Spotlight On Labour Party, 2023 Election, Peter Obi, Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed
By Acheoah Ofeh Augustine
In January 1914, one of the greatest events of British colonialism took place in West Africa when Sir Fredrick Lord Lugard (a British Consul) amalgamated (hitherto separate Kingdoms, emirates) Northern and Southern Protectorates and the Colony of Lagos to become Nigeria. That amalgamation, though described as the mistake of 1914 by Sir Ahmadu Bello’, remained the greatest source of our national strength bringing three of the largest ethnic groups in Africa Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo and over 250 ethnic minorities into the multiethnic federation. The amalgamation of 1914 is not the mistake but the failure of generation of leaders including the colonial elites to unite the heterogeneities of ethnic nationalities as one nation. Nigeria became an Independent nation on October 1st 1960 and the 99th Sovereign state within the UN membership on 7th October 1960. At independence the country adopted the Parliamentary system modeled after the Westminster Parliamentary system of Britain from 1960 to 1966.
Following the return to civil rule on 1st October 1979, Nigeria adopted the Presidential system of government modeled after the United States’ with the view to avoid the constant friction antecedent between the Prime Minister and the titular President. Thus the Executive President came into the Nigerian political lexicon with Alhaji Shehu Shagari and Dr. Alex Ekwueme of the NPN Platform as the first President and Vice from 1979 until December 1983 when the military struck after 4 years of civilian rule. Nigeria entered the second 16 years interregnum after the1966-1979 (13 years) interregnum until 29 May 1999 when the last military administration of General A. Abubakar handed over to President Olusegun Obasanjo-Atiku of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
The Presidency and the President are unique in many statutory, legal, symbolic and diplomatic as well as strategic standpoints. This is central in a clime where opposition politics without decorum has seen remarks that suggest wrong view of the office of the President and the President. The Presidency although the second in the order of the Constitutional establishment of the three arms of governments, the President is the most visible of all government officials as did Prime for the enormous functions and responsibilities attacked to the office. The Congress is the first created under Article I, and the Presidency Article II before the Courts Article III.
The need for the establishment of the office of the President became compelling in the United States at the early years of the nation as the Continental Congress could not meet the governance needs amid emergent crises in some states. This Continental Congress functioned temporarily as the government of America but proved inadequate and could not meet the unfolding leadership demands with tensions between some of the 13 former colonies particularly after the Shays’ rebellion’ from August 29, 1786-and February 1787. As a result, Constitutionalists and Federalists (A. Hamilton, J. Jay, and Adams, J.) were pushing for a written Constitution, the creation of a Central government, the Presidency, the Congress.
The eye of the modern sovereign states, the President is both the Head of State and Head of the Government. The President has an array of explicit power including the appointment of Service chiefs and acting as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. He negotiates and signs treaties however they are subject to Parliamentary ratification to take effect of Law.
Diplomatically, a hand shake from our President can open new doors of opportunity for the nation, normalize severed diplomatic relations, end war between two nations. Wherever the President stands in the world, it is Nigeria that is standing, a symbol of Nigeria’s international personality- (Acheoah O. A. August 2022)
The President appoints Justices of the Supreme Court including the Chief Justice of the Federation subject to advice from the Nigerian Judicial Council and consent of the Senate, Whenever the Parliament is in recess, the President can make temporal appointments. In fiscal terms, the President prepares the Federal budget (Appropriation Bill which incorporates all the budgets of MDAs. The President appoints heads of federal agencies and public services. The President has leverage over the judicial arm of government with array judicial oversights through power of Executive Clemency through which he can grant pardon and commute federal sentences. By altering the terms of punishments pronounced against offenders the President checks the judicial arm particularly where a miscarriage of justice is pervasive. Presidential directives when gazette takes the force of law among other things.
