Election season in Nigeria isn’t only about who can hold the biggest rallies or make the most eye-catching promises, it’s also about who can throw the biggest insults. 

That’s why it’s not a surprise that the camps of the presidential candidates of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, and All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, have been at each other’s throats lately.

How did the argument start?

Tinubu struck the first blow during a rally in Delta State on November 25, 2022 when he accused an unnamed candidate of always giving the wrong statistics. He also stated that mentioning the person’s name would be a disgrace to him. 

Even though he didn’t mention anyone’s name, anyone following the campaigns closely would know which presidential candidate loves dishing out statistics:

It’s… Peter Obi [Leadership News]

The chief spokesperson of the LP’s Presidential Campaign Council, Dr Yunusa Tanko, then cut Tinubu down to size by saying he’s “someone who cannot even identify his own mother”. He also challenged Tinubu to show up for an open debate with Obi. He was confident the former Anambra State governor would win and humiliate Tinubu.

It didn’t take long before the APC flung its own dirt when Tinubu’s campaign spokesperson, Festus Keyamo, told Obi not to expect his candidate to debate with him based on “ideas in his head”.

According to Keyamo, there are some key documents Obi should reveal to Nigerians if he ever wants an intellectual faceoff with the BAT:

  • A release of Obi’s manifesto for scrutiny.
  • A comparison of his achievements as Anambra State governor versus Tinubu’s achievements as the governor of Lagos State.
  • A list of current associates he mentored in politics as the governor of Anambra.
  • Names of any political party Obi has helped to form or partner with which he still belongs to today.

While it’s obvious Keyamo used some of his points as a cheat code for Tinubu  — given his track record of infrastucture in Lagos and godfatherism — his point on Obi’s manifesto is indeed one that has caused some concern for voters as he’s yet to release his manifesto.

What’s the update on Obi’s manifesto?

In October 2022, a document believed to be Peter Obi’s manifesto trended on social media. But the candidate announced later that day that the document wasn’t his manifesto but an earlier draft copy under review.

Weeks later, he’s still not released a final version of his manifesto. His failure to release one stands out because he’s the only major candidate yet to do so. Candidates of the APC, Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) and even the Social Democratic Party (SDP) have all dropped their manifestos.

What’s taking so long?

According to LP’s Special Adviser on Public Affairs, Katch Ononuju, the manifesto is still being “fine-tuned”, as the party is trying to be careful not to plagiarise other party manifestos. 

He also told Nigerians not to worry about the manifesto, as it’s not a “big deal”, since what Obi would have written as a manifesto has been said in interviews anyway. 

Are manifestoes a big deal?

Unlike Nigeria, countries in other parts of the world don’t play with their manifestos. In Mexico and even Bhutan in South-Asia,  political parties are required by law to submit a copy of their election manifesto to the electoral commission before general elections. Citizens can only access these manifestos with the approval of the commission.

Why should you care about manifestos?

In all this, you must be asking — why should you care whether manifestos are released or not?

The answer is quite simple — for accountability. If a politician makes a set of promises and it’s properly documented, it makes it easier for us to hold them by the neck when they fail to deliver. 

So even though we know Tinubu is just looking for an excuse not to debate anyone in public, the question still remains — where’s Obi’s manifesto?



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