On the VPs Debate: my take ~by Princewill Odidi

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16 December 2018

1. I spent the later part of my day watching the VP debate from YouTube. I was very impressed to say the least. Peter Obi did very well in terms of theory of how things should be, but Osinbajo also did very well on how things are and what is presently being done.

2. For Peter Obi, it is one thing to admire the financing of SMEs in China and the West, those societies have the structure that makes financing easy.

3. I would have expected him to tell us what his government would do to address the challenge. We all know that the problem definitely is not money neither is it the political will when it comes to SMEs financing, the problem is financing can only work if loans given out can be repaid so others can also receive.

4. In Nigeria we really do not have the kind of system China and Western countries have in terms of unsecured loans repayment, in Nigeria the bulk of unsecured loans will be diverted and never repaid. Peter Obi should tell us how his government plans to put in place a structure that will give confidence and a form of guarantee that SMEs would pay back loans instead of comparing Nigeria with countries where things are working.

5. However, I give a lot of credit to Peter Obi for his ability to understand Economic and national issues. The bulk of Nigerian elites including Senators, Governors and Presidential aspirants have little or no idea on those issues Obi raised. He raised issues that most Development experts have raised in the past, but the big question is, where do we start?

6. Don’t get me wrong, we know exactly where to start, but politics will never allow that to happen. I love Peter Obi, he is one of the best governors Nigeria has ever had, but much of what he said sounds so sweet in the ears, makes governance as easy as abc, quick to blame others for getting it wrong, but to be truthful my dear friends, uneasy lies the head that wears the crown, if you think that the present government does not know everything Obi is talking you are greatly mistaken.

7. Analyzing these beautiful policies Obi talked about sounds so easy, but believe me, the reality is something else. The structure of the Nigerian State makes a hitch free implementation practically impossible. That’s the truth they will not tell you.

8. Opposition politics should spend time proffering alternative policies rather than mere criticism. One of the female candidates called subsidy regime a scam, I was ashamed she shared the same podium with Osinbajo, She exposed her cluelessness to the workings of government.

9. I was also impressed with VP Osinbajo, he is very patient and practical. The truth is government spending  a trillion Naira in subsidy is really high, given the level of poverty in Nigeria, but the truth Obi did not tell you is that if subsidy is removed the poverty and economic hardship will be double what we have today.

10. Subsidy removal can only work if there are alternatives to the benefits brought about by the subsidy regime, like a good railway system or a good bus transportation system, but our road network and current infrastructure will not allow a subsidy removal to work, it will cripple the economy and an organized labor union will cripple government, that’s the other part Peter Obi did not tell you.

11. But again, Obi was very impressive and articulate. Finally, Obi read Philosophy but has spent his entire career in banking and finance so he understands the language and he is conversant with the latest development arguments. Osinbajo read law, his understanding of economic Development is based on practical policy formulation and not theorizing as Obi did.

12. Both candidates from APC and PDP did very well, no winner no vanquished. Let us give democracy a chance. Some say Peter Obi floored Osinbajo, that’s not true, the difference is theory versus practice. There’s nothing Obi said that is new, the problem is the very nature of the Nigerian state system.

Odidi is a public commentator writing from Atlanta. Princewillodidi@hotmail.com