LABOUR PARTY IN PERSPECTIVES
The emergence of Political parties in Nigeria dates back to 1923 when the Nigerian National Democratic Party was formed by Sir Albert Macaulay following the introduction of a limited Elective Principle under the Clifford Constitution of 1922. The Party elected members into the Lagos Legislative Council and won three seats in the 1923, 28 and 1933 Council elections. The Party remained dominant in Lagos which together with Calabar where the only areas the elective right principle was limited to until the emergence of the Nigerian Youth Movement in 1938. In 1964, following the internal party schism within the Action Group, Late Ladoke Akintola adopted the name to challenge Action Group faction led now by Alhaji D.S. Adegbenro.
Founded in 2002, the Labour Party is underpinned on Social Democratic political worldview with the slogan: Forward Ever’. The Party controls 2 seats in the House of Representatives and 1 Senatorial Seat. Labour Party’s National Headquarters is located at No 29 OKEAGBE Street, off Samuel Ladoke Akintola Boulevard, Garki II, and Abuja. The Labour Party was created as a successor Party to Party for Social Democracy (PSP).
The Party changed its name to Labour Party with the aims to promote and defend social democratic principles and Ideals for the purpose of achieving social justice, progress and unity. On 27 May 2022, the Party’s membership grew dramatically following the emergence of former Governor of Anambra State CITIZEN PETER GREGORY OBI who peaceably resigned from the Peoples Democratic Party citing concerns of lack of internal democracy in their upcoming Presidential Primary. For his vision about Nigeria which he saw could only be realized under a different platform from his former Party ‘the Peoples Democratic Party’ under which he contested the 2019 Vice Presidential seat alongside former Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
Since the emergence of former Governor Peter Obi as the Presidential candidate of Labour Party, the popularity of the Party has soared significantly, attracting flurry of subjective criticism from critics many of whom ‘the disciplined Onitsha born politician neither lose respect for nor lose political temperament on even if he disapproves of their claims against his ambition to lead the nation to its Ideal place. His unifying and pacific political languages with which he retorted to remarks from ‘Obi-Pessimist’ reveals the shrewdness of a political elite who has learned from the nation’s past, avoiding the mainstream adversarial political languages that festers of politics of bitterness and opposition politics without decorum that had been a major character of Nigerian politics since the return to Civil Rule in 1999.
The Party survived leadership schism following the death of its National Chairman, Late Alhaji Abdulkadir Abdulsalam in 2020. Barrister Julius Abure was elected the Party National Chairman who prior held the post of the Party Secretary to replace the Late Alhaji Abdulkadir Abdulsalam in 2021. Peter Obi’s emerged the Labour Party standard bearer from a non-acrimonious compromise among three Labour Party aspirants: Professor Pat Utomi, Fadun Joseph and Olubusola Emmanuel-Tella who stepped down for Obi as provided for under the Electoral Act 2022.
The Party fielded Alhaji Muhammed Usman Zaki as Presidential Candidate alongside Chief Ezekiel Apkan as his running mate in the 2019 Presidential election. . In the gubernatorial election of 2007 in Ondo State the Party fielded successfully, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko who emerged the winner with 226,051 votes in a political dispensation dominated by two major Parties. The Party leadership sees 2023 as its Season and auspicious time to thrust the Party’s vision into the national political roadmap for a new Nigeria, a vision for which the Peter Obi-Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed’s ticket is bided to deliver come 25th February 2023.
As ‘a Social Democratic leaned Party’ which synthesize the economic and philosophy within socialism with the view of given the political and economic power to the people, Social intervention is one of the policy prospects of the Labour Party whereby government promote social justice within mainstream liberal democratic and capitalist arrangement.
There is doubt that Peter Obi’s emergence revolutionized the Labour Party’s ranking and nationwide acceptability, described in some quarters as the Third Force’ between two major Political Party: the ruling APC and the Peoples Democratic Party.
