Chimamanda Adichie On Peter Obi

Chimamanda Adichie On Peter Obi

1 month ago
3 mins read
When Prof. Wole Soyinka emitted that caustic lava on Mr. Peter Obi, a lot of people sprang up against him. I told a story where we wanted to set a deadly trap for Prof. Soyinka, and it was Peter Obi himself who lectured us on the virtues of respect for elders as a reason not to accept his invitation to cross swords with him. During his interview on Arise, Obi demonstrated what he meant when questions were asked of him about the Nobel Laureate’s caustic outbursts.
When the controversy was raging, I asked a question: Where is Chimamanda? I went on to write: “Our literary queen is also very intelligent—not just creatively intelligent, but also insightful. She is filling the gap Prof. Chinua Achebe left. I have long predicted that she would one day win the Nobel Prize. When unnecessary controversy arose, her balanced voice went a long way. I think she spoke to the BBC. We are eager to hear from her now.”
I understood enough of Newton’s Laws of Motion to know that even literary engagements obey that law. A Soyinka in motion would have needed an equal or greater force to stop. In terms of logic for logic, we have the likes of Prof. Okey Ikechukwu and Dele Farotimi who match him. However, tackling a Soyinka requires more than that. This is where we miss Prof. Chinua Achebe. However, we have his children who can give a good account of themselves by providing equal, if not greater, force. This was why I asked that question: where is Chimamanda?
Thank God she has finally answered me in prose both fluid and sensible. Read her! The summary of her submission is that contrary to Soyinka’s insistence that Obi is not fit to become the president of Nigeria, Obi is actually the man any nation should crave for as its president. In fact, we need him in a crisis situation, which Nigeria has become under “Agbado.”


Chimamanda Speaks:
“Peter Obi is comfortable in his skin. His air is of a person who is who he has always been, genial and genuine, transparent and level-headed, effortlessly himself.
He has that rare quality of supreme self-confidence unmarred by a fragile ego; he takes criticism in stride, has no use for pompousness, and can laugh at himself. He is uncommonly principled, especially so for a Nigerian politician, and while he never shies away from highlighting this, his sense of humour saves him from falling into the dingy pit of self-righteousness.
When his humour isn’t self-deprecating, it is sometimes sly, sometimes cutting, and almost always edifying. You find yourself laughing, but the laughter is a pathway to revelation. It makes you think or rethink ideas and puts your mind to work.
His ease with data and numbers inspires confidence and suggests an intellectual curiosity, a keenness to learn; a man who does his homework because he wants to and not because he has to.
It is obvious how intimately he knows—and loves—Nigeria, how pained he is by the tarnish and the rot. He is too clear-eyed to be sentimental and too realistic to be ideological, and it is easy to imagine him creating an eclectic toolbox of political solutions. His worldview is shaped by the shrewdness of a self-made businessman, the steadfastness of a striver, and the soul of a dreamer.
Here is a wealthy man who is both quiet and unapologetic about his (clean and legitimate) wealth, who is contemptuous of the excesses of the privileged class, and who is completely at ease with ordinary people. This perhaps is why he is so effective at bridging the divisions of class and culture: his folksy wisdom is easily digestible and accessible to every kind of Nigerian.
His vision is aspirational but in a practical, achievable way. To hear him speak of expanding agriculture in the North, or of reducing corruption by starting at the top, is to re-imagine Nigeria in bold familiar fonts, a much better country yet recognizable still.
Above all else, he comes across as wonderfully human. He shows compassion without being false, and he speaks of the poor not as props but as people. He knows how much is garri and fuel and bread cost today, and he knows what they cost last year, and he knows how unacceptable the difference is.
In the midst of such stark hardship in the country, it is heartening to see in Peter Obi a sign of inspirational leadership—the ability to leave people with a sense of attainable hope.

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