For many voters, the Atiku/Obi ticket, is is een as a partnership that will coordinate a rescue of the many problems currently facing our country.
In politics, some moments blaze merrily with great expectations. They give a certain appetite that despite the darkest years, hope springs from eternal. It’s a time when people begin to hunger for, to use the cliché, a new menu. In a presidential race, the moment blazes even more cheerily when the partners in a ticket not only add to each other’s strengths, but complement each other’s perceived weaknesses, in addition to be fully qualified as President.
That’s exactly the enthusiastic reaction that greeted the nomination of former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar as the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the party’s national convention in Port Harcourt , Rivers State recently, and Mr. Peter Obi as Vice Presidential pick. The Atiku/Obi ticket is widely seen as a gift that will inspire and unite our people of diverse ethnic backgrounds who have been disillusioned, divided and short-changed by the ruling All Progressives Congress(APC) government. Therefore, for many emerging, energetic voters, the Atiku/Obi ticket, is indeed, seen as a partnership that will coordinate a rescue of the many problems currently facing our country.
It was in furtherance of this that the serene Nike Lake Resort Hotel, Enugu, last Wednesday hosted the largest assemblage of ‘Who’s Who’ in Igboland since the present political dispensation. The gathering was extraordinary. The setting looked like a royal garden party. Anyone who is somebody in the South-East was there – Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Igbo leaders of thought, the political elite, the intelligentsia, women groups, religious leaders – all resolved to support the Atiku/Obi ticket. It’s no longer time to sit on the fence. That was the message.
Since that successful meeting at Nike Lake Resort Hotel, and the communiqué that was issued about the unalloyed support and endorsement of the Atiku/Obi ticket and the reasons why the South-East leaders have taken that stand, APC leaders have been in panic mood. They have been scratching their hands over how to respond to the South-East endorsement, and how to kick off its Presidential campaign which began on Sunday.
I thought the APC has promised issues-based campaign, driven by ideas and decorum, devoid of mudslinging, inflammatory statements and personal attacks. Don’t bet on APC and its leaders to stick to the rules of decent electioneering campaign. Shortly after the Nike Lake meeting, President Muhammadu Buhari tried fruitlessly to diminish the endorsement by saying he received many calls from certain South-East leaders(he didn’t mention names) who assured him that he (Buhari) should not take the Atiku/Obi endorsement serious.
Few days ago, as usual, Adams Oshiomhole,the APC national Chairman flew off the handle with his sharp,quick tongue that has put his party in its present drowning stupor. He unleashed verbal swipes at Obi, claiming falsely that the people of South-East rejected Obi. This is not only a distortion of facts, but the most disingenuous, most inappropriate disparagement of Obi’s legacy and the cheers that received his nomination as VP candidate of PDP across the geopolitical zone. That one or two disgruntled politicians with no national appeal cried they were not “consulted”, does not, and cannot diminish the credentials and unquestioned competence and integrity that Obi brings into the PDP Presidential ticket.
But don’t be fooled by the fast and loose with the facts that the APC is playing on the PDP presidential ticket. It’s not hard to decipher why the APC is losing sleep already. All of us know the stakes are high in the 2019 election, in particular, the presidential poll. APC has lost a lot of ground as a result of the crises from its primaries. The crises are deepening and the party also drowning, less than three months to the February date. It’s not unkind to say that no ruling party in our recent political history has squandered as much public trust as APC, and President Buhari as well in less than four years of been in power. This cannot be a bragging right for a ruling party seeking to be reelected.
Swinging like a pendulum between an instinct to bully its opponents and playing fast and loose with the facts when what the voters want is truth simply spoken, will not help the APC in these campaigns. Nigeria is currently confronted with challenges of immediate sorts. And attack on personalities is pretty hollow. It is a nervous, arrogant and egotistical way to tackle issues Nigerians want to hear on the campaign trail and the solutions to these problems.
This must be said: The majority of South-Easterners see the Atiku/Obi ticket as an exceptional one for the prize of the highest political office in the land – the Presidency. I wish the President would take a serial notebook in hand with few security officials with him to the South-East. He would see how angry the people are with his party.
For them, APC represents a misfortune. That’s not to say there are no good Igbo men and women in APC in the zone. As one angry Imo citizen, an APC-controlled state told me recently,’voting for APC again will be like rewarding somebody who killed my father and wants to marry my mother’. That’s how sad many people feel about APC.
Beyond that, the heart-dropping pictures of dilapidated roads,particularly the highways, are indeed depressing. Not even during the civil war did the roads in the zone become such death traps. The Second Niger Bridge remains a serial political promise that never get fulfilled by the Federal Government. The Sunday Sun of November 20, 2016, captured this in features titled: “Pain, agony over deplorable federal roads in South-East”. In short, the people of the South-East feel like “conquered” enclave, 48 years after the war ended. The President may not be moved by the plight of the South-East. Recall he was quoted to have said few years ago that it made no sense to give much attention to a geopolitical zone that gave him five percent of the votes he scored in 2015. Maybe, this time around it will be less than five percent, if all votes should count.
That appears to be one of the reasons why the South-East is standing with Atiku/Obi ticket. If you say it’s a gamble fraught with unknown political implications, some risks may be worth taking, after all. One thing is however clear, and that is the known: For many from the South-East, the APC has come far short on leadership, competence and effectiveness. The party has become more of a divider than a uniter. It lacks cross-functional team spirit to rally people around it. Besides, APC lacks that managerial attribute called ‘Social Capital’, that ability to connect with the people and shape their aspirations to meet individual and collective goals.
Although few other presidential hopefuls like Prof. Kingsley Moghalu and Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, have blueprints that appeal to me, the Atiku/Obi ticket has a more detailed blueprint on where it intends to take Nigeria in the next four years. The document is specific on issues on restructuring, security, economy, healthcare, Youth and employment, corruption, women empowerment, etc.
When the ‘old order’ has failed to deliver, what do you do? This is how former American President, Gerald Ford put it in his memoir, “A Time To Heal”, “when you’re behind in the Fourth quarter of a football game and time is running out on the clock, there’s only one thing to do: Throw the bomb”. That’s why the APC is in a panic mood right now.