“If the Obi-Datti Baba-Ahmed Labour Party ticket made it through to Aso Rock come 25th February 2023, it will change the Paradigm of Nigerian Political landscape of a single Party that emerges to win an incumbent Alliance Party since in Nigerian Political History (being that APC, is an alliance of three major Political Parties in 2013: ACN, ANPP and CPC (rather than a single party) with factions of PDP (the n-PDP) and APGA led by Rochas Okorocha camp, emerged the first winning Coalition in Nigeria since 1964 when the political Parties grouped into two major alliances: the UPGA and NNA out of which a stalemate led to a broad based national government by all political parties in the exception of Action Group. The former Governor of Lagos State, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Presidential Aspirant of the ruling Party championed the first winning Coalition Party from the progressive camp in 2015.
Born on 19 July 1961 (age 61) in the West African commercial city of Onitsha, Peter Gregory Obi graduated from the prestigious University of Nigeria Nnsuka and became a young entrepreneur being born into a trading family. Peter Obi rose to the corporate world with track records in corporate businesses both banking and non-Banking sectors. Before entering mainstream politics, Peter Obi served as Chairman of Fidelity Bank, Chairman and Director of Guardian Express Mortgage Bank Ltd, Guardian Express Mortgage Bank PLC.
Anambra is like Ogun State in Western Nigeria is unique in many respects when it comes to the Igbos in national politics of Nigeria dating back to the late 1930s: Anambrans are the cockpit of Igbo in mainstream Nigerian politics with a list of leading political figures in First and Second Republic Nigeria such as Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe through the NCNC-NPP Platforms and Dr. Alex Ekwueme through the NPN Platform (The Shagari-Ekwueme NPN ticket that emerged the First Executive Presidency on 1st October 1979. It will be an omission of history if this article bypassed one of the Nigerians greatest patriots: Late Dame Odumegwu Ojukwu, one of Nigerians pre-independence Officers who in spite of his influential background settled to defend the territories of corporate Nigeria to the Chagrin of his father L.P. Ojukwu but found himself caught in between the trial days of our national lives. Ojukwu never anticipated Nigeria will go through what it went through from 1966-1970 when he joined the Colonial Army in 1957 with the military enlistment number N29.
This is crucial because Peter Obi undeniably is a political protégé of Dame Odumegwu Ojukwu (1933-2011) under the APGA platform under whose nurture he developed political discipline he has shown amid waves of criticism against his ambition, he remained calm, respectful to critics while never losing the vision and focus of the Nigeria he hoped to deliver come 25th February 2023.
“ Late Odumegwu Ojukwu has argued that it is not true that the Igbos don’t believe in Nigeria as they have spread across villages of Nigeria but only seeks to live in a post-War Nigeria of equal-right bearing citizenry, a virile, inclusive and united country, challenging the “No Victor No Vanquish post War mantra’ while indigenes from the region are yet to be elected Executive President since Independence.
President Mohammadu Buhari corroborated Ojukwu’s view during his official visit to Southeast noting that “It is unthinkable that any Igbo man wants to exit Nigeria’. Speaking at Oweri Town Hall meeting with South East Leaders, President Muhammadu Buhari affirmed:
“…It will be unthinkable for me that any Igbo man would consider himself not be part of Nigeria. The evidences are there for everyone to see that Igbos are in charge of Nigeria’s economy…There is no town you will visit in Nigeria without seeing the Igbos being in charge of economic activities” -President Mohammadu Buhari (9 September 2021)
After the 18 May 1982 Presidential amnesty, Ojukwu joined the politics from Ivory Coast in June. He contestant a senatorial seat, formed the Ikemba Front to retake Anambra from the then NPP led by Jim Nwobodo. In an interview, Ojukwu noted that the War left the People of the Southeast with ‘a siege mentality’ he saw that was Psychologically isolating and wage a campaign that the Igbos come out and joined the project for a new Nigeria. Ojukwu contested the 2003 and 2007 Presidential election. In one of his final political remarks before he passed on, he called on the Anambra People to vote Peter Obi for second term as his son, adding that If truly there was no victor no Vanquished as the post-war reconciliatory mantra claimed, let an Igbo man be elected President of Nigeria”.
