogres that Obi’s enemies would like you to see: efforts to recruit him as an Igbo candidate; a rhetoric that isolates him as tolerant, if not fearful, of the secessionist group based in the Southeast, the IPOB; insinuations that suggest indiscretions and abuse of power in the financial deployment of state funds as governor of Anambra between 2006 and 2014; Anambra’s N250m ‘wakapass’ reportedly strolled past its office in Apapa, Lagos (Next) in 2009; the admittedly self-incriminating pamphlets that paint him as miserly with a thirst for unprofitable parsimony…a trait his followers display as industrious frugality, in a nation that ruthlessly celebrates squalor and impunity.
Of course, the internet is also littered with memes and memories of Obi’s various alleged lies and “misyarns”, fueled by his fondness for backing up his bittersweet tales with condiments of facts and statistics from around the world – especially the Asian variety. . Certainly, Obi and his followers who dream of upsetting the status quo are ready for the toughest fight of their lives.