Peter Obi

By Ndubuisi Nwafor

“This dimension of our identity politics is frightening, but it’s not an unusual experience” -Gimba Kakanda, 9th August, 2022. Daily Trust.

Nigeria’s political, social, cultural, economic and religious space is currently awash and agog with political activities. Such activities include ethnic, ageist, and other toxic innuendoes with the propensity to scuttle the very existence of our dear country Nigeria.

The history of Nigeria’s power transitions may have assumed a parabola tangent, ranging from elections, coups and even appointments as was the case with transition from IBB to Chief Ernest Shonekan, but in all, good fortune and electoral popularity have played major roles.

The argument that South East has been displaced politically in the power equation of Nigeria is an honest and painful truth. However, this situation is both self-inflicted and as a result of festering fear of Igbo domination in the contemporary Nigeria. It is self-inflicted by the continuing detachment mentality prevalent in the South East after the unfortunate incident of 1967-1970.

The attrition that was meted out during and after the civil war has been a clog in the wheel of the no-victor no-vanquished re-integration policy of the 1970s. Many people from South East extraction have both real and imaginary examples of deliberate mistreatments in almost all facets of Nigeria sectors. This has prompted the surge in embracing entrepreneurial ventures in order to avoid queuing up for favours from our common patrimony.

The fear of Igbo domination is yet another factor that sticks out like a sore finger.  An average folk from the South East extraction is seen as wanting to dominate the others. There are numerous allegations ranging from “too much sense”, “too much love for money”, “too much boldness”, “too much stubbornness”, and of course “too much hatred for themselves”.

These are traits I can say we share equally in the country among all the ethnic groups. But the toga of it has been firmly wrapped over the shoulders of the Igbos alone. The Nigeria nation-state is a capitalist one, with its attendant healthy and unhealthy competitions.  It is therefore difficult for any ethnic group in power to equitably allow it to go round for the spirit of national integration and political inclusion. This is why it was difficult for Goodluck Jonathan to resist the temptation to contest in 2015 and allow the Northern part of the country to produce a president. And this is also Why PDP even though presently out of power found it impossible to allow Southern Nigeria to field a flag bearer for the 2023 presidential election.

Beyond all these permutations is the need to improve the plummeted standard of living of common Nigerians who have not amassed great wealth like our present crop of politicians and technocrats.  The cost of living is now over the ceiling and most Nigerians in our spirit of “suffering and smiling” have started to show symptoms of mental illness called depression without knowing it.

Buhari in all honesty cannot “do pass himself”.  It is a case of cutting your coat according to your cloth; our dear President has expended his capacity; he has been honest to admit the limitation imposed by age and ill health in facing the plethora of issues arising from the governance of a complex country like Nigeria. The abysmal state of security is a new normal, the economy has been lost in the milky way of confusion and corruption and the President can’t wait to hand over power and take his belated rest.  However, he has been reliable in laying a solid free and fair foundation for the electoral process that would usher in his successor. In this sense, he is giving back and even improving on the electoral system that brought him to power. This to me will be one of his best legacies.

Peter Gregory Obi permeated the Nigerian consciousness as a joker who dared to upstage a well-entrenched PDP in Anambra State when the almighty Uba family (Chris, Andy and Ugochukwu) were holding the state both at the throat and the third-leg.

Nobody gave him a chance, not even a puncher’s chance. His voice and message were off-key and different. He thought the system wasn’t working well. He didn’t promise to share money and he suggested he could stop the corruption that was ravaging Anambra state then. He even vowed to eradicate godfatherism in the politics of the state, and people thought probably he had been smoking and abusing a dangerous substance for him to dare to bring these changes. He won the election- but regained his stolen mandate after challenging Dr Chris Ngige in the courts, even when people thought it was a waste of time to pursue such measures. 

He was impeached unlawfully and became the first to return from impeachment unscathed. Peter’s tenacity helped in enriching the democratic jurisprudence of the present Nigeria. His stewardship to Anambra state is there for anyone to go and verify. Currently, he is the Labour Party (LP) Presidential candidate, with amiable Dr Datti Baba- Ahmed as his running mate.

Abandoning all doubts, the ambition of the Labour Party duo is the best the country can afford now. I will not discredit other candidates who have also accomplished loads in their own rights, but age, ill health and lack of clear-cut agenda other than fulfilment of personal ambition to become President may not suffice this time. During Obama and McCain election duel, age and ill health was a substantial factor that tilted the votes in Obama’s favour. 

Even in the recent battle of septuagenarians between Trump and Biden, Trump tried hard to depict Biden as old and away with the fairies, while himself is still intact despite similar age because of his good genes! Nigeria cannot afford another President who is not “always aware” of the issues and challenges of governance.  We do not want another trappiest who will capture the Presidency like a game and delegate the butchers to do the needful, while he is raking in estacodes from medical tourism. We want a hands-on President who understands the economy and who has the temperament to unite the ethnic, religious and political divides in the country.

Louis Pasteur opined that “chance favors only the prepared mind”, Peter Obi has been prepared by both hard work and good fortune for this moment in Nigeria’s history.  He has done well as a business man, governor and patriot. He has elevated his political discourse to the highest decency, and has not yielded to the baits of his opposers who would want to link him to IPOB, MASSOB, BIAFRA, IGBO, HIDDEN AGENDA etc.  In the final analysis, the choice is clear. I thank God petrol pump price is the same everywhere in the country, cost of food items almost the same everywhere as well, and the value of naira is the same everywhere in Nigeria. If Peter wins, it will be doing equity to the South East by integrating them into the mainstream of the Nigeria governance, by doing this, we have nothing to lose other than our bad economy and failed security.  We will also have the opportunity to trust and test a Nigerian from South East extraction with the highest leadership position in modern Nigeria. I can bet that Peter and Datti will deliver on their electoral agenda if they translate their enormous goodwill and visibility into votes in 2023.

Dr. Ndubuisi Nwafor is the former Associate Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Nigeria Enugu Campus. [email protected]  08162371113.

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