In 2003, Citizen Peter Obi entered active politics, contested the 19 April 2003 Anambra gubernatorial election under the APGA ticket and saw his opponent Present Minister of Labour Dr. Chris Ngige unlawfully declared the Winner with 452,820 questionable votes. A believer of justice, Obi crusaded his grievances through constitutional means and after three years of post-election disputes, his mandate from the Anambra People was restored to his abeyance. Obi assumed Office in 2006.
The above events bring to bear, the crisis of electoral justice whereby wrongful winners are sworn into office while litigants await final judgment on electoral litigations. Anambra like many other states consequently had a scattered electoral calendar and term of office time table from the national schedule. Others include Edo (after the Oshomole-Osunbo post election battle), Ondo, Kogi and Osun States.
Political rigging came to be umbrella concept for a cacophony of electoral malfeasances including the following unlawful acts: Under-aged voting, multiple voting, vote buying, snatching of ballot boxes, intimidation of voters and electoral officials, dereliction of duties by INEC officials and security agencies assigned to maintain order and proper conduct, to falsification of election results from polling units to state levels, denying opponents’ supporters free access to vote, voting by unregistered citizens, impersonation in voting when not qualified, voting by aliens and non-Nigerians (Cross-border voters), all of which are criminalized under Sections 119, 124, 125 of the Electoral Act 2022. For example the improper uses of voters card is criminalized under Section 117 of the Electoral Act while Section 125 and 126 penalize offenses committed on Election Day (disorderly conducts in the election process). The Electoral Act 2022 remained a Milestone achievement of President Mohammadu Buhari as it addresses the many questions of electoral misgovernance in Nigeria Particularly drawing from lessons from Zamfara where a blanket ruling went against the ruling party for not properly conducting its Primaries in that state.
On 15 March 2006, Obi’s first electoral Victory was judiciously restored when a Court of Appeal overturned Chris Ngige’s victory and return the People’s Mandate to Obi. Peter Obi was sworn in as Governor of Anambra State on 17 March 2006. Seven months into his assumption of office he was impeached under questionable circumstances by the Anambra State House of Assembly and was replaced by his deputy Honorable Virginia Etiaba. By that event, Nigeria has its first female governor in a male dominated political society.
Peter Obi challenged his impeachment and won second legal victory when he was re-instated Governor of Anambra State on 9 February 2007 by the Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu after which Mrs. Etiaba handed over back to him.
In 2007, Obi secured another legal victory the third time when the Supreme Court when Obi challenge the emergence of Andy Uba noting that his tenure began in March 2006 from whence it suppose to end in March 2010. The apex court in the land upheld Obi’s contention and gave a ruling nullifying Andy Ubah’s 14 April 2007 electoral victory and held that Obi’s four year’s tenure should end by March 2010.
In 2010, Obi emerged the winner of the Anambra gubernatorial election defeating former CBN Governor and incumbent Governor of Anambra Professor C.C. Soludo. On 17 March 2014, Peter Obi handed over to his successor Hon Willlie Obiano.
Obi’s post-gubernatorial public assignments saw him appointed the Chairman of the Nigerian Stock Exchange Commission (SEC) in 2015 before the exit of that administration. On 12 October 2018, former governor Peter Obo emerged running mate to Alhaji Abubakar Atiku under the PDP platform and they came second in that election.
On 24 March 2022, Peter Obi declared his ambition to contest the 2023 Presidential election under the PDP Platform however, for principle and the visions he had for a new Nigeria, he officially resigned from PDP and joined the Labour Party. An adherent of due process and Politics without bitterness, Peter G. Obi on 24 May 2022 wrote to the leadership of PDP communicating his resignation intent, citing premonition of non-adherence to internal democracy. Obi became the consensus candidate for the Labour platform when three aspirants Professor Pat Utomi and two others stepped down for him inline of the Electoral Act 2022 which provides for consensus candidacy insofar as all the aspirants agree.
