For the eight years that Mr Peter Obi was the governor of Anambra State, I followed his political trajectory with interest and I am proud of the works he did and the things he accomplished.
After he left office, I had the privilege to review his handover notes and had listened to his many speeches which were given from the heart and without a cheating sheet.
I have had reasons to clap and take notes each time he spoke on how he was able to perform the Anambra miracle. This explains why I find him worthy and has made pitching for his presidency a project.
Not that we do not have other wise men from the East who can run for the number one job. Of course, we have men like my big boss, OUK, Rochas Okorocha, Ogbonnaya Onu, Kingsley Moghalu, Sam Ohuabunwa, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, Gov Dave Umahi, Governor Ugwuanyi, Senator Ken Nnamani and a host of others who are pretending to be waiting for the ticket to be zoned to the South East without working for it. Perhaps they are being risk averse. Facts remain that ‘no venture, no success’.
However, among these wise men, Peter Obi stood as a clear favourite, hence I am earnestly urging him to declare his intention for 2023. He shouldn’t worry about funds for the project. It will be powered by the people.
I am optimistic that 2023 presents the best opportunity for him to step forward and it’s now or never. He can’t have all the ideas on how Nigeria can be saved and then withdraw to the sidelines when it mattered most. That will not be acceptable, as all the common sense logics and things he has been saying will amount to theoretical nonsense.
All those positioning for president are not better than him. I will rather that he present himself and let Nigerians say that they want another Buhari or a stay back in Egypt, which I doubt because Nigerians are sick and tired of the state of the nation and will not want another President like this incumbent.
The average Nigerian wants a good economy, unity, peace and security. They want food, they want employment and good education. They want law and order and they want a leadership they can trust.
I am urging Obi to run for president not just because I want him to put his theories of good governance into practice but to save this country from total collapse. We need a Moses who will not only get us out of Egypt but also lead us into Canaan.
The state of the nation is frightening. Put aside our general insecurity and other social strife and consider the fact that our inflation rate as at date stood above 18.12 per cent and is worsening by the day; unemployment -33.28 per cent; youth unemployment -53 per cent ; debt Profile – N32.72 trillion; Exchange rate @dollar rate N530 and may get up to N800 to a dollar by December; Foreign Reserve- $34.27bn.
The above statistics is an indication that the country is on life support and needs a leader with his head in the right place. What do we do? Give up? Giving up on Nigeria is not an option. I believe every crisis has its own advantages and solutions.
This is a time we need courageous and disciplined leaders to take the centre stage and speak out on the way forward. Those who want to lead should not sit back and refuse to take actions. They should be able to tell the people what they will do differently and how.
Apart from restructuring, which I believe is not a magical wand, I will still urge Obi to go for president because unity, security and the economy will dominate the post-Buhari presidency. Given his antecedents, he has a comparative advantage over the other makeshift drivers angling to drive a post Buhari presidency. It takes only the silence and absence of good men for evil men to reign supreme.
Nigeria from 1960 had tried the Hausa, the Fulani, the Yoruba and the Ijaw leaderships and we couldn’t fix ordinary electricity and potable water supply, not to talk of fixing our education, health care, infrastructure and our unity. We are still talking about herders and cows and dealing with primordial matters that ought to be settled issues.
What we have not tried is the Igbo miracle. If indeed we want real change in our governance model, I will suggest without prejudice that we leave aside all ethnic and religious sentiments and give the Igbo the opportunity to fix our broken politics and we need not look farther than Mr Peter Gregory Obi.
I don’t speak of the Igbo miracle as a myth but as a tried and tested reality. I recall with nostalgia, the demolition of the then Jankara Market dominated by the Igbo by the Lateef Jakande administration in Lagos. The Igbo community sent a high-powered delegation to the governor to reconsider the displacement of the traders.
Baba Kekere said to the delegation that he was told that the Igbo are miracle workers and that he would want to relocate them to a new site, which was swampy, and crocodile infested. He said he is giving the area free to the Igbo if they are able to conquer and subdue the harsh environment. The Igbo took the challenge, went and turned the place into gold that is today contributing over N154bn to Nigeria’s GDP. That Igbo miracle is Ojo Alaba.
In Kano, the Igbo people were given Sabon Gari to inhabit. They not only turned Sabon Gari into a suburban city, they have extended development to ‘No Man’s land’ down to ‘Sarkin Yaji’. That’s the Igbo Miracle in Kano. A miracle replicated all over the North.
With just 20 pounds given to the Igbo after the Nigeria Biafra Civil War, they have created trillions of wealth and arguably the richest demography in Nigeria. That again is the Igbo miracle.
When Peter Obi came in as governor of Anambra State, government business operated from makeshift containers, batchers and kiosks. There was no secretariat. The state owed several years of arrears of unpaid salaries, pensions and contract certificates. There was general insecurity and the health care and education systems were in shambles. Obi fixed the broken system without borrowing a dime. Rather than debt, he left savings in billions of naira and millions of dollars for his successor. That’s an unmatched Igbo miracle.
Nigeria needs to replicate the Igbo miracle to succeed. I acknowledge for a fact that we the Igbo need to build bridges rather than burn bridges. It serves no useful purpose denigrating others when we need their support and friendship.
I will expect our elite to do more than they are doing in securing the support and cooperation of other entities in Nigeria. Nigeria is worth saving and need to be saved. I believe the place of the Igbo in saving Nigeria from collapse should form part of the on-going dialogue, especially as we debate the future of our democracy and our faltering federation.
When we do get the chance to lead Nigeria, we must do all we can to perform the Igbo miracle for the benefit of all. We can’t help Nigeria without being involved at the centre. We need the Presidency. We can get it not by intimidating and harassing others, or by insulting and hating the Fulani, the Hausa, the Yoruba or the Ijaw. We can’t get it by self-destruction and by destroying public institutions. We can’t get the presidency by our political elite abdicating responsibilities and handing over the well- being of the South East to violent non-state actors.
As Igbo, we don’t want to be feared. All we demand is to be respected. Thus, in our engagement with others, we must show respect. We need dialogue, as dialogue remains the only route to national peace and justice.
We need to rise above tribal, ethnic and religious sentiments. We must admit to ourselves that despite our cultural differences, we are one people, one nation under one God.