Takeouts from the Vice-presidential debate

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The Vice-presidential debate was held on Friday, December 14, 2018 at the Transcorp-Hilton Hotel in Abuja. Five Vice-presidential candidates participated in the event, including Peter Obi(PDP) and Yemi Osinbajo(APC).

Today’s Echo brings out five major takeouts from the exercise:

  1. Obi and Osinbajo have different ideas about corruption

One of the major revelations from the debate is the sharp divergence between candidates of the two major parties about the meaning of corruption and how best it should be tackled.

Peter Obi  faulted the APC-led federal government approach to anti-graft war, saying while the government was busy fighting corruption, Nigerian Stock Market lost N2 trillion in one year.

According to him “Fighting corruption is not an economic policy. It is not that you can’t fight corruption; you can fight it more aggressively while addressing economic issues.

“For example, in 2015, unemployment and underemployment was 24% , today is 40%. In 2015, we attracted $21 billion in Foreign Direct Investment, we attracted only $12 billion last year. Our GDP was $520 billion in 2015 and per capital was $2,500, today it is under $1,900.

Osinbajo disagreed with Obi. He said the gravity of corruption should not be trivialised.

The APC candidate said, “If you allow criminals to steal all the inventory in the shop, there will be no shop. That’s the problem. And what has happened in Nigeria in the past 16 years is what the World Bank told us; that the major cause of our poverty is corruption.

“That is what we’ve been told. So, let me say there is no way we can minimise. You can’t minimise corruption; if you minimise it, we run the risk of completely — in fact, the argument is lost.

“We cannot do what we want to do unless we are able to minimise corruption or eradicate it completely, which is what we’re trying to do.”

2. It’s not easy to defend a failing government but Osinbajo tried

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is part of a government that was very promising in inception but has now lost trust due to several failed promises. As an incumbent, it is very difficult to defend a government that has lost considerable popularity against a rejuvenated opposition but Osinbajo tried nonetheless. He spoke brilliantly on the economy, even though Peter Obi tried his best to make nonsense of his points with the government’s failures as evidence. Osinbajo also made some wild, exaggerated claims. When he said Nigeria currently produces a chunk of the rice it consumes, not a few Nigerians were left raising puzzled eyebrows. Millions of Nigerians would tell you for free that locally produced rice is almost never on the market shelves when they go shopping.

3. Many of Peter Obi’s statistics were wrong

Vice presidential candidate of the PDP, Peter Obi is a brilliant man by most accounts and he was full of life on Friday night, rubbishing some of Osinbajo’s arguments. Many PDP chieftains have hailed him for a job well done and congratulated him for winning the debates. However, a simple fact check by online news channels, Cable and Premium Times revealed that he didn’t get his figures right on many issues. These includes his assertion that there are only two million vehicles in Nigeria and Nigeria’s foreign direct investment for 2015 was $21bn, while it fell to $12bn in 2017.

4. Candidates of the smaller parties appeared unprepared

The candidates of the smaller parties looked more like work in progress than people ready to take on the challenges of leadership but they tried nonetheless.

Umma Getso(YPP) started with plenty of butterflies in her tummy. By mid-debate however, those butterflies were largely perching on the doors of the hallway.
Getso spoke relatively well on fiscal restructuring, the YPP’s plan to stimulate innovation through a venture capital fund, while touting Kingsley Moghalu’s economic credentials whenever she had the opportunity to do so. She was deferring to him most of the time, a pointer that they both sing from the same hymn sheet.
She was flat on other policy discussions however, preferring instead to repeat her bare-bone points.

Ganiyu Galadima(ACPN) certainly wasn’t ready for this debate and wouldn’t have been ready if an extra 5 hours were added to the session.
He started nervously, picked up nervously and ended nervously. He was also all over the place, didn’t deliver a solid point worthy of recall and fumbled his lines.
Perhaps, his only stellar moment of the debate was when he reminded everyone that the head of the ticket, Oby Ezekwesili, is perhaps one of the best economic minds around.

Khadijah ABdullahi Iya(ANN)  started nervously, but grew in some confidence as the debate wore on.
Not much can be said of where Abdullahi-Iya stands on some of the issues raised during the debate because she offered little by way of policy standpoints and proposals.
However, she chipped in a few strong points while countering some of the policies of the Buhari administration being touted by Osinbajo.
Abdullahi-Iya’s best point has to be when she said local governments should be able to control their own resources and pay a tax to the center.



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