On 8 July 2022, Peter Obi officially unveiled Senator Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed his running mate under the Labour Platform for the 25th February 2023 Presidential election. Unveiling his running mate, the former Anambra State Governor submits:
“…This is our right to secure, unite and make Nigeria productive and you can’t do that without the People who have today o present to you. God’s willing Nigeria’s next Vice President in the person of Senator Yufuf Datti Baba-Ahmed”
Born 7 July 1969 (Age 53), Senator Datti-Baba-Ahmed hails from Kaduna State. He served as a Senator represented Kaduna North District from 2011 to 2012, Zaria Federal Constituency from 2003-2007. A graduate of University of Maiduguri, Datti Baba-Ahmed was also a successful entrepreneur in corporate businesses and banking before joining politics in same 2003 at Federal level wining the 2003 Zaria Federal House of Representative election and was one of the vociferous critics against the Third Term Agenda like at the lower Chamber of the National Parliament. A believer in the role of education in nation building Baba-Ahmed founded Base University. In 2011, he ran for the Kaduna North Senatorial election. His victory was overturned and he left the Senate in 2012. Senator Baba-Ahmed made an unsuccessful push for the 2019 PDP Presidential ticket. In 2022 he emerged the Labour Party vice Presidential candidate, for the February 25th Presidential election.
One of the most interesting fact about the 2023 election is that it will one of the most competitive elections in 21st Century Nigeria with big political heavyweights running including a four times contender (See) Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who ran for the 2007 under the AC, the 2011 under the ACN, the 2019 under PDP is ruining for the 2023, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the ruling APC who championed the first winning alliance from the Progressive (AD, ACN camp in 2013) and former Governor Peter Obi who many see as a force, ‘A Third Force’ who equally has all it takes to give the Nigerian people a Nigerian of their dream judging from his tracks and political antecedents from Anambra State.
Obi has been able to sustain his fame amid baseless criticism against his candidacy, straddling the ethno-regional boundaries of the nation. Some say it is a virtual popularity or social media clout, but the world has since become a virtual village.
Obi is a recipient of numerous awards including:
i. The Zik Leadership Prize (2011);
ii. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Best Performing Governor on Immunization in The South East Nigeria (2012);
iii. The Silver bird Man of the Year (2013;
iv. TheDistinguished Award Lagos Business School Association LBSAA 2014;
v. This Day’s Governor of the Decade (2020).
Some Critics argued that he is only popular on twitter/social media, others ambiguously held that he lacks the needed political structure yet, the disciplined politician who is freed off the adversarial politics of bitterness and politics of opposition without decorum, has been able to keep his tone of riposte and retortion not to fall into the pit of the primordial inter-elite and inter-party acrimonies that had pushed Nigeria to the brink in the past. Peter Obi knew and believed that ‘no matter what effort to discredit him, his unblemished antecedent will speak for him, called on his supporters, I called them ‘Obi-optimists’ and some analysts described them as ‘OBEDIENTS’ to let him respond to comments on him so as to avoid falling into the waters of opposition politics of bitterness and without decorum.
