Writer and academic, Prof. Okey Ndibe has described the Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, as an intellectually vibrant and physically fit candidate who has some grave faults that will impugn on his leadership capacity if not addressed.
He made the remarks while responding to questions during the online interview programme 90MinutesAfrica hosted by Rudolf Okonkwo and Chido Onumah on Sunday, July 24. The literary icon asserted that the Labour Party candidate is the most exciting among the three major contenders.
“Obi has excited a lot of Nigerians, especially young Nigerians. The reason for that is understandable. Nigerians have not had in a long time a political aspirant who appears to think about the problems in the country, spell out those problems and articulate ways of addressing those problems,” Prof. Ndibe said. “So, Obi comes with figures and Nigerians see that as a breath of fresh air. We always needed that. When Obi talks about all the issues, it excites Nigerians. And Obi comes across as a youthful, physically fit person. So, there is this combination of a certain sense of intellectual vibrancy and physical fitness which should be a welcome departure from what we have Nigeria.”
The renowned author elaborated on some shortcomings he believes may hamper Peter Obi’s leadership capacity and offered some suggestions on how they can be mitigated.
“Obi has a certain cult of personality,” Prof. Ndibe noted. “He is extremely self-referential. And that is not a good thing in a leader. A leader should be able to identify men and women who have gifts that he is then going to delegate challenges to. When a leader presumes to know everything, that is a weakness.
“Obi also tends to over-promise. Nigeria’s problems are so deep and so fundamental and vast. So, when you give the impression that if you are made president, you will solve everything, then I will say pause for a minute. You cannot solve everything. Nigeria does not have the money and I don’t think that the international community has the stomach to lend us the money. Maybe, if he becomes president, he will take the first one year trying to stop the bleeding.
“Another problem I have with Obi is what I call the self-inflicted hypocritical wound. When people don’t ask you certain things, don’t go stating things which may turn out on scrutiny not to be true. Famously, a few years ago Obi claimed that he owned only one wristwatch. Nigerians went out there and found pictures of him wearing several wristwatches. He was a wealthy businessman before he became governor so it would be fine and expected if he owned several wristwatches. When you come out and want to create an impression of being ascetic and tell a fab, then people will begin to wonder if you are lying to us about owning only one wristwatch what else are you lying to us about?
“I will say to him not to hug the microphone so much; not to be there speaking so much; to create a network of people who will work for him and to begin to appoint advisers in different areas. He should not be the one doing everything. Or else he would over promise, get into falsehood and unnecessary unforced errors.”
Prof. Ndibe however believes that despite Obi’s flaws he has the potential to spring a surprise in the election if he can make necessary adjustments in his communication strategy.
“I think that clearly, of the three major candidates, Obi is the most exciting. We see that excitement on the internet. So, maybe Obi is going to spring a surprise. But in other to do that he has to defeat not only the monster of his flaws and also the monster of ethnicity and religion.”