Monday, June 5

Peter Obi: Applying to be driver of a motionless car with a knocked-out engine

By Farooq Kperogi

I first took notice of former Anambra State governor Peter Obi when one of his videos trended on social media earlier this year. 

In the video, he described Nigeria as a motionless car with a knocked-out engine. Instead of fitting the immobile car with a new engine, he said, we keep changing the drivers in a forlorn effort to get the car to move.

I thought it was the profoundest metaphor anyone has ever conjured up to explain Nigeria’s problems. 

It’s interesting that Obi is now putting himself up as another prospective driver to move a motionless car with a knocked-out engine. Perhaps, he wants to be the driver who’ll tell us that we need to change the engine.

Professor Pat Utomi also told me sometime ago that during a public lecture, Obi was inspired by and cited the widely shared column I wrote on the nexus between political power and brain damage but that Obi wrongly attributed the column to Utomi, as several people have done.

 Utomi said he corrected Obi that I was the author of the article titled “How Political Power Damages the Brain—and How to Reverse it,” which was first published in the Nigerian Tribune of July 27, 2019.

That the column inspired Obi, for me, signals that he recognizes the dangers of unchecked political power and sees merit in the article’s suggestion that wielders of enormous political power ensconced in the alternate reality it inspires should periodically get out of the bubbles of power to feel the pulse of everyday people and have “toe-holders” in their inner circle who “can tell them uncomfortable truths without fear of consequences.”

This is not, by any means, an endorsement of Obi’s presidential bid. It’s simply an acknowledgement that Nigeria has a virile option in him.

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