By Agha Ibiam in London*
If nearly two decades the fourth republic or democracy was inaugurated in 1999 and South-east politicians cannot be supportive of each other’s political progress or ambition, then something is perpetually wrong somewhere. It also means that they have not learned from past mistakes.
The role played by South-east politicians in 1999 when former president Olusegun Obasanjo and former vice president, late Dr. Alex Ekwueme, among other candidates that contested the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primaries, could resonate itself in 2019.
At that time, some South-east prominent politicians because of money and futile promises lost their ‘mother tongue ‘and canvassed in Hausa language just because of their political dislike for Ekwueme near emergence as the PDP presidential flag bearer over Obasanjo that just came out from the prisons. Though Obasanjo had the full backing of the north at making him president. Nevertheless, some of the prominent Igbo politicians who could have rallied strong support for Ekwueme rather championed his fall.
Today that pull him down syndrome is fully back, as some South-east politicians in PDP, especially some governors are disgruntled because one of their own sons, former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi has been picked as a running mate to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the PDP presidential flag bearer for 2019 election.
Such a ludicrous scenario exhibited by some of these self-serving governors is pathetic and it appears some of them are so myopic and have failed to comprehend that life (including politics) is full of surprises, transient and no one can fathom it.
There is enough evidence to prove that some South-east politicians are notorious of casting aspersion at each other over a choice of a particular candidate other than themselves. I won’t doubt if some of the politicians from Igbo extraction have lost memory of how they plotted the downfall of their fellow senators in the national assembly from 1999-2013.
All the five South-eastern states produced a senate president. No wonder some of them are still meandering in search of relevance which probably will continue to elude them.
Ndigbo politicians, when will you learn to support your own people and delete the axiom of it must be me or no one else? A suggestion seem plausible here, learn from the former governor of Anambra State, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, who minced no words and said that the choice of Obi is a great one, adding that he was not wasteful in the management of resources while he severed as governor of Anambra State. Can this be said of the present governors in the South-east that are managing the affairs of the state as if it is their personal business?
Also, the director general of Atiku Presidential Campaign Organization (APCO), Mr. Gbenga Daniels, spoke eloquently about Obi’s choice, maintaining that he has the qualities capable of steering the country to the path of progress, economic prosperity and unity. Gbenga insisted that Obi’s option was also considered by his youthfulness, wider knowledge in global and local economics as well as being a financial expert and having the experience that Nigeria is in great need at the moment.
Since the choice of Obi’s running mate to Atiku, the attitudes of some of the South east governors towards Atiku/Obi merger has become irrational if not illogical. Other political zones in the country have since realised that it is only in Igbo land that the politicians will never be so united to champion a common course.
Dangle money or promise them juicy positions and they will be so disunited and brainwashed to sell their ‘birthrights’. Recently, Ekweremadu led some Igbo politicians to meet Buhari on the issue of second Niger Bridge.
The timing of that visit is tantamount to betrayal of his political party, the PDP. Again, just few days ago, the governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi accompanied president Buhari to Poland to attend the 24th session of the Climate Change Conference known as the Parties (COP24) when his own party was campaigning vigorously in Sokoto. What does this portray?
When the now vice president of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo was picked as running mate to President Muhammadu Buhari, South-west politicians spoke with voice, welcome the choice and worked assiduously towards their success. In fact, it was even the party chairman and former governor of Lagos State, Ahmed Bola Tinubu’s that personally executed that task of anointing Osinbajo.
The pungent question the displeased governors should ask themselves is Obi not our own and VC’s will Ndigbo produce in PDP? If the question demands no answer, then why fuming and fretting about his choice. If all that has been said that Obi has a wider knowledge in global and local economics as well as being a financial expert, then the more convinced the governors should throw their support for Atiku/Obi race.
It is assumed that this unconcern attitude of few of these politicians stemmed from the fact that Atiku had earlier promised them one thing or the other. Even if Atiku was alleged to have reached an agreement with some notable South-east politicians, perhaps, he did that as a sole candidate before the primaries. When he then emerged as the party’s flag bearer, the supremacy of the party came to bear on him to consult widely on the choice of his running mate.
