June 15, 2024

Chimamanda Adichie’s words on Peter Obi

Chimamanda Adichie’s words on Peter Obi

“Peter Obi is comfortable in his skin. His air is of a person who is who he has always been, genial and genuine, transparent and level-headed, effortlessly himself.

He has that rare quality of supreme self-confidence unmarred by a fragile ego; he takes criticism in stride, has no use for pompousness, and can laugh at himself. He is uncommonly principled, especially so for a Nigerian politician, and while he never shies away from highlighting this, his sense of humour saves him from falling into the dingy pit of self-righteousness.

When his humour isn’t self-deprecating, it is sometimes sly, sometimes cutting, and almost always edifying. You find yourself laughing, but the laughter is a pathway to revelation. It makes you think or rethink ideas, and puts your mind to work.

His ease with data and numbers inspires confidence and suggests an intellectual curiosity, a keenness to learn; a man who does his homework because he wants to and not because he has to.

It is obvious how intimately he knows—and loves—Nigeria, how pained he is by the tarnish and the rot. He is too clear-eyed to be sentimental and too realistic to be ideological, and it is easy to imagine him creating an eclectic toolbox of political solutions. His worldview is shaped by the shrewdness of a self-made businessman, the steadfastness of a striver, and the soul of a dreamer.

Here is a wealthy man who is both quiet and unapologetic about his (clean and legitimate) wealth, who is contemptuous of the excesses of the privileged class, and who is completely at ease with ordinary people. This perhaps is why he is so effective at bridging the divisions of class and culture: his folksy wisdom is easily digestible and accessible to every kind of Nigerian.

His vision is aspirational but in a practical, achievable way. To hear him speak of expanding agriculture in the North, or of reducing corruption by starting at the top, is to re-imagine Nigeria in bold familiar fonts, a much better country yet recognizable still.

Above all else, he comes across as wonderfully human. He shows compassion without being false, and he speaks of the poor not as props but as people. He knows how much garri and fuel and bread cost today, and he knows what they cost last year, and he knows how unacceptable the difference is.

Amid such stark hardship in the country, it is heartening to see in Peter Obi a sign of inspirational leadership—the ability to leave people with a sense of attainable hope.”