Monday 13 March 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Monday. 13/3/2023

The Monocle Minute

Image: Reuters

Opinion / Ope Adetayo

Taking the long view

The Labour Party’s Peter Obi, who came third in the recent Nigerian presidential election, has taken his grievances to a tribunal as he seeks to overturn the results. There is little faith in the court and it is likely to confirm Bola Tinubu as the winner of an election fraught with mind-boggling irregularities.

The question remains as to what will happen to the Obi movement: the supporters who propelled a fringe-party candidate to the brink of power. It was mostly young, urban and educated people who decided to vote for him and he amassed an impressive six million votes. This bloc – which includes myself – is frustrated at not seeing the fruits of democracy. We’re yet to witness a consistent electricity supply or a stable currency and we’re migrating to other countries in large numbers due to high unemployment and insecurity.

Nigerians know better than to expect a messiah after eight disastrous years under the 80-year-old president Muhammadu Buhari. And while Obi wasn’t seen as having all the answers, a vote for him was a rejection of the status quo and gave people the feeling that they had a voice. The future for the next four years is in the opposition, which Nigeria has traditionally lacked outside election cycles. The two dominant political parties – the ruling All Progressives Congress and the People’s Democratic Party – have often ruled unchallenged. That needs to change.

The fight to replace an entrenched political system will be a long one that will take many years. In a country dominated by career politicians, we need to maintain the anger that has propelled the movement over the last year, including the widespread protests against police brutality around the country. Now is our time to keep challenging the status quo.

Ope Adetayo is a Monocle contributor based in Lagos. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.

Image: Alamy

Politics / UK

This time it’s personal

Voting begins today for the Scottish National Party (SNP) leadership election in what marks a crucial moment for the country’s independence movement. The three candidates (pictured, left to right) – finance secretary Kate Forbes; former community safety minister, Ash Regan; and health secretary, Humza Yousaf – clashed bitterly in a televised debate last week. Yousaf and Forbes in particular traded a string of personal blows that saw the pair questioning each other’s suitability for the leadership role.

As the polls open, many SNP members are approaching with trepidation. Forbes is the most divisive of the candidates, having stated that she would not have voted for same-sex marriage, and could potentially split the party were she to win. The turmoil will no doubt have both UK prime minister Rishi Sunak and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer rubbing their hands. With the next UK general election likely to happen next year, both will be looking to capitalise on SNP divisions and secure crucial votes in Scotland.

Image: Getty Images

Aviation / Turkey

Hold your drone

There is a new pride of Turkey’s naval fleet: TCG Anadolu (pictured), delivered this month. Anadolu appears to be an orthodox aircraft carrier but looks likely to be used as a completely new type of military platform: a drone carrier. Anadolu’s deployment coincides with Turkey’s surge to prominence in producing unmanned military aircraft. In 2021, they represented the largest segment in Turkey’s defence sector exports, most famously the Baykar Bayraktar TB2, used by Ukraine against Russian invaders.

“Using Anadolu as a drone carrier is a rational response to no longer having access to the F-35,” says Keir Giles, senior consulting fellow with the Russia and Eurasia programme at Chatham House, referencing Turkey’s removal from the fighter aircraft production process in 2019 over its dealings with Russia. Baykar is now testing the Kizilelma – what appears to be an unmanned fighter jet roughly the size of an F-16. Aspiring Turkish top guns may want to consider a Plan B.

Image: Shutterstock

Economy / China

Balancing act

Generally it’s screeching U-turns, stand-downs or stark policy shifts that make headlines. But Xi Jinping’s (pictured) unprecedented third term as China’s president, which was rubber-stamped on Friday, is likely to spell more of the same. Onlookers can bank on continued economic rivalry with the West and further tightening of Xi’s control over the world’s second biggest economy. This said, market watchers have also noticed a subtle shift in policy signalled by this year’s lower-than-expected GDP growth target of 5 per cent.

“The message from policymakers is about common prosperity and that’s a shift from maximising GDP and growth,” Bhanu Baweja, chief strategist at UBS Investment Bank, tells the Monocle Minute. “If investment slows and consumption picks up, the rebalancing will be positive for China but not great for the rest of the world. China may become less dependent on global imports.” Xi’s focus on economic resilience isn’t a revolution but it may still be felt far beyond Beijing.

For more insights, ideas and analysis listen to ‘The Bulletin with UBS’ on Monocle 24.

Image: Foster and Partners

Transport / Poland

Direct service

The Polish government has announced that its new central airport will be connected to the country’s major urban centres via a series of high-speed rail corridors. It means that visitors will soon find their aircraft touching down at the new aviation hub before being whisked away by train to Warsaw, Krakow and beyond. The new rail lines will total 1,981km in length, almost half of them high-speed. The trains are essential to the effective operation of the €1.5bn “mega airport” being built 40km west of Warsaw and due to open in 2027.

Poland’s ambition to create a world-class airport to serve the whole country could ensure that its citizens are better connected to Europe and the world. To be truly effective, construction of the new rail lines needs to keep pace with that of the aviation hub. With work expected to start on the Warsaw-to-Łódź train route next year, we’re hoping everything stays on track.

Image: Mike Nelson / The Hayward Gallery

Monocle 24 / Monocle On Culture

Mike Nelson

The British artist has represented Great Britain at the Venice Biennale and exhibited at some of the world’s finest galleries. We explore his new survey at London’s Hayward Gallery, Extinction Beckons, which is a bold and exciting collection of installations.

Monocle Films / Greece

Why Greeks live longer

Nestled in the heart of the Aegean, the island of Ikaria used to be a secluded spot with a humble and unhurried way of life. Today, a third of the island’s population lives to be more than 90 years old. We venture to the local kafeneia, wild beaches and abundant allotments to meet the bronzed seniors.


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