Editor's note: Public commentator, Chidiebere Nwobodo, writes on the choice of former governor of Anambra state, Mr Peter Obi, as the vice presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the forthcoming 2019 general elections.
DISCLAIMER: I want to state categorically and emphatically that the essence of this piece is not to promote, defend or antagonise any of the groups and camps in southeast PDP caught in this thickening web of conspiracies, intrigues and shenanigans trailing the nomination of H.E Peter Obi as vice presidential candidate to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
I will make the following assertions as proud Igbo activist; who has invested a lot in the court of public opinion to defend collective interests of Igbos in the turbulent political ocean called Nigeria. I am apologizing in advance for those my blurt narrative may offend their sensibilities. I am Igbo before any political, state or clannish affiliation. When the leaders of thought in the zone have decided to condescend too low and bury their heads in the sand of parochialism - like a typical ostrich, someone must rise to the occasion, raise the moral olympian torch and lighten up the pathway of statesmanship.
History recycles itself, but out of acute amnesia, shortsightedness and selfish proclivities, men have failed to learn from it. Igbo nation is at crossroad again. We have embarked on political voyage of self-destruct and pull-him-down dirty game of thrones. Unfortunately, we have taken our stinking and dirty-ridden linens to the market square; in full public glare to wash - throwing decorum and dignity to the dogs. Who bewitched Igbos? Are we under a spell as a people? What is actually wrong with our type of politics? There is an Igbo adage that an elder does not sit in the house and watch a goat being strangulated by a rope. What happens when an elder - supposed custodian of morals, values, ethics and honour becomes the one desecrating the sacred altar of brotherhood and spirit of onye agha na nwanneya (be your brothers keepers)??
I received the appointment of Peter Obi as Atiku's running mate with mixed feelings, not because of his personality but ethno-religious considerations I highlighted in my previous article. I wanted the vice presidential slot to go to southwest for strategic political reasons. Atiku Abubakar has chosen his running mate from southeast for political reasons as well. All of us are bound to respect that decision. It is worthy of note to state that Peter Obi's nomination went down well with the masses beyond southeast. From reactions on social media, he is a popular choice; the right man for the job - square peg for a square hole; going by his curriculum vitae vis-a-vis his sterling track record. Business community across the country celebrated his pick. He is the economic maverick the nation needs now as vice presidential candidate.
READ ALSO: Jonathan reacts as south-east elders accuse Atiku of choosing Peter Obi without consultation
Southeast leaders of the PDP have strongly expressed reservations and utter disgust in reaction to the process that led to Peter Obi's emergence as Atiku's running mate. Their main grouse was that they were not consulted - by extension carried along in the decision that threw up former Anambra State governor as vice presidential candidate. They were ABSOLUTELY right to be angry and aggrieved. If I were in their shoes, I would have expressed disappointment for the fact that they heard the announcement on the social media like every other Nigerian. They should have been given firsthand information as stakeholders before it went public. From the grapevines, they're not happy with the choice of Peter Obi as Atiku's running mate. Peter Obi's style of politics and leadership are not in agreement with theirs. They said Obi is not a "team player." Its left for them to define the phrase "team player" to Igbo nation who are eagerly waiting for the explanation. They wouldn't have raised this type of faze in the polity, if it was not Peter Obi; even if they were not consulted as well.
Like I wrote above, they have the democratic right to express their anguish at the decision but the manner it was done and the extent they went in exercising that right, is what I am TOTALLY against, because of the far-reaching effects it will have on the political future of Igbo nation, especially when juxtaposed with aged-long, flawed perception that Igbos cannot speak with one voice. Firstly, the Ebonyi state governor, David Umahi goofed big time and betrayed the leadership entrusted on him by rushing to the media to vent his frustrations at the nomination, even before the southeast PDP stakeholders meeting held in Enugu. Any leader who cannot activate emotional intelligence at an auspicious period like this, has no business being in a position of leadership. This is not meant to denigrate his personality but stating the obvious truth not minding whose ox is gored.
The mind-boggling and thought-provoking questions and answers are: who is Peter Obi? Google his curriculum vitae. Is he unblemished - infallible? Like every other human, no. Is he an Igbo from southeast? Yes. Is he eminently qualified for the position? Yes. Will his candidacy brighten the PDP chances of winning the presidency? Yes. Is he the choice of Igbo masses? Yes. Does the views of the PDP stakeholders reflect the yearnings and aspirations of Igbo masses? No. Can his personality appeal to other non-Igbo Nigerians? Yes. Does he have any corruption baggage? No. Is vice presidential slot the only available position for others to take? No. Is he also going to defend the interests of southeast in particular and all Nigerians in general? Yes. If he becomes vice president by God's grace, will he assist Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to revive our recessed economy; cut down the cost of governance; create jobs for millions of unemployed and underemployed youths; pull millions out of extreme poverty; rebuild our dilapidated critical infrastructure; revamp ailing businesses and ultimately "Get Nigeria Working Again?" Absolutely yes. Then, what is the fuss all about?
I think that the major reason that influenced Atiku's choice to pick someone from southeast, against some political permutations, is to reward loyalty of Ndigbo in standing with the PDP during its trying times vis-a-vis the urgency to give southeast a sense of belonging, by allocating number two position to the zone, of which Igbos held last 30 years ago. Another factor I believe Waziri of Adamawa considered, is to pick someone who is on the same intellectual wavelength and ideological spectrum with him as co-pilot. It won't make sense to have someone who does not share your leadership visions as running mate, simply for political correctness and exigencies.
Imagine having someone as co-peddler on the same boat whose destination is in opposite direction with yours. While you will be peddling forward; he will peddle in a different direction. That is what stagnates a government and make it look clueless. Atiku Abubakar also rewarded Peter Obi's loyalty and sacrifices. It's on record that Atiku and Obi have been working on this presidential project for the last two years; even when some political pundits never gave him a chance of picking the PDP presidential ticket. When a potential running mate is competent and loyal, what else do you need. This narrative punctures the arguments of those who are alluding that the slot should have gone to a different camp in the party.
Atiku Abubakar and his running mate, Peter Obi should reach out to other stakeholders in southeast in quest to get everyone on board. Southeast PDP stakeholders, it is time to accept our son, bury the hatchet and collectively work for the victory of the party. We should not be seen as antagonising our illustrious son when he is being celebrated by others. It is an abnormality. All the grievances and misgivings can be handled in-house as "family affair" without playing into the hands of our enemies. Southeast PDP should also remember that they did not "consult" Igbo masses as well before expressing displeasure at the modus operandi that brought Peter Obi's vice presidential candidacy. What is at stake now if the PDP fails to stop the emerging tyrant in the villa, is too grievous for all to bear and better imagined than experienced. Igbos will be the highest victims of Buhari's third coming, if we allow parochialism to overwhelm the big picture. Once beaten twice shy.
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