With the declaration of the former Governor of Anambra State and former Vice-Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 general elections, Peter Obi, for the 2023 presidential elections, it is obvious that the coast is now clear for the Igbo to produce Nigeria’s president in the forthcoming 2023 general elections, with high hope that things have got to change for good for the people.
Many had wondered why Peter Obi played the second fiddle in 2019 when he is super qualified to steer the ship of state as president. His excellent managerial ability of state resources, and patriotic zeal devoid of undue politicking, cheating and deceit, is what Nigeria needs at this critical time. I have heard it said in a privileged meeting comprising mainly Yoruba elders that Peter Obi is one Nigerian you can give money to keep and nothing will happen to that money. Who else are we looking for when we have got such a rare gem?
With Nigeria bastardised and on the verge of disintegration if nothing is done urgently to redeem it, the country needs a leader who will not divide the country along tribal lines, in the words of the former Minister of Transport, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, in an interview published in The Guardian over the weekend. That man is Peter Obi who believes in Nigeria’s emancipation as a force to reckon with in the global arena.
The anomie and near-total collapse of the country have aroused apprehension as to what could be the redeeming force. Peter Obi’s declaration has satisfied the yearnings of millions of patriotic Nigerians who believe in impeccable character, incorruptibility, finesse, poise and astuteness, which define Peter Obi. His admirers have been wondering what he (Obi) was waiting for and why the delay in his declaration.
That Nigerians, who are genuinely committed to the survival of the country, are excited with Obi’s emergence in the ring is not in doubt, which is why he is already, noticeably, cruising to victory judging from the feelers from across the country. Patriotic Nigerians from across the country want him in the saddle. With him, there is nothing else that Nigeria would demand from the Igbo in terms of capable and ably qualified hands to manage Nigeria for a new breath of life after years of despoliation and suffocation of the masses.
If Nigerians really love their country and want it to survive, here comes the man who could start a new beginning in the scheme of things for a bright future. His track record is unquestionably clean and positive. It is not easy to defeat a champion, a superstar whom Peter Obi personifies; whom the masses of the people have virtually endorsed based, not on sentiments, but on concrete, verifiable and stellar achievements in different sectors of the economy.
Peer review assessments place Anambra as the most developed state in Nigeria outside Lagos. But while Lagos is a product of the Federal Government, Anambra’s feat is largely the product of Peter Obi’s administration.
The overwhelming endorsement by traditional rulers drawn from the 177 autonomous communities in Anambra State points to the large grassroots acknowledgement of his stellar performance, which he now wants to replicate across the country.
Peter Obi’s declaration under his political party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), did not mean that he should not be challenged. As a matter of fact, the excitement lies in the challenge and eventual victory for Obi irrespective of who is challenging him.
Given the vibrant political culture in Nigeria, victory at the poll captures huge euphoria than perhaps elsewhere. Reason is that there are always men and women of calibre who are ready to slug it out in the political arena. But despite all that, the people of Nigeria crave a president of Igbo extraction which Obi represents.
Expectedly, the lineup on the PDP platform has been reduced to a defeatable number. Obi is still on top. The main challengers are three and include former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, a veteran, who has been in the ring since this dispensation began. The fact that Atiku is Fulani and the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari is also Fulani puts a huge question mark on equity and fairness. Even though Buhari is of the All Progressives Congress (APC), while Atiku is PDP, the fact remains that he is Fulani of northern extraction.
The question that comes to mind is Nigeria the property of the Fulani. That being the case, the opposition to zoning by Atiku is futile for it would be extremely difficult to assuage southern Nigeria if the PDP makes the mistake to zone the presidency to the north.
If Atiku, the most formidable candidate from the north, is out of the equation, the contest narrows down to the two other PDP candidates who are Igbo. These include the former Senate president and former secretary to the government of the federation Anyim Pius Anyim and the founder and former CEO of Neimeth Pharmaceuticals Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa.
While any of these three could fill the gap of the president of Igbo extraction, it is hoped that a consensus would be reached amongst them to let one carry the flag. Who bears the flag would be settled amicably. Certainly, these patriotic Igbo would be happy to support Peter Obi if by consensus he is chosen.
Perhaps, the greatest challenge the Igbo would face on their journey to the presidency is the former Governor of Lagos State Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu (Jagaban), APC, from the southwest. Tinubu has emerged in the ring with all the powers available to him including the fact that he is probably the only APC candidate outside the Governor of Kogi State Yahaya Bello. Tinubu and his supporters are waxing decisions on zoning.
Be that as it may, the odds are much for Jagaban. The arguments against him rest on the fact that the Southwest zone has had eight years of presidency in Olusegun Obasanjo and another eight years in the incumbent Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
And so, just as Atiku, a Fulani cannot succeed Buhari for coming from the same ethnic group, Bola Ahmed Tinubu may not be able to succeed Buhari after the Southwest has had president and Vice president slots. The other zones would feel cheated with such an outcome.
As it were, it is only in the Southeast that a gnawing gap exists that needs to be filled. It is only the Southeast zone that has never produced a president since independence in 1960. The military administration of General John Thomas Aguiyi Ironsi, the only Igbo that has made attempt to be head of state was truncated by a military coup in 1966. Ever since then, the Igbo have been relegated to the background as far as the presidency is concerned.
A lot has been said about the marginalization of the Igbo in the leadership of Nigeria despite the overwhelming intellectual, technological and business acumen of the Igbo. The 2023 general election presents the most auspicious opportunity for lovers of Nigeria to play the Igbo trump card and get Nigeria back on track. The time to end the ruinous trajectory of Nigeria is now with a rare visionary like Peter Obi in the drivers’ seat.