By Tai Emeka Obasi
Somehow, and for obvious reasons, a lot of followers of the former two-term governor of Anambra State waited for his visit to Rivers State with so much anticipation. Some of the followers who do not know the man we also call Okwute quite well were expecting ‘fire for fire’ but others that know him well enough understood the kind of ‘fire’ he was going to return.
First, you could accurately predict what was coming from the man at the centre of attraction presently in Nigerian politics when his very close ally, Dr. Doyin Okupe, while Introducing him, indicated the PDP Presidential aspiration was a family affair and in the case of aspirants from Southern Nigeria, a brotherly one.
When HE Peter Obi took over the microphone, he started by expressing his gratitude to the governor of Rivers State, HE Nyesom Wike for his magnamity in permitting him to come to his state to talk to PDP delegates, even when he’s equally an aspirant. He acknowledged the fact that if the leader of the party in the state wanted, he wouldn’t have given the permission, “and there’s no way I would have been here,” he continued.
“He even wanted me to reschedule my coming so that he could be present here also but knowing the very tight schedules we all operate in these times, I had to thank him for the gesture, then decided to make it today.
“Let me go further to appreciate him immensely for his very visible achievements in Rivers State, especially in areas of infrastructure. Anyone practically offering efforts to make a place better than he met it should be appreciated,” he concluded on his host governor.
Then the vice presidential candidate of the PDP in the 2019 election went further to characteristically hold the delegates-filled hall spellbound.
He told them Nigeria’s problems, backing up with statistical data. He told them that one of the major reasons we found ourselves in the deplorable state we are is because we borrowed for consumption instead of production. He made them understand how he would turn things around if given the opportunity. He told them why cutting costs of governance is a major step in managing the decay.
“When you don’t have enough money, you cut down your expenditure to be able to cope. But we don’t do it in our dear country. Instead we have been borrowing and consuming to the point we’re using almost all the revenue we earn to service debts. It’s not acceptable!”
He told them how he cut costs of governance as governor of Anambra State to not only effectively achieve for the state but also saved and left behind something reasonable enough for his succeeding government to continue with.
He told them more, ending up with, ‘this election is not about Peter Obi or any other aspirant. It’s about saving our country. It’s about putting the pictures of your children before you as you make your decision to choose your party candidate and ask, ‘what will be their future with the decision I’m taking today of who becomes the next Nigerian president?’
“You have to ask that question because the society we abuse today will definitely take its revenge on our children and grandchildren. Thank you.”
Everyone in the hall stood to applaud for over a minute. He exhibited humility and respect deserving of a president. He earned respect. And he made new friends. The response of the party chairman, HE Amb. Desmond Akawor summed up the mood in the hall.
When you looked at the body language of the delegates, you clearly saw that Nigerians desire a new country. Will these delegates take that required bold step? Time will definitely tell.