By Wole Olujobi
It is not only the season of double-speak among the contestants in the Nigeria’s 2023 general elections, but also the time for talented liars to ply their trade to deceive Nigerians into schemes that have potential to land them in bigger problems after falling into the traps of political evangelists on false redemption missions during campaigns.
Janus, a Roman god with two faces and ubiquitous prominence at every feast, was notorious for double-speak that sinks into his listeners’ consciousness, not withstanding the risks that are later harvested by that act of indiscretion.
Like Janus, the field is already busy with the enterprise of double-speak and outright lies as Nigerians prepare to elect their national leaders in the general elections.
Indeed, as usual, it is the season of political marketing, and in some cases, the wares are lies; bare-faced lies, and this is where Obi appears to take the trophy.
Dubbed the soapbox champion of “beautiful lies” on account of dexterity in cooking reckless lies to impress Nigerians ahead of the general elections, Obi takes the cake in the deployment of subterfuge in the February presidential chase that requires honest assessment of the contestants for the hot seat.
But what Nigerians have seen in Obi so far is far from that description. Apart from allegedly sponsoring fraudulent opinion polls by discredited pollsters that defy logic to place him above far more popular and credible candidates, in Obi’s campaign, trust is the casualty in his political marketing to sway voters’ support.
Public trust is an asset in political engineering for public good, but when politics becomes a vehicle for personal advantage by misleading the public, then the meaning and purports of political leadership have been defeated in both form and content. That is what differentiates moralists from the sensualists among the ranks of political leadership and this is where Marcus Tullius Cicero, a Roman nobleman renowned for his power of oratory, trust and respected for the wisdom that lived in his grey hair, was an exemplar.
So far, in the assessments of Nigerians in their public comments, Obi has proved the very opposite of the accolades that Cicero attracted to his reputation, as the Labour Party’s candidate is now perceived as a leader who will govern, lead and live by lies as explained by John J. Mearsheimer, a top international chronicler of first class liars among world leaders, who said: “I find that leaders do not lie very often to other countries, but instead seem more inclined to lie to their own people.”
It is on this score that Obi’s claim to the people’s leadership should be assessed before the February 23 crunch presidential election, for the electoral process ought not to be a call to trust the leaders; it is all about seen leaders as trustworthy and a call for leaders to be more trustworthy, for the most important aspect of leadership is not always competence, communication or innovation; it is integrity, otherwise when things go bad, lack of trust in leadership often gets people killed.
For instance, the 36th American President Lyndon B. Johnson once lied to the Americans that led to the Vietnam War. He lied to Americans about attacks by Vietnam on U.S. destroyer warships, the same ships that later launched the Vietnam War. The problem was that those attacks never actually happened at all. As a result of the alleged attacks, the American Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, giving President Johnson the power to “take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further attacks.”
This resulted in a brutal war in which America lost fortunes and unnecessary wastes on both sides.
The leader of Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler, borrowed from that philosophy too when he said: “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed,” even if that will result in apocalypse. Such a leader is not only unfaithful to his oath of office, he is also dangerous to the society.
It is in this context that Mr Peter Obi should be put on the scale to assess him from the point of view of trustworthiness before Nigerians gamble with their lives for his leadership of the country.
It is evident that while Obi was governor of Anambra State, what drove his policy was narrow tribalistic consciousness, as he anchored his political strength and philosophy on serving the people on the primacy of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) driven only by Igbo people that had the wand to take care of the welfare needs of the entire Eastern region. For him, addressing the problems among Igbo people resided with APGA and nothing else.
His Igbo-centred consciousness, even though antithetical to the thesis of the much-needed national integration for development, drove his policies throughout the time he was governor, resulting in the expulsion of the non-Igbo people out of Anambra State in 2006. What mattered most to Obi at the time were APGA and Igbo.
In 2013, Obi was quoted in the media as saying: “I will not only remain in APGA, I will also die for APGA.
“The day I quit APGA is the day I will quit politics.
“APGA made me what I am today. APGA is like a movement.
“I have enough funds to last me outside politics.
“The day I leave APGA, which I have made up my mind never to leave, I will quit politics.
“Igbos don’t need APGA in Aso Rock for them to achieve their aims. (No wonder he swears his resolve to identify with IPOB and its agenda to allegedly divide Nigeria).
“APGA is the identity and the reflection of Igboman .
“Anambarians should not vote for PDP. PDP is a party alien to the Igbo.
“PDP is synonymous with destruction.”
Four issues are germane for special attention and assessment here, namely Obi’s rabid pro-Igbo consciousness that places only Igbo people at the centre of his development plan at the time that Nigerian leaders are striving for a united Nigeria where all Nigerians will be equally served. No wonder, Obi sacked non-Igbo traders from Anambra State during the Onitsha crisis in 2006 when over 100 Northerners were killed and markets belonging to them were burnt down.
