By: Andy Akporugo Jr
A DEBATE OF UNFLATTERING REALITIES AND PROBABILITIES
Live matches do not pretend to majorly seek dispassionate reception. They are broadcast essentially out of a desire to satisfy known partisan palates and almost always as with the broadcast of the Vice Presidential Debate, get the judgements they desire, truly or pretentiously, based on the limitations of preconceived prejudices or choices. Yet there is a chance soon after, for a more circumspective view upon a ‘re-view’ after the cheering parties have departed, except of course if one, bearing cymbals and shekere, actually makes the cheer in the party.
If anyone fairly undertakes this review, perhaps there are at least three matters they would be concerned about.
- The quality of the leadership the other parties, leaving out the PDP for now, seek to offer us.
Except they protest the usage of their performances at the debate as indicators, the candidates for Vice President do not seem like people with knowledge enough to run a roadside coal-bakery, let alone lead any informed efforts at revamping our economy. If they were not honouring knowledge by its absence, they were struggling with their infectious nerves so much as to likely out-fret participants in a primary school debate.
But perhaps more importantly, the choice of the candidates for Vice President, suggested a hurried, unserious selection process that placed scant value on the size of the job in the same manner that it did for the competences required for its execution. Would their choices for Vice President qualify as their deputies in their previous work places where effective systems unaffected by them have been developed for making such appointments?
Well at the end, the choices spoke very badly about the appointors themselves more than it did for the appointees, whose choices ironically seemed to victimize them either for the benefit of purely ethnic statistical considerations or worse, as elements of contrast so as to project the appointors own capacities as stars of the pack in the same way that an ugly girl, [forgive my discourtesy] burnishes her better endowed friend by sheer accompaniment.
- The implicit offer of the PDP at the 2019 Presidential elections by the truly impressive performance of Mr Peter Obi, if we discount for the moment his strange effort at importing such diction as made him sound like a badly tutored ventriloquist.
On the economy for example, where many tout Mr Obi as rich in pedigree wrought out of years of trading big from well-appointed shops, through his stints in a couple of banks, to owning a brewery and some fine real estate, for which capacities he had enjoyed apprenticeship from ‘‘his master’’ and then at several executive Ivy league courses, he, and by him, his party the PDP offered us cold statistics, an earful, most of which by far, were false.
Since then, those who have gloated his so-called victory at the debate have said that despite the false statistics, he thoroughly understood the problems of the Nigerian economy and was eminently positioned to solve them, an assessment that should thoroughly confound logic for the implication that it claims that false statistics proves knowledge and accurately identifies the problems. If that were so, what becomes the function of the correct statistic? Thus rather than being enthused by Mr Obi’s presentation of “facts and figures”, we ought to be worried that his figures do not present the facts, let alone understand them. And yet, it is true, isn’t it that unless one understands the question, they are bound to provide the wrong answers despite their best efforts.
But more importantly, if Mr. Obi’s false figures create alternative and not real facts, doesn’t it ask the question: has the PDP as a party or any committee thereof, in fact, committed any real effort into ascertaining the factual state of the economy, beyond the fact of moaning the loss of such privilege that gifted them spare keys to our collective patrimony for their self-gratification a while ago? If they had done some real group work on investigating and articulating the facts, would we be left to the rusty, residuary knowledge or worse, the poetic licence of Mr Obi’s creative genius to simply manufacture such statistics as he felt suited the outcomes of the debate as he desired? What exactly was the Dubai trip about? Was it just one for binging and ‘‘moonlighting’’, with allowance for a once a week photo op, for the benefit of cheering atikulators back home?
There are those who would accuse me of over reacting to mere statistical errors, and perhaps they are right. But when we consider that Mr Obi also does not provide any solutions capable of being interrogated, along with the fact that as Dr Chukwuma Soludo had drawn our attention, he had only recently as governor, on the back of statistics perhaps of similar manufacture, ‘mis-invested’ almost all state revenue constructing roads of scarce vehicles or business interest to connect villages of no real economic value, such that his testimonial, despite this huge investment in infrastructure was an increase in poverty in Anambra State from 20% in 2004 to 68% in 2010, i.e. some 238% deterioration by the records of the National Bureau of Statistics, shouldn’t we be afraid of a repetition of such development that leaves us poorer, on a national scale?
But it is his response to the fight against corruption that must make us more afraid. His position, as surely that of his party, is that fighting corruption is not an economic policy, but he was not careful enough in the same breath, not to suggest promotion of corruption as economic policy, when he excused the government from the obligation to fight corruption by the twisted allegory that you do not close down your shop to chase thieves. What is the value of an open shop if the shop keeper is not in it because he chases thieves? Or does Mr Obi suggest in this two character story, that the shop keeper remains in the shop tending his remaining wares while the thieves go unpursued, unapprehended and unpunished? It is important at this point to note that both Mr Obi and Prof Osinbajo were agreed that while the government in this story is the shop keeper, the fleeing thieves are actually PDP members who had held office previously. What economic policy, should we expect then if the erstwhile fleeing thieves in the story, emerge also as shopkeeper?
- The quite uninspiring position of Prof Osinbajo that if they won the 2019 election they would simply continue to do what they have been doing. He said this repeatedly without demonstrating why their actions today have not reduced suffering in the land and how a continuation will inevitably lead to an improvement of the people’s fortune. He thus ended up as unhelpful as the man with a bag of lying statistics.
To mouth the building of rails, roads and similar infrastructure without demonstrating the direct positive impact of that on the people truly says nothing better than a Peter Obi network of roads to nowhere while the people stayed poor offers.
At all times investment in the people’s development and capacity to create and enjoy wealth should take priority over cold concrete infrastructure. I recall to make this point, the monumental misadventure in Cross Rivers state when a starry-eyed Donald Duke invested all state funds in a humongous infrastructure called the Tinapa, as priority over policies that would eradicate poverty in the state at the earliest possible time. His projection we understood, was that Tinapa would earn the state such revenue that would in turn cause an improvement the state’s economy and quality of life for its ‘citizens’. However by the consequence of existing crushing poverty and incompetences which they suffered, the people of the state could not be the immediate patrons of the facility, neither did they have the capacity that would enable them benefit from it. And thus having been excluded by reason of their lack, they began to regards it with disdain.
Tinapa sits there today as victim of surrounding poverty as it is a testament of how great infrastructure can come too early to be useful.
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