BusinessDay

Wasn’t Okowa lending Peter Obi a hand?

WAS Governor Ifeanyi Okowa offering a helping hand to his brother Peter Obi when he said Obi had “limited experience” for the presidency? It is not easy to tell but the vicious responses to that remark show the unwilling of Obi’s supporters, even minders, to sift advice from remarks that do not wear garbs they find pleasing.

Praises for Obi have been based on work he did in Anambra State. Great job, no doubt. For the records his stewardship as Governor ended in March 2014, nine years ago by the 2023 elections.

Were Obi applying for a job would an experience of nine years ago be regarded as “relevant experience”? Think about that for a moment.

Known for his attention to details, Obi would not hire someone with stale experience. Okowa hinted at that. Should that question not be asked?

Okowa also explained it. The times have changed. The spin on the economy makes many of yesterday’s solutions dated. The country has become more complicated.

Conversations that drove straight to consensus have long departed as part of the quest of the All Progressives Congress for power. At the time it gained ascendancy in 2014, Obi was already out of office.

We used to have a Governors’ Forum for the entire country. Today, any party that has more than one Governor has the party’s Governors’ Forum. The divisiveness hampers discussions on improving the country. This is just one example of the changing Nigeria.

The economic situation of Nigeria makes proposed solutions plainly tentative. Would anyone deny that? Obi would not.

Okowa’s thesis – anti-thesis to some – was that the experience on which some of the things Obi puts forward is based is at most tenuous. It is not for these times or would require updating to redeem it of defects of the passage of time.

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There is a context to Obi’s achievements. It was at a time of different settings, politically, economically. Such context is important for proper interrogation of what Obi is offering. The same applies to proposals from anyone on how to rescue Nigeria from a wreck that most times finds inadequate expression in words.

Obi’s experience is limited by time, space, and scope. If he accepted it, he would have latched on the opportunity offered him to tell Nigerians why his proposals are still tenable. Or why his 2014 experience remains the baseline for his proposed rescue mission of Nigeria.

What his supporters have done by descending on Okowa is to lose the chance to leverage the Okowa interview to make hay no matter the weather. They give an impression of an infallible Obi, an Obi that cannot be asked questions. What is their objective?

Anyone interested in a different campaign from the 2015 election that dumped Nigerians in despair must show tolerance when the capacities of candidates are questioned. If not, we would be stuck in 2015 while heading to 2023.

Okowa’s friendly fire has sprouted reactions from different quarters, all attacks on the Delta State Governor who granted an interview to BBC Pidgin. He explained himself enough for a more discerning assessment of his position.

Maybe, one should look at Okowa again for a better understanding of what experience means, at least his version of it. There are few like Okowa in terms of knowing segments of Nigeria in 24 years. None, if any, is on the ballot for 2023.

When he spoke it was from the depths of what he has seen at all levels of governance. He was pointing Obi to another direction in his narratives.

There must be things that Obi has done since leaving office that should be relevant to the office that he aspires. His stories cannot be so distant that they struggle for a place in current conversations.

Some experts rate experience an encumbrance to innovative engagements. They have their reasons. The present debates span to the expanses of managing different sides of government. What is Obi’s involvement in them?

Okowa spoke from his experiences in government that traverses local government administration as Secretary and Chairman, a Commissioner in Delta State, Secretary to the State Government, Senator, before his election as Governor of Delta State. He parades these pedigrees which he can point at as his preparations for higher office. Do they count? Would they make him a better Vice President?

We should ask him. He should answer the questions. Expectations are that other contestants would be available for these sessions that test their ideas to harvest the best ideas for restoration of Nigeria.

Finally…

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari gets better by the day. He can explain donation of vehicles to Niger Republic at our time of harsh economic bites. For someone who is often “not aware”, how did he know Niger Republic needed them?

ASUU strike has gone through six months, half a year. The blame sharing is obviously more important than getting the universities to reopen.

Isiguzo is a major commentator on minor issues

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