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Media guru reveals why Obi’s recent Tweet angered a powerful section of the country

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Peter Obi, the Labour Party Presidential candidate is still generating buzz despite coming third in the recently concluded Presidential elections.

The former Anambra State governor successfully spearheaded a third force in Nigerian politics and it appears his involvement in the Labour Party has put them among the elite political institution in the country.

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However, despite his popularity, some of his comment has come to be received with multiple interpretations, some of these interpretations are not favourable and in turn, put in bad stead with those affected.

Recently, Obi Tweeted about saving Nigeria from poverty starting from the North. Some powerful individuals and observers in the region saw it as a slight dig at the people of the area.

Speaking about the matter, media guru, Professor Farooq Kperogi explained that the message was not received particularly well by some people in the region and it is mostly due to the diverse ways people see things.

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Kperogi said:

“Obi’s spotlight on the North is, of course, balanced on a thick thread of irrefutably solid statistical evidence. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), of the 133 million Nigerians who writhe in unspeakably stifling multidimensional poverty as of the end of last year, 86 million (which represents 65 per cent) live in the North.

“The North constitutes 54 per cent of Nigeria’s population (and 70 per cent of its landmass), so if the region makes up 65 per cent of the nation’s poorest population there’s an imbalance.

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“Given that context, it’s reasonable that Obi chose to call attention to the poverty in the North, as he had done many times in the past, and to invoke it as the launching pad of his commitment to transform Nigeria. (Had he spotlighted the South, he might also have been accused of regional self-centeredness!)

“But to expect all northerners to process Obi’s message the way I’ve done is to have a limited understanding of human behaviours and motivations. You see, every region in Nigeria, as I’ve pointed out in the past, has its stereotypical vulnerabilities about which it is sensitive.

“From religious extremism to endemic child abandonment, from 419 email scams to “baby factories,” from child trafficking and prostitution in foreign lands to disabling alcoholism, from credit card scams to kidnapping, etc. Nigerians can, and often do, easily territorialize crimes and negative traits within their national space.

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“These stereotypical territorializations of crimes and negative stereotypes are often considered offensive when they are uttered by “outsiders” but tolerated, sometimes praised even, when they are uttered by “insiders.”

“Many northerners have called attention to the endemic poverty in the North and got praises for it. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, for instance, has been brutal and unsparing when he calls attention to poverty in the region and the culture that conduces to it.

“When he spoke at the fourth Kaduna Investment Summit on April 3, 2019, Aliko Dangote, the world’s richest Black person who is incidentally a northern Nigerian, also said way worse things about poverty in the North than Obi could ever say.

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“Nigeria is ranked 157th out of 189 countries on the human development index. While the overall socio-economic condition in the country is a cause for concern, the regional disparities are very alarming,” he said. “In the Northwestern and Northeastern parts of Nigeria, more than 60 per cent of the population lives in extreme poverty.”

“No northerner had a problem with Dangote for what he said. Many northerners lauded his forthrightness. Northerners are resentful of Obi’s oblique references to the poverty in the North because he is an “outsider” who is in addition resented for asking the “Church” to “take back” its “country” and for characterising the 2023 election as a “religious war” between Muslims and Christians.”

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