Floods: Peter Obi’s good example
Sir: It’s quite commendable for Peter Obi to suspend his campaign activities and go visiting flooded communities across the country. Over 600 Nigerians have died and over a million people displaced in what has become the worst flooding in a decade. In Benue State, Obi waded through the waters, spoke words of consolation to the beleaguered citizens and donated N5 million to them. As you read this, Obi has moved to another flooded community. I understand that he will visit most of the flooded communities. The Labour Party candidate also called on the other 17 presidential candidates to suspend their campaigns and join him in visiting our fellow citizens in distress. So far, none of them has responded. I recall that when he was governor of Anambra State, Obi also waded through high flood waters to reach the affected people in his state. This year, Kogi, Anambra, Bayelsa, Delta, Benue and many others in the North East have been ravaged by the overflowing water.
It is not right to claim that Obi is now extending help to flood-ravaged communities because he is running for President. Rather, showing love and empathy is his second nature.
This is how Prof. Stefan Dercon of Oxford University, UK, describes the situation in his recently published book, ‘‘Gambling on Development – Why some countries win and others lose’’: ‘‘Nigeria is not just a country characterised by both extreme wealth and deepest abject poverty. … It is also home to some of the worst forms of patronage, rent-seeking economic behaviour, absurd economic policies, ethnic political competition, poor, or at times, predatory and corrupt public administration, violence and conflict, and, too often, little hope.’’ Nigerian writers and commentators are even less charitable in their assessment of their political leaders.
Indeed, compassion and humility are two of the 21 qualities of a good leader. As Deanna deBara, American writer, entrepreneur, speaker and coach, writes, ‘‘humility leads to better listening, increased collaboration, and a more compassionate leadership style. It creates more authenticity and a more constant drive to learn. These qualities lead to better outcomes, both for the leaders and the teams. Humble leaders aren’t afraid to make mistakes.’’
I thank Peter Obi for his kind gesture and exemplary conduct. I call on other wealthy Nigerians and philanthropic organisations to reach out to our people in distress. Nigerians have always shown responsiveness to fellow citizens who are in anguish.