By Rose Moses
Anyone reading this piece must have heard of the story of a man bathing at a river during which his clothes were taken away by a mad man, a situation that leaves the victim torn between the devil and deep blue sea.
And so, the issue becomes if he will just stand there naked watching and pleading with the mad man who’s making away with his clothes, or just dare the devil by running after the madman in his nakedness to recover his clothes.
Going through an online debate on this very precarious situation, the responses were as witty as they could get.
One of those commenting said he will hang around the river side until someone passes by that may assist him with something to cover his nakedness.
This, he said, is assuming the incident was happening in a village where he may know some of those that could be passing by. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have been at that river in the first place.
Another said the incident couldn’t have happened in an open place, since he can’t imagine himself taking a bath in a place very open to the world, except he is the mad one.
In that case, he would run after whoever had his clothes, hoping he will get to grab any piece of it before they find themselves in a place where all eyes may be on them.
Yet, another thinks this cannot happen to anyone, unless his village people must have sent the so-called madman after him, meaning they have something to settle with each other.
Then came the argument that when the owner of the clothes starts chasing the madman, it would naturally be hard for anyone seeing them to believe any of them is sane.
This brings me to the main gist of this write-up, which has to do with the debate for vice presidential candidates in the 2019 general elections organised by the Nigeria Elections Debate Group (NEDG) and the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) on Friday, December 14, 2018.
The debate featured five candidates from the numerous registered political parties for the elections, namely, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Prof Yemi Osinbajo; that of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Peter Obi; their Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) counterpart, Ganiyu Galadima; Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN) candidate, Khadijah Abdullahi-Iya and Young Progressive Party’s (YPP) Umma Getso.
An independently administered multi-stage process was said to have led to the selection of the political parties that partook in the debate, and candidates outlined their plans for the country, answering critical questions on the state of the nation and its future.
A number of issues ranging from the economy to restructuring, agriculture, health, infrastructure development, fight against corruption, aviation and foreign policy, among others, were tackled by the participants.
But one issue that has dominated public discourse ever since is Mr. Peter Obi’s well-crafted point on how not to fight corruption, apparently referring to the present administration’s approach to the fight at the expense of every other aspect of governance.
Responding to a question, Obi said corruption can be tackled aggressively while rebuilding the economy.
“You are not creating jobs, you are not doing the right thing, and you are just fighting corruption. You can’t shut down your shop and be chasing criminals,” he said, adding, “In 2015, unemployment and underemployment was 24 per cent, today it’s 40. In 2015, we were attracting N21 billion in foreign direct investments; we attracted only 12 last year.
“That means it’s going low. Our GDP was 520 in 2015, and per capital was 2, 500, today it’s under 1, 900. If you look at our stock market, it has lost over N2 trillion in one year.”
The PDP vice-presidential candidate therefore advised the government to focus more on improving the nation’s economy, warning that there might be a crisis in the country if the government fails to address the issue of unemployment, especially among the youths.
APC vice-presidential candidate, Professor Osinbajo would respond swiftly to this, saying, “If you allow criminals to steal all the inventories in the shop, there will be no shop,” stressing that major cause of poverty in the country is corruption.
Now, I do not want to go into how and why a war against corruption can or cannot be fought in a way that will not shut down the economy. But the argument between the two candidates that obviously performed much better than the others at the debate, simply reminds one of the mad man and the clothes at the river side.
So, if you find yourself in that situation, will you run after the mad man with out your clothes or seek other solutions?
How you choose to handle the situation will definitely determine what line of argument you are bound to stand with in the thief and shop owners’ analogy as it relates to war against corruption?
And that is barring any tribal or political sentiments that have systematically been dragging backward development of Nigeria.