By Nwandugbom Kalu
Congratulations to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, family in Osun State in particular and Nigeria in general. Dancing to the victory steps of Governor-elect Adebola Adeleke is a much needed shot in the arm for a party that lost its way after a nomination process that was ruined by the way and manner the running mate emerged in addition to a political insurgency launched by a former running mate of the party.
Osun people have done for PDP what a million propagandists cannot do: put the party back on course to winning the 2023 presidential election. Winning the native state of Ahmed Bola Tinubu is a major bubble burster for the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, presidential candidate and his party. By February 2023, there will be two PDP state governments in the South- West region that was hitherto seen as Tinubu’s impregnable territory and, by all means, that is a big deal even if it doesn’t translate to PDP winning both states.
Osun has also opened a door for most angry PDP members and supporters that joined the Peter Obi “insurgency” to find a way back to the party because politicians and their supporters love victory and the winning momentum. That Obi’s Labour Party, LP, managed only a paltry 2,729 votes will definitely send a message to candidates of the party who thought they can run on the wave of Obi’s popular acceptance across the country to win governorship seats in other states to re-evaluate and see that Obi’s voters are only interested in him to the exclusion of others. That fact alone gives credence to the no structure quips of Labour Party opponents because a structured party will naturally translate the popularity of its leader to other levels of its tickets.
Yet, we must recognise that Obi still holds the key to PDP winning the 2023 presidential election, albeit in an ironic manner. To date, I am yet to see a sizeable number of APC supporters that have ported to Labour Party whereas most of those backing Obi are former PDP members. This is particularly true in the South-Eastern region that overwhelmingly voted for Atiku in 2019 and Jonathan in 2015.
It, therefore, follows that every potential vote for Peter Obi in the South- East can only benefit Bola Tinubu of APC who ordinarily should not be expected to win substantial votes from the region given his party’s obvious disdain for the people of the area and his personal non-existent relationship with leaders of the region. Indeed, Tinubu does not have to campaign in the South-East as long as Peter Obi maintains his strong momentum going into the 2023 election. For a region that feels marginalised, cheated and abused by others, I don’t also see Obi’s momentum going down without a major political re-engineering.
It is also safe to say that given the cause of the angst in the South-East, without Obi being in the ballot the people will ordinarily choose the lesser evil and vote for PDP. Indeed, more than anything the people of the region will wish to see the end of the APC governance in Nigeria even if they don’t get their own son in Aso Rock.
Therein lies the only available strategy for PDP to win the presidential election in 2923, even if a very tough nut to crack: enter into an alliance with Peter Obi that will save Nigeria from APC’s maladministration and give hope to the people of the South-East region.
On paper, it will be difficult to get Peter Obi to suspend his ambition but in reality it is very possible knowing that he is not a desperate politician and knows deep down the tall order that it is to win the 2023 presidential election in a country like Nigeria where electoral contests are settled by mundane considerations such as where you come from, how much you are ready to give as “shishi” and who is bankrolling you.
Obi was a former running mate to Atiku Abubakar and understands the stakes. He loves Nigeria and he has all through his public presentations shown that he does not like the way APC is running the country aground. One thing a Peter Obi will never wish is for APC to continue in governance of the country with a candidate that is even less acceptable than the incumbent. Hence, I am personally convinced that Peter Obi can be persuaded to see the real and bigger picture, which is that his political interventions at this time will lead to the perpetuation of bad leadership, one that he is preaching against, on the country.
If the leaders of PDP, especially Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, are serious about changing the trajectory of our country positively they must engage Peter Obi immediately and make offers that accommodate him and his running mate in the Presidency of 2023 and going forward. I suspect that if the offer includes making him the economic engine room of the new government with his running mate also playing very key role on youths and innovation, there might be a deal that saves the country from the looming disaster of sociopolitical and economic asphyxiation.
Where it becomes impossible to pacify Obi and his team, we must all celebrate Osun as a momentary victory while preparing for the coming disaster of a likely presidency of Bola Tinubu and Kashim Shettima that will make Buhari years of anomie look like the best years of Nigeria in living memory.
In simple language, every 2023 vote for Peter Obi in the South-East region is a thinly disguised vote for Tinubu-Shettima presidency. Will Ndigbo, Nigeria and Nigerians survive the consequences?
Feel free to decide with your PVC.