PLEASE HELP TEACH PETER OBI PUBLIC SPEAKING!
Ozodi Thomas Osuji
Whereas in everything that people do are those who do it as if they did not learn it but were born to do It, but, overall, most of us learn what we do and try to do it well.
Whereas some people seem born good public speakers, most of us learned to do public speaking and it did not come naturally to us. The same goes for leadership, some seem born with leadership ability whereas the rest of us had to learn how to become leaders. Most people can learn most things.
Peter Obi is an extremely poor public speaker. I would give him an F in public speaking. This is not a sentimental response; it is based on facts. Watching him attempt to speak publicly, on different occasions, especially recently at CNN, I could not believe that this man is the man arousing loads of followers; simply stated, he did not speak well.
He did not come across as quick on his feet; he appeared like a dull student who had to pause and think about his answers and even then, he spoke his answers excitedly, as a novice in the art of public speaking does, not as a practiced public speaker, which, at this point, he should have become.
His vocabulary and diction are what you would expect in a third-rate secondary school graduate, certainly, it is below even those who did badly at their university studies.
The man comes across as poorly educated; he is almost in the same category as Mohammadu Buhari (when that one mumbles what he calls speeches you can hardly understand what he is saying, and you wonder if he is speaking in the English language or Fulani?).
Yet, many young Nigerians, given the alternative to him, two old men, Bola Tinubu and Abubakar Atiku, flock to him. They look to him certainly not because of his speaking prowess or knowledge but what they project to him to represent for them, ability to solve Nigeria’s problems.
The man’s speeches merely rehash what most Nigerians know about Nigeria’s issues but do not forcefully articulate the solutions to them!
If Mr. Obi really has solutions to Nigeria’s myriad problems someone could teach him to articulate those solutions in as decent speeches as are possible.
I am almost certain that there are writing and speech departments at some Nigerian universities where some expert at public speaking can help this man learn how to make public deliveries. At present, he seems lost when called upon to speak.
His speaking is impulsive, excited and not deliberative; he lacks what is seen in good public speakers, beginning slowly and the tempo rises, like well calibrated music, the cadence builds up to a crescendo and then ends, and you hear people shout: bravo, bravo, bravo, well done, old boy!
Mr. Obi, at present, is not a good public speaker. If he has something to say, somebody please volunteer and teach him the art of public speaking so that he stops embarrassing those who bother to listen to him; I tune him out after a few minutes of listening to him because I am driven by the pursuit of excellence and if a person does not seem to know what he is doing, I get rid of him and move on.
I understand that since Peter Obi promises Igbos a chance at being elected to a high political office, such offices were shut to Igbos since 1970, anyone who is perceived as an obstacle on Obi’s path is resented by Igbos. In that light, I can see some Igbos perceiving me saying the obvious as detracting from his mission. I can see some of them raining insults and abuses on me because of this feedback that the man needs to improve his capability in public speaking.
I understand these people’s frustrations. Igbos have been shut out of meaningful participation in Nigerian politics, and Nigeria pays the price with the inability to do even the most common thing anyone can do; thus, the country is in shambles, is corruption haven.
Let me tell Igbos that I am as Igbo as any of them; like most of them I resent Nigeria’s marginalization of Igbos. I do not need education on what has been done to us since the end of the Nigerian civil war; we are now onlookers not participators in Nigerian politics.
Please do not question my patriotism. I come from the heartland of Igbos, Owerri; I come from a Diala family, indeed, the first among equals, a member of the Umuamadioha priestly family.
What I say about Peter Obi is said out of goodwill not hatred, so do not twist it to make your perverted point of how some Igbos hate other Igbos and work with the perceived Nigerian enemy.
Let me end by saying that if you are close to Mazi Obi you should ask him to hire a speech coach. Watch Barack Obama speak, and you see an orator at his craft.
My father used to tell me that Nnamdi Azikiwe was an excellent orator; therefore, with a little effort, Peter Obi, too, could become a decent public speaker.
Ozodi Thomas Osuji, PhD, University of California
September 18, 2022