In a riposte to criticism that he lacks structure, Peter Obi, painted a picture of potential structure from the Nigerian peoples, the marginalized, neglected populations from across all voting age brackets, ethno-regional and religious affiliations, bound by a collective sense of rejection and injustices and the misgoverned. He retorted:
“…Whenever I hear of ‘NO STRUCTURE’, my answer to it is simple: the 100 million Nigerians that live in poverty will be the structure, the, 35 million Nigeria who don’t know where their next meal will come from will be the structure, the Elderly, our mothers, fathers and the Old one dying of being owed gratuity, pensions will be the structure. ASUU the lecturers that are being owed and students who are not in School will be the structure. We will create the structure and they will see what the Structure is all about. The structure is about human beings” –Peter Obi 2022
Responding to remark by former Vice President Aljaji Abubakar Atiku, the Presidential standard bearer of PDP that ‘it will take only miracle for Peter Obi to win the 2023 Presidential election, peter Obi replied:
“Miracle is the root of our faith…So I am looking forward to the next miracle”
In a generation where discipline has no place in inter-elite political relations, Obi’s affirmed:
“…Atiku remains my respected brother. I don’t tell other respected people including my family because I didn’t want people to take me out of it. I did it in the best interest of my future and the future of Nigerians”
Peter Obi, a believer of Politics without bitterness espoused by Late Alhaji Waziri Ibrahim, called on his supporters to allow him respond to criticism from his political opponents:
“I am most sincerely appreciating all my supporters those LP. I have you all…I wish to appeal to you to allow me to personally respond to any candidate that makes comment on issue to promote our cause of moving our dear Nigeria from consumption, create jobs and generally evolve a better Nigeria-PO”
One of the flurry ‘Obi-pessimist remarks’ is the submission that Peter Obi can only be President in Igbo land, sending worries about the dearth of decorum in opposition politics. Obi has worked and is still working for success. Mandela said:
“It always seem impossible until it is done”
Winston Churchill’s quote is instructive at this juncture:
“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity (while)the optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty” –Winston Churchill 1874-1965.
These remarks are symptomatic of underdeveloped political culture, dysfunctional political socialization, recruitment and mobilization and lay to bare one of the constraints to democratization in Nigeria. Before their emergence, it is assumed they all qualified to contest from their various parties after satisfying the electoral requirement to vie for the Office of the First Citizen: The Presidency. Nigerians would love to hear from the contestants what they have for them while the ultimate deciders are the electorate.
Section 131 of the 1999 Constitution affirmed the right and political equality of any of the over 250 ethnic nationalities to vie for the Presidency if he/she meets certain statutory requirements: is a citizen of Nigeria; attain age 35 and above; belongs to a political Party and is being sponsored by that Party; and has educated to at least School certificate. These civic provisions is envisaged for all the equal-rights bearing citizens of Nigeria.
The only conditions under which a citizen can be disqualified is when he is found guilty of one of the following offenses:
i. They voluntarily acquire citizenship of a country other than Nigeria; or made declaration of allegiance to the other country;
ii. Have been elected to such office at any two previous elections;
iii. Under the law of any part of the country adjudged to be a lunatic; or otherwise declared to be of unsound mind ;
iv. They are under death sentence imposed by a competent Court of Law or tribunal in Nigeria;
v. Within less than ten years before the date of election to the office the President, they have been convicted and sentenced for an offence involving dishonesty or have been found guilty of the contravention of the code of conduct;
vi. They are undischarged bankrupt under any law in force in Nigeria or any other country;
vii. Being a person employed in civil or public service of the Federation or of any State or have not resigned, withdrawn or returned from the employment as least thirty days before the date of election, indicted of embezzlement or fraud by Judicial Commission of Enquiry or an Administrative Panel of inquiry or a Tribunal set up under the Tribunal of enquiry Act;
viii. They have been presented a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Nigeria is a multi-Party state with competitive elections since the First Republic saves for Third Republic when the General Babangida led military administration duopolizes the party system between SDP/NRC. It expected every Party and their candidates bring before Nigerians what they have for them and convince the electorate on why they are the best to be entrusted with their mandates in abeyance rather than tearing down or attacking image of a fellow citizen who is deemed qualified by the electoral body. The people will judge at the Poll whom they believe can deliver the Nigeria they aspire.
As Mitt Romney remarked while addressing his supporters after he loss to Obama in November 2012, the elections will be come and go yet the nation (Nigeria) and the Principle (democracy) will endure.
