By Dickson Okafor
Igwe Gerald Obunadike Mbamalu, Eze Oranyelu 1, Eze Ojoto the 111 in Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State has commended leaders of Afenifere, a Pan-Yoruba Socio-Political Organisation especially Chief Ayo Adebanjo for declaring support for the presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi for 2023 Presidential election.
The monarch said it is indeed the turn of the Igbo to produce the next President of Nigeria, regretting that the South-East has not been supported to ascend the number one position in the country since 1960.
Igwe Mbamalu said Peter Obi is the liberator Nigerians need in 2023 and gave reasons why Peter Obi is more competent and credible than the other candidates in the presidential race.
As a royal father, what is your advice to political parties and politicians as they campaign to convince the electorate to vote for their candidates?
First, I give glory to Almighty God for preserving Nigeria as a united and indivisible country in spite of the security challenges we are facing as a nation. No doubt, we may have our differences yet, Nigeria is a land of free and brave people. My advice to politicians as they campaign to garner votes is to imbibe the spirit of patriotism. They must place national interest above their individual interests because there must be Nigeria as a country before there can be leaders to lead it. They should choose platform that can guarantee victory. They should shun campaign of calumny against their opponents. Also, the candidates should be persons who have worked selflessly for the people. As it stands now, the electorate are no longer interested in the political parties but on the antecedents of the candidates. This time, they don’t want to hear well drafted manifestos, all we want is a competent, credible and capable person to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023. We have heard a lot of unfulfilled sermons of campaign promises of politicians and Nigerians are tired of empty promises by politicians just to get elected into public offices. If you had occupied or occupying public office and you did not make positive impact in the lives of the people, I advise you not to seek elective post because the electorate won’t vote for you. Your contest will be an effort in futility. Their campaign should be issue- driven by telling the people what you will do for them if elected and how you would accomplish them. In fact, Nigerians have decided to elect a truly developmental person in his drive to build cushion among the people. As campaign commences, Nigerians are looking forward to electing a presidential candidate whose cardinal point rests on the concept of national peace because peace in Nigeria resonates. Therefore, I urge all the Presidential candidates to keep to the Peace Accord they signed for the 2023 general elections with the nation’s Peace Committee led by former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar. The era of where a candidate hails from or his or her political party has gone rather, the electorate want a person that will unite Nigeria. This
becomes necessary because Nigeria is polarized by politics, tribe, tongue and creed, hence there is need for peace to be the cardinal principle of the next President of the country.
What do you think are the major needs of Nigerians that the next President is expected to meet within few months he assumes office?
Nigerians are not difficult to please because we are hard working people. Nigerians want a leader who will make their lives better than he or she met them. Unfortunately, the reverse is the case here. You will agree with me that Nigeria as it stands today is a land of mysteries with too many unexplained and unexplainable phenomena and to beat the heat, Nigeria youths have come together to take back their country from incompetent leaders. The primary responsibility of government is security of lives and property. Therefore, young Nigerians have resolved to elect leaders that will provide security. Majority of Nigerians are unemployed, hence the next President must as matter of urgent importance create employment opportunities that will enable young men and women to be engaged after graduation. The person Nigerians will elect as the next President should create a conducive environment for Small and Medium enterprise to thrive and this can happen if there is steady power supply. Again, because our refineries are moribund, we export our crude oil at a cheaper rate and later import it after it has been refined at huge sums of dollar. However, the next administration must fix our refineries so that we can refine crude locally. Remember APC promised to fix our refineries if we vote for them in 2015 and 2019; unfortunately, as an opposition party then, they said that petroleum subsidy was a scam. But since it assumed the reins of power, the APC under Muhammadu Buhari’s government has paid more subsidies on petroleum than the government it took over from. Not only that, the way petroleum subsidy has ballooned under Buhari’s watch, year-in year-out, has left no one in doubt that corruption of the worst order has been the name of the game. Recall that the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed said subsidy on petrol in the 2023 budget under preparation will total N6.7trillion. But come to think of it, between 2006 and 2015, the Obasanjo, Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan administrations all put together paid N8.94trillion on petrol subsidy. However, for a single year alone (2023), Buhari’s administration is budgeting close to that amount (N6.7trillion) as petrol subsidy. So, petrol subsidy payment grew by 349.42 percent beginning from Buhari’s second term of office in 2019 and last year (2021) from N350 billion to N1.573 trillion. Apart from unbridled corruption, rising price of crude oil in the international market and the falling value of the naira are the other reasons government gave that is fuelling the escalating cost of petrol subsidy. Therefore, the rising oil prices in the international market, that supposed to be a blessing, has turned into a curse because the country’s cost of importation of finished petroleum wipes away any gains thereby leaving the country with a balance of trade deficits. Thank God the government has come to realize that there are oil thieves that are siphoning the nation’s oil. Most important is education as we have seen how university students have been out of school for 8 months due to ASUU strike. However, the next government must reform our public schools especially the universities because education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today according to Malcolm .X.
What is your opinion on the lingering ASUU strike?
So far, the government has shifted grounds towards meeting the demands of University lecturers in public universities but the lecturers are saying that government should do more and as well pay their salaries while they were on strike. That is the true position of the situation right now. Well, I want to use this medium to appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to personally intervene so that our tomorrow leaders will go back to school and continue their studies.
