The Organized Private Sector (OPS) made up of the Nigerian Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), and other similar bodies, are one of the strongest cabals in Nigeria that are rarely spoken of.
This body holds all the banks, Insurance companies, Telecom companies, etc, with millions of employees under their influence.
Sometimes ago, I heard it said somewhere that if the Organized Private Sector do not want you to win an election, you are going nowhere. While this is debatable, it is not far from the truth.
Having established the sphere of influence of the OPS, let’s now go into the crux of this piece – who do you think the OPS will support for the presidency in the 2023 presidential election?
Is it Tinubu?
Tinubu was governor of Lagos for 8 years; everyone knows about that. And I think his only relationship with the OPS came from when he was governor since Lagos is the economic nerve centre of the country. But that was it. Before and after his governorship, Tinubu is not known to have owned any business that made him a member of any of these bodies which would make him understand the needs of these bodies. If anything, the administration of Tinubu introduced a lot of taxes which suffocates businesses; no matter how we want to argue about how imperative the introduction of those taxes are.
Is it Atiku?
Like Tinubu, Atiku has no much affiliation with the OPS except for his time as Vice President of Nigeria and his ownership of Intels, a company that handles shipping of oil or so, which he has now divested from. Atiku also owns the American University in Adamawa but I don’t know if proprietors of schools are part of the OPS (people who know better should inform us).
Is it Peter Obi?
Of the 3 frontline candidates, Peter Obi is the only one who has been, and might still be, a member of the OPS. Having been Chairman of Fidelity Bank and sat on the board of directors of another bank, Obi is clearly sunken into the OPS. Again, being a major importer in Nigeria, something his traducers seldom use against him, Peter Obi is also a member of importers and exporters association of Nigeria (if there’s any such body). But what his being an importer means is that he understands the pains importers pass through to source forex and to clear their goods when they eventually land; not talking about high excise duties that these importers pay just to clear their goods.
So, from the foregoing, it’s quite obvious that Peter Obi is not only a friend of the OPS, he’s part of the OPS, if not part of the board of directors.
But this is Nigeria. That Peter Obi is part of the OPS is not a guarantee that the body would support him. So many other factors might make the body choose to support another presidential candidate like Tinubu or Atiku. Worthy to mention that it is also not likely that they will all swing to one person as interest and motivation might bring about divergence of opinion and choices amongst them.
But who do you think they will support?