By Donu Kogbara
WHEREVER I go nowadays – social gatherings, work events, etc – I ask the people I meet which of the many presidential aspirants they prefer; and the answer is almost always “Osinbajo or Peter Obi”.
And though some of those I have spoken to say that they don’t find Obi/Osinbajo as particularly impressive or regard them as messiahs, everyone who has described them as preferences has expressed the view that they are accomplished and disciplined enough to eliminate at least some of Nigeria’s economic, security and image problems.
I wouldn’t dare claim that my casual enquiries possess the weight of a proper opinion poll. And I’m aware that I exist in an elitist “bubble” that is largely occupied by folks who are not typical voters.
But informal questioning can deliver interesting insights into the mindsets of one or more segments of the general population; and I find it fascinating that the same two names keep coming up, whether I am talking to Nigerians (at home or abroad) or to foreigners who live here or simply take a keen interest in what is happening here.
It is also worth noting that most of the Osinbajo and Obi supporters I’ve encountered thus far don’t seem to care about Osinbajo or Obi’s political affiliations…and have told me that they’d vote for them as individuals of merit rather than because they belong to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, or the All Progressives Congress, APC.
One thing that has really surprised me is that many people who normally vote PDP say that they are ready to vote for Osinbajo if Obi isn’t the PDP candidate…while many people who normally vote APC are ready to vote for Obi if Osinbajo is not the APC candidate.
I even know a card-carrying member of the PDP who swears that he will not vote for his own party’s candidate in 2023 “if it is not Obi”.
Another eye-opener is the fact that quite a few non-Igbos and Muslims have made it clear that they are very willing in principle to enthrone Peter Obi or Pastor Yemi Osinbajo, despite prophets of doom and ethno-religious strife peddlers constantly assuring us that a) no Northerner will allow a Pentecostal Christian to get the top job, and b) this country cannot currently cope with an Igbo president.
Having said all of the above, nothing is writ in stone. As a former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom – the late Harold Wilson – once said, “a week is a long time in politics”. And it certainly is. So much – the nation’s mood, the reputation of an aspirant, the options that are available on the high table, etc, etc, etc – can suddenly change in the course of 24 hours, never mind seven days.
For starters, not everyone who intends to run has declared so far.
If Dr Kayode Fayemi, for example, throws his hat into the ring, his arrival in the Hopefuls corral could be a major game-changer and impact on Osinbajo’s chances (by dividing the votes of those who have a penchant for civilised and cerebral Yoruba gentlemen!)
Fayemi, the Governor of Ekiti and Chairman of the Governors’ Forum, is also from the South-West and also attracts considerable respect from the same types of Nigerians and foreigners who are drawn to Osinbajo’s professionalism, polish and intellectual credibility.
Furthermore, though Fayemi has been a staunch member of the APC from Day One, critics of the limping Buhari administration are not likely to attack him as fiercely as they attack Buhari’s deputy.
So let’s wait and see what happens in the critical month of May, while remembering that while Obi/Osinbajo are popular with folks around me, they may be a whole heap less popular with the PDP/APC delegates who will have the final say on the candidacy front.
Lest we forget, there are other plausible aspirants and potential aspirants – Tinubu, Amaechi, Atiku and Emefiele, for instance – who might triumph at the primaries for various reasons. And, by the way, I cannot understand why anyone is even arguing about whether aspirants who are ministers should resign or not. It is obvious that they should vacate their seats. But since political ethics have never been Nigeria’s speciality, I am guessing that they will get away with eating their cake and having it.
PS: If I had my way, Kingsley Moghalu would also be a front runner; and most of the people who rule us would be trashed because they are of bad character or primitive or simply lacking in leadership skills.
The Ancient Greek philosopher, Plato, said that: “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”
This is so true! But I will continue to be a non-participating complainant because it is so difficult to join the fray and make a difference and serve suffering Nigerians properly when most of your competitors are thieving sociopaths who have never achieved anything real, are not interested in achieving anything real and are desperados who kill, maim and rig their way into power.
May God save us and bring us a brighter future.
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