Nigeria must restructure her education system to meet global standard. In Finland for example, companies fund education. It is worthy to note that if there is no justice for the people, there will be no peace for the government. Like I said earlier, education should be given more attention by the next administration because it is the future base of Nigeria.
APC and PDP are engulfed in crisis. In the case of the ruling party, is the Muslim-Muslim ticket for Presidential election and in the PDP some stakeholders led by Governor of Rivers State Nyesom Wike are against North taking all positions in the party, what are your reactions?
According to a great philosopher, Aristotle “No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness hence from your question you can understand why politics is a strife of interest masquerading as a contest of principles while in reality, the conduct of public affairs is for private advantage in Nigeria. As it is, right now, Christians especially the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has criticized Muslim-Muslim ticket chosen by the APC Presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Sen. Kashim Shettima. Meanwhile, this is not the first time the faith has produced the head and second in command. For example, before the Nigeria/Biafra civil war, it did not matter to Nigerians, but immediately after the war, balance of power became necessary. For instance, the first military Head of state, Gen. Thomas Umunakwe Aguiyi Ironsi picked a fellow Christian, Brigadier Babademi Ogundipe as deputy in 1966. He did not stop there, he also made another Christian, Admiral Joseph Edet Akinwale Wey, his third in command. Gen. Ironsi’s all-Christian regime was succeeded by another all-Christian leadership led by Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd) with Joseph Edet Akinwale Wey as his second in command. So, religion should not determine our political interest, but we should concentrate on the pedigree of the individual contestants. So, the APC Muslim-Muslim ticket for 2023 Presidential election, to Christians has broken the tradition of political balance, but in reality, that shouldn’t be the case. We should not concern ourselves with the issue of two Muslims seeking to govern Nigeria as Nigerians have the final say with their votes. In the case of PDP, the leadership of the party breached the rotation of presidency arrangement of the party. This time, it is the turn of the South-East geo political zone to produce the Presidential candidate of PDP for 2023 but former Vice President Atiku Abubakar won the Presidential primaries of the party because the likes of Governor David Umahi, Sen. Enyinaya Abaribe and the former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi saw the handwriting on the wall before they defected to the other parties. As I speak with you, majority of the Igbo have decided to back the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi to become the next President of Nigeria in 2023.
One of the leaders of Afenifere, a Pan-Yoruba Socio-Political Organisation, Chief Ayo Adebanjo recently declared their support for the Presidential candidate of LP because to them, it is Igbo turn to produce the President of Nigeria. But Labour Party has no structural spread that can give Peter Obi victory over the two major contenders, Tinubu of APC and Atiku of PDP, What is your take?
That is an assumption, it is not true. That is why I told you that Nigerians are no longer interested in political parties and their structures because that approach has failed to give birth to good governance since 1960 we attained independence. Let me use this medium to commend leaders and members of Afenifere Organisation for throwing their weight behind Peter Obi. If you look around the nation today ahead of 2023 Presidential election, it is not only Afenifere that is in full support of Peter Obi Presidency. Peter Obi is enjoying great support of Nigerian electorates especially youths even in the northern part of the country. It is crystal clear that Nigerians are tired of the old breed political leaders and this time, they wants to take their destiny in their hands. These young men and women want real and better change, not just mere change, hence the reason they have decided to back Peter Obi to succeed President Buhari next year. Ayn Rand expressed the mood of Nigerians in this quote, “The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live.” The youths believe that so far, most Nigeria leaders stumbled into power with no taste of service or idea of good governance, hence they make public show of the shame of leadership. There are compelling needs and in order to stay alive and active, youths want a leader who will meet their needs. And to them, that leader is Peter Obi.
Don’t you think Afenifere’s support could be an empty promise since one of their sons, Tinubu is in the race?
Like I said, Nigerians are no longer talking about where the candidate hails from or his religion; rather, they are concerned about his track record. They want a competent and credible person as the next President of Nigeria. Yes, the Presidential candidate of APC, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu is from Southwest. But Afenifere is saying that for equity and justice, it is the turn of Igbo to produce the President of Nigeria in 2023. They know that former President Olusegun Obasanjo was President from 1999 to 2007 and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is also from Southwest. So, they have had their share. However, Peter Obi has given Nigerians leadership insight which has raised the consciousness of the people to believe in him. As it stands, many believe that Nigeria is a nation in chains and needs a liberator. Peter Obi is the liberator Nigerians are looking for in 2023. He is reliable, competent and credible if you consider what he did in Anambra State as governor. Let us throw more light on the man Peter Obi. He is an honest man, a committed Nigerian who believes in the unity of the country. A man of few words but he commands huge integrity. These are some of the qualities that make Nigerians to respect him. Obi as it stands right now has secured huge political followership, especially in the northern part of Nigeria. Obi has brought significant influence on his party, the Labour Party in the 2023 general election. Nigerians believe in Obi’s concept of nation building as they appreciate his bid to move the psyche of Nigerians from primordial sentiments to issues of development of the country. He does not see anything with the significance of religiously balancing of ticket even though few courageous Christians even in the North have openly opposed same faith ticket. He has promised to urgently do something about the growing insecurity situation in the country if elected President in 2023 which he said had led to many paying the supreme price. To him, the absence of the factors in the governance of the country has brought the height of politics without principle.