Skip navigation

Peter Obi at Chatham House: A PSJ UK Review

PSJ UK joined Dr. Alex Vines and Mr. Peter Obi, the Nigerian presidential candidate of the Labour Party at his just concluded Chatham House event on the 16th of January 2023. As an independent organization focused on providing solutions to the insecurities and injustices plaguing the country, we paid keen attention to Mr. Obi’s policies on security, justice system and the anti-corruption agenda. It was significant to note that Mr. Obi acknowledged the devastating security situation in the first part of his speech which read- “We have alarming insecurity that has led to the loss of many lives and properties, significant decline in food and economic output, immense trauma that has compromised the mental health of communities, and in some cases, irredentist pressures and disaffection with the Nigerian project”. He rightly identified some of the offshoots of insecurity in Nigeria, however, he seemed to have missed one of the most critical byproducts of insecurity which is the internal displacement of people and property (IDP). Nigeria has a population of 2.7 million (Statistica, 2020) internally displaced citizens, falling shortly behind  Iraq and Afghanistan. We hope that his government does not trivialize the Internally displaced and will continue to work toward solutions to curb insecurity and return these Nigerians safely to their homes or what is left of them for them to rebuild. This review will not fail to mention that during the Q&A session, he mentions IDPs as a response- "As long as we have some Nigerians in IDP camps," he said, "we are all IDPs." With bandits, herdsmen, and terrorists still a fixture in the Nigerian state, the IDP camps' recruiting channels remain open. His speech captured succinctly the core reasons for security failure in Nigeria which read- “The growing insecurity in Nigeria is not because the enemy is formidable, it is rather because of lack of focused leadership, ineffective security governance structure and poor coordination from the centre” to this we add, the lack of accountability from those in whose hands the security apparatus has been entrusted. With the magnitude of the ravaging insecurity in Nigeria, the service chiefs whose performance has been below par, such as the former and current chiefs of Naval Staff, Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas CFR and Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo under whose leadership several expositions of oil theft has come to light should have been relieved of his duties and made to face trial. This should apply to other security heads. Mr. Obi spoke extensively on his commitment to fighting corruption which we hope he upholds across the board especially to those who he appoints to rebuild the country with him if elected. He further includes “pursuing a robust reform of the security governance structure with a strong coordinating mechanism that assures that all levels of government – federal, state, and local with 3-level policing structure as a part of his plans toward curbing insecurity”. This is a commendable expansion that has been practiced by several countries such as Canada which practices the three levels of police services: municipal, provincial, and federal. However, if the underlying issues of mode of recruitment, appropriate training, funding, re-orientation, discipline, citizen-security equipment like body cameras are not addressed, the decentralization would have been an effort in futility. We commend Mr. Obi’s commitment to a stronger justice system as a part of his speech which read- “I also plan here to speak on institutions and how the leadership we offer can facilitate the evolution of stronger institutions, with the rule of law a key anchor of Nation building in Nigeria”. His commitment to a stronger rule of law will bring justice to the killers of Deborah Samuel, current and former Boko Haram militants and various degrees of crime and indiscipline in Nigeria no matter how trivial. A stronger justice system will facilitate a safer society where the symbol of justice is blind to tribe, religion, social status and political affiliations. Insecurity in Nigeria is interwoven with unemployment, lack of proper education, religious and ethnic divides. A report submitted to the US department of justice lay claim on the interrelationship between unemployment, and underemployment especially among a certain age bracket, as strong breeding grounds for crime to the tune of 22%. CNBC report that 64% of unemployed men in their 30s have a criminal record. To this regard, Mr. Peter Obi solidifies his resolve in strengthening the economy through agriculture and industrialization, his commitment towards education through public-private partnerships, and his government’s obligation to provide employment opportunities, means of trade and relevant skills set to Nigerians. If elected we encourage Mr. Obi to stay strong on his commitment in these areas as a continued solution to insecurity. We commend and hold strong opinions of Mr. Obi’s speech at the Chatham house, however, we more than ever look forward to the actualization of these promises. The giddy reception of Peter Obi's Chatham House speech echoes the speech Major General Muhammadu Buhari gave here in February 2015. "Let me assure you," he promised, "that if I am elected president, the world will have no cause to worry about Nigeria as it has had to recently; that Nigeria will return to its stabilising role in West Africa; and that no inch of Nigerian territory will ever be lost to the enemy." Buhari promised to lead from the front in battling this insecurity and poverty in the land. Eight years on, Nigerian poverty figure which Buhari decried at 60 million has now risen to 130 million. While the menace of Boko Haram reduced, armed bandits and killer herdsmen became stronger under Buhari's watch and agitations in the southeast reached dangerous heights. Buhari did not win the war on terror nor on poverty nor on infrastructures nor on corruption nor on health nor on education. On democracy, Buhari claimed to be "a former military ruler and now converted democrat who is ready to operate under democratic norms." He didn't obey court orders and when contradicted by Twitter, he banned the site for more than eight months. Will Mr. Obi prove to be a doer of his words or is he a younger, more eloquent version of President Buhari? Only time shall tell. This review is not an endorsement as we maintain absolute neutrality in the election, we wish Mr. Peter Obi the best of luck as we promise to work with him in the identified areas, if elected, to build a strong, safe and reliable society for everyone.

Continue Reading

Read More

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.