Two, he said he would never leave APGA. Didn’t Obi eventually leave APGA to join PDP that he had earlier dismissed as synonymous with destruction? Three, did Obi die after he left APGA to join PDP? And four, has he quit politics after leaving APGA or can he still legitimately claim that APGA is still the identity of the Igbo after APC and PDP dislodged APGA from the South East?
Obi upped the ante of his lies when he mounted a world stage at Chatham House in London recently to deceive Nigerians and the entire world on Nigeria’s development index, one of the main campaign issues for which presidential candidates are assessed, to measure the quality of their abilities to serve the nation.
Instead of Obi eating his humble pie to confess that he had no clue to the nation’s history and her development index, hence not capable of governing Nigeria, he lied to Nigerians and the world at large to feign competence.
According to the report on Obi’s Chatham House engagement with the world by foremost Nigeria’s online publication, Premium Times, the Labour Party presidential candidate claimed that apart from Venezuela, Nigeria is the only OPEC nation that has not met its oil production quota.
But verification from the latest data obtained from the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) showed that Obi lied to the world and Nigerians, for from September to December 2022, none of the OPEC member countries met its production quota. The OPEC member countries are Algeria, Angola, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Venezuela.
Obi also claimed that Nigeria had about 60 per cent of youth unemployment, whereas the latest data on the NBS dashboard shows that Nigeria has 42.5 per cent youth unemployment.
He also claimed that there are 20 million out-of-school children in Northern Nigeria, whereas the total number of out-of-school children in the entire Nigeria is estimated at 20 million, according to the latest global data on out-of-school children published in September 2022 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
The LP candidate also claimed that Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita in 2015 was $2,550, eventhough the review of World Bank’s data shows that Nigeria’s GDP per capita in 2015 stood at $2,679, contradicting Obi’s claim.
He also told the world audience that Nigeria’s total health budget was below N2.5 trillion from 2015 – 2021, whereas a review of Nigeria’s health budget from 2015 – 2021 shows that the Federal Government allocated N2.50 trillion to the health sector.
According to Premium Times, Obi also added: “As of 2015, Nigeria’s total debt stock is about N15 trillion. But today (January 2023), with CBN ways and means, we owe over N75 trillion.”
But in reality, Nigeria’s public debt in December 2015 stood at N12.6 trillion, according to official data from Nigeria’s Debt Management Office.
“By September 2022, the Nigerian government’s domestic and foreign debts rose to N44 trillion. On the other hand, the CBN’s loans to the Federal Government stood at N23.8 trillion cumulatively. Therefore, Nigeria’s total debt combined with CBN’s loans is N67.8 trillion, not over N75 trillion, as claimed by Obi,”Premium Times reported.
Here we are with a Presidential candidate that relies on lies to promote his development agenda, to deceive Nigerians to earn their votes. If a leader is lying while seeking the votes of Nigerians to govern the country, what will he do after getting the power that often removes leaders from their people and the realities of their existence?
Also recently, at one of his campaign stops while canvassing for votes, Obi was quoted as saying: “I signed at least 5,000 certificates of occupation while in office as Governor. If you find one piece of land allocated to me, directly or indirectly, I will stop campaigning for President.”
Two days after he made that claim, social media was awash with a photocopy of land allocation approval in favour of Obi by the Anambra State Housing Development Corporation and the approval to the beneficiary was addressed to him as the Executive Governor of Anambra State. Several days after that revelation, has he denied it or stopped campaigning for President?
Now, where do we place Obi on the scale of credibility, trust and integrity at the time Nigerians need a honest leadership to chart a transparent course in tackling myriads of crises bedeviling the nation as Nigerians struggle to overcome the hardships imposed on them by long years of irresponsible leadership that took Nigerians for granted through deceits in the ways they have been governed?
How long will Nigeria continue to recycle liars as government leaders at the time honesty, trust, integrity and credibility in leadership are what is required to weather the storms of the present disillusionment imposed by dishonest leadership?
Up till now, Obi has not explained to Anambra people his alleged impropriety in his alleged involvement in alleged criminal conspiracy in the famed Pandora Files where secret assets allegedly cornered in Nigeria are allegedly held overseas in his and family’s favour.
Will this Peter not lie to or deny Nigerians three times before second cockcrow at dawn? It is a moral question that Nigerians must answer with their thumbs on February 25, 2023.
Peter Obi practises Christianity as a religion. The same religion in Psalm 101, verse seven, says: “No one who practises deceit shall dwell in my house,” while Psalm 120 verse two says: “Deliver me, O Lord, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue.”
A famous Hadith in Islam states: “Telling of truth is a virtue and virtue leads to Paradise and the servant who endeavours to tell the truth is recorded as truthful, and lie is obscenity and obscenity leads to Hell-Fire, and the servant who endeavours to tell a lie is recorded as a liar.”
Generally speaking, a leader who lies is dangerous to the lives of his followers. He leads to nowhere but destruction and waste. This is a lesson and warning to Nigerians as they vote to elect their President on February 23, 2023.
.Olujobi is the Deputy Director of Media and Publicity,
Ekiti State APC Presidential Election Committee