In all honesty, Atiku couldn’t have made a better choice other than Obi. Reasons being that not even PDP need someone of Obi’s caliber to contribute in fixing the country’s ailing economy, but Nigerians as a whole. And if the country must develop, the people need those who can deliver irrespective of where he/she comes from.
More so, the issue that Atiku settled for Obi without consultation with other stakeholders in the party, mostly those of the South-east and South-south extractions should not be so critical an issue or subject matter at this point in time the country is at the verge of serious and near disintegration from all facets.
The more Atiku would have tried to reach out in the name of sampling governors’ opinion on the choice of running mate, the more he would have been confused as each governor will have something either in approval or disapproval of any candidate mentioned. Also, if the governors think they want to stay away from supporting Atiku/Obi presidential bid alleging that Atiku cannot be trusted, tell me, can the governors be trusted in their own states?
However, the party, I presume is not ruling out that the likes of deputy senate President, Ike Ekweremadu and the Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, will not make tangible contributions if they had been tipped for that position. For now, let their charity start at home. Suffice to suggest that Umahi should focus his efforts on the developmental plans in Ebonyi State by completing some of the projects calling for attention or he started; ensure workers, pensioners receive their wages and allowances as at when due; and adequate security of lives and properties, amongst others.
In all honesty, none of the governors who claimed that there were not consulted or their opinions not sought will categorically say that Obi will not be an achiever. As I said before, everything boils down to why should it be Obi of all people, and not me.
If selfish interest will culminate to PDP’s failure not to ‘root out’ APC government in 2019, then to their own shame. If it is the same APC government that has traumatised the people of South-east, is also the same party some governors wants to clandestinely support, the ‘palaver’ is their own. Let them be reminded that the first herdsmen killing and the python dance all started in Igbo land. If they will jettison their own person and support a president (Buhari) who claims ignorant of their calamities, then it is tragic.
The South-east governors (PDP States) should learn from the past, when in 1999 South-west vowed not to vote for Obasanjo/Atiku as president and vice president respectively. At the end, the duo emerged victoriously for eight years. The rest is history anyway.
Analysts claimed that no matter the offer by APC, possibly to evade trial from the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) or a promise to return to any political position of their choice in 2019, one thing that is crystal clear is that it will be tantamount to a dog returning to its vomit and they will ever leave to regret those actions in future. If politics has become a threat in Nigeria, whereby if you don’t support me or my party then I cripple you, then something is wrong and that is a clear demonstration that there is no rule of law from president Buhari who claimed he is now a democrat.
Touching on different issues, pundits also noted that it will be immature of the governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike to ditch his support for Atiku simply because he Nyesom never wanted Atiku to emerge as PDP flag bearer. But it is worthy of note to mention that among all the PDP contestants during the primaries, Atiku seems to have occupied a higher political position. However, good governance is not judged by how long one has served in a particular position, but how well the person delivered and provided the dividends of democracy that is long awaited by the people of Nigeria.
It is also strongly believed that PDP will be shooting themselves in the foot if they are not united and fight a common fight of enthroning a near better government that will take the country out of the woods.PDP should not give room for some of the South-east governors unintelligent dislike for Obi’s choice to ruin their future, as some Nigerians believes that Atiku will make a better leadership than Buhari.
If not for anything at least the restructuring of the country that has for long suffered under-development. More so, Atiku it is said to have learned from past experience and the mistakes of either himself or others.
By all standards, Obi’s choice has received wider commendation from many Nigerians. Even Atiku had emphatically noted that he chose Obi as running mate because Obi never asked for any favour when he was ‘recruited’ to support him during the party primaries.
Can any governor in the South-east beat his chest and say that he is a better candidate than Obi in terms of providing quality leadership, even if they occupy the state house for a third term?
If at all anyone should be aggrieved, it should have be those that contested with Atiku during the primaries. But Atiku’s co-contestants have even taken various responsibilities to support the winner of that contest.
Yes Ndigbo are in support of Obi’s choice, but some governors should have a rethink and wait for their turn. And for Atiku, whatever will be, will be. Reach out earnestly as Nigerians cannot afford to be governed by a man who is not sensitive to their plights.