Politicians should be magnanimous in victory and philosophical in defeat. The office of the President we borrowed from the United States was first created in 1789 out of flet need due to the inadequacies of the Articles and the Continental Congress that functioned temporally as the government of the newly founded nation. Presidency had remained the most disputing sphere in the inter-ethnic and inter-regional power relations in Nigeria. We must change the paradigm by respecting the equal right of access to Presidential succession as envisaged under Section 131 of the 1999 Constitution. Nigeria is a multiethnic Federation.
“Diversity makes us what we are, our crises stems from the mismanagement of diversity”-Former President Olusegun Obasanjo
Nigeria is a home to over 250 of the World’s 370 million indigenous ethnic minorities that UNDRIP 2007, a universalistic framework seeks to protect and preserve under (A/RES/61/295) ‘a comprehensive international instrument on the rights of Indigenous people which include their political rights.
As the election draws near political aspirants must embrace and promote the culture of peace before, during after the February 25th 2023 Presidential election.
The most abhorrent criticism on Peter Obi’s Presidential ambition as his electoral popularity soars is the remark that ‘Obi can only be President in Igbo land’, a statement which presupposes that two sovereign states exist within the Nigerian political territory. These remarks exude and are vestigial of politics of bitterness that the Great Alhaji Waziri Ibrahim of GNPP spoke against when he coined the popular phrase: “Politics without Bitterness”.
There must always be a common ground to accommodate others in a multiethnic political society like Nigeria. For instance, it was to mend fences in the wake of the 1964 Constitutional Crisis between Azikiwe and Balewa over the control of the military among other things, that Late Sir Tarfawa Balewa settled for Brigadier JTU Ironsi as the successor of the General Christopher Welby-Everald (1909-1996) when the Nigerianization of the Army began among the trio: Brigadiers J.T.U Ironsi, Zakariya Maimalari, and S.A. Ademulegun.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo for instance appointed the son of Late General Aguiyi Ironsi his defense Minister 40 years after Ironsi’s demise, appointed Murtala Muhammed son Abba Muhammed, his Special Adviser, brought Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to run with Late Musa Yar Adua, becoming the first minority to become Vice President elected in a civilian dispensation in a country where politics of Presidential succession is dominated by three major ethnic groups around over 250 ethnic minorities.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo in a remark at a lecture titled: “Overcoming the twin evil of Poverty and Insecurity in Nigeria” called on Nigerians to make the right choice as they prepare for the 25th February 2023 Presidential election:
“…It is either we make the right choice in 2023 because If we make the right choice, we would get there. However, if we do not make the right choice in 2023, things would consume us and we pray against that…We must make the right choice in 2023…Nigeria is not where it supposed to be today. If anyone says it is ok where we are at the moment, then the person’s head needs to be examined”
When one looks at poverty in Nigeria amids plenty, what comes to mind from the political economy standpoint is socio-economic inequality the people caught by the rolling back of the state in public services, public corporation are fading off to align with neo-imperialist institutions prescription such as the IMF and World Bank conditionalities for loans sought to fund local projects which often are diverted to the coffers of the elites. When Hillary Clinton paid an official visit to Nigeria and remarked that there is large impoverished population in Nigeria because there is a disconnect between the nations wealth and poverty, a Senate President then rebutted her un-empathically that he is not fair in her remarks, that poverty is not new to Nigeria. That Nigeria is full of political elites without capacity for empathy is one of the factors behind misrepresentation in leadership.
Professor, Eghosa Osagae, the Director General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NII), in his submission, linked corruption to poverty and insecurity, that the state is abandoning its ideal roles in this part of the world:
‘Many people today dig their boreholes for water, employ private Security Units, etc. Yet these are things the state should have put in place”
Worried about debt sustainability , the stability of the naira amid foreign exchange instability, the former Chairman Fidelity Bank, and Labour Party Presidential candidate recommends investment spending as the raison d’ etate for borrowing rather than consumption spending:
“…As a matter of urgency, Nigeria must stop borrowing for consumption, but only borrow to invest in regenerative development projects and other productive ventures…it’s ironic that state that received fiscal bailouts did not repay the loans and are still borrowing beyond their revenue earnings…It has also become imperative to restrict federal borrowing to the statutory five per cent of the previous year’s revenue”
The crises in 21st Century Nigerian state cannot be separated from economic mismanagement, recent flurry of reports from the finance ministry indicate shortfall in revenues relative to expenditures created borrowing requirement to augment. Nigeria became ‘heavily indebted Poor Country under the International Financier’s classification of some group of African countries. Fiscal indiscipline and overdependence on Oil revenue amid fiscal profligacy are not exempted from the crunch. Why the CBN failed to forecast this crisis before time reminds pundits of distractions from a CBN Governor who is entrusted with the apex wing of monetary policy but whose focus was in Aso-Rock as Naira falls historically to a depth never seen.
Presidential elections should not be a do-or-die affair. Who loses today may emerge tomorrow in so far as there is fairness, and free and credible poll, the will of the people must be respected as Buhari has shown over Osun gubernatorial poll calling on the winner Ademola Adeleke of the Opposition Party (PDP) to congratulate him noting the will of the Osun People has been express and must be respected. That’s a testament of the reformed democrats he spoke of himself when flurry of his era as military dictator dominates the media in the build up to the 2015 poll. In his congratulatory message to the Osun people and the winner, President Mohammadu Buhari noted:
“…I congratulate Senator Ademola Adeleke, candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), on his victory in the Osun gubernatorial election…the People of Osun have expressed their will through the ballot. This is what democracy is about; respect for the will of the people” –President Mohammadu Buhari (July 2022)
In a speech titled: “Prospect for Democratic Consolidation in Africa: Nigeria’s Transition” President Mohammadu Buhari affirmed that while he canot change the past era as a former military dictator, he is ready to subject to the principles of democracy repentantly opined:
“…Let me say without sounding defensive that dictatorship goes with military rule, though some might be less dictatorial than others. I take responsibility for whatever happened under my watch. I cannot change the past. But I can change the present and the future…So before you is a former military ruler and a converted democrat who is ready to operate under democratic norms and is subjecting himself to the rigors of democratic elections for the fourth time…I will continue to promote the consolidation of democracy in our great country, Nigeria, by guaranteeing that the media’s freedom is not compromise in any way…” President M. Buhari (2015)
President Mohammadu Buhari remain a historic example of Presidential aspirant who never gave up until he emerged in 2015 after running for the 4th time during which he picked two running mates from Southeast: Late Chiwuba Okadigbo (secured 12,710,022 votes/32%) and Edwin Ume-Ezeoke. Former Vice President Atiku is contesting for the 4th time. Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, one of the NADECO dissidents who also contributed greatly to the return of the military back to barracks after the second 16 years interregnum is running for the First time under the APC Platform as did Peter Obi also for the first time as Presidential candidate under the Labour Party. The beauty of the season is that Nigerian multipartyism is evolving. The players must adhere to the rules of the game and the tenets of the Principle as ideal sportsmen. They must appeal to issues rather than sentiments that tear Nigerians along primordial lines. There are many more elections upcoming as there will ever be hence the saying that they be magnanimous in victory and philosophical in defeat.
The supporters of the Obi-Baba-Ahmed Labour tickets are saying the team can deliver the Ideal Nigeria if given the mandate come 25th February 2023. The rest is history as the electorate set to decide who next leads the affairs of the Nigerian state after President Mohammadu Buhari’s second term ends come 29 May 2023.
“Presidential Elections come and go, but the Principle of the nation endures -(Mitt Romney Republican nominee (November 2012)
As the election draws near, all Presidential aspirants must ensure they embrace peace and remained law abiding before, during and after elections.
“THE POLITICAL ELITES MUST PACIFY, DE-ETHNICIZE AND DEMOCRATIZE THE POLITICS OF PRESIDENTIAL SUCCESSION IN NIGERIA–Acheoah Ofeh Augustine ( August 2022).