By Gideon I Onyedi.
Just a couple of days ago, after Alhaji Abubakar Atiku had ‘providentially’ emerged the crowned presidential candidate of the PDP, for the 2019 general elections, the news greeted the ears of Nigerians that the new possible future president of Nigeria had made an informed decision in the calculated and strategic choice of a running mate, in the humble person of Mr Peter Obi, the former celebrated, economic-circumspect, principled, humble, and integrity-conscious Governor of Anambara State.
This unexpected decision was received with mixed reactions from the classical elite class, the affluent bourgeoisie class, the humble proletariat class, the flamboyant political class, the sanctimonious religious class, the monitoring ruling class, the revolutionary but compromised youth class, and the dominant and enamoured corrupt class.
Whereas a good number of the downtrodden and lowly, and the average Nigerian in general and my fellow Igbo in particular seem content and comforted, albeit still hurting from woes and present fears and suffering , in the light of chagrin socio-economic and political erosion corroding the entire landscape of the east, others are busy warring for their selfish ends and antagonizing one another.
Remember the last time one of us from this part of Nigeria occupied that position in a democratic setting was about 35 years ago, until a regrettable political stillbirth was precipitated, resulting in a seemingly eternal socio-economic and political haemorrhage for the nation since that inglorious militarization.
And the then occupant of the number 2 position, a revered intellectual of the stock of the Igbo, passed on not too long ago. An unfulfilled man. Not unfulfilled in his personal life. But unfulfilled in his passionate desire for his people and the nation. Remember his fate in 1999 at the historic PDP Convention for the primaries. Remember how his own betrayed him. Oh my people! My people!
That was the day he died a political death. Our people killed him. Our politicians sacrificed him. Our kinsmen denied him. Our brothers sold him for a pot of porridge But he managed to live on as a warrior and a true Igbo, a patriotic Nigerian. IN his integrity, he lived on. IN his hard-earned reputation, he lived on. IN his uncorrupt pride and dignity, he lived.
The man with clean hands never dies. The hero with a pure heart never dies tragically, he lives and dies inspirationally.
Today, another silver line, not yet a golden opportunity, (for the battle, yet to be fought, is neither lost nor won), is, like the unpredictable beautiful but elusive rainbow, being dotted on our ancestral Igbo land with the nomination of the unassuming, personable, amiable, reputable ex-Governor Peter Obi as the running mate of Abubakar Atiku, and the gladiators, with ‘their coats of many colours’ are at it again.
The ‘mill’ under contention is the position of the Vice President. While the Afenifere have requested to be given the position with or without any consultation, my Governors: Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia, David Umahi of Ebonyi, and Ugwuanyi of Enugu, the distinguished troika from the east, appear to be gnashing their teeth at Atiku Abubakar and venting their envy at Peter Obi for lack of consultation.
Their argument might sell in some circles, but, is it time again to tell the whole world that we are not yet ashamed of what happened to Alex Ekwueme in 1999? Is it time again to tell the whole world that we are proud that while Ghali Umar Na’aba, and Tambuwal reigned unchallenged as Speakers of the House of Representatives in their own time , and David Mark as Senate President for eight whole years, the South East in the Senate of 1999 – 2007 produced five Senate Presidents in eight years in the spirit of ‘let-it-go-round’. Others do not know how to make it go round.
For this, I commend the present crop of Senators from the South East for standing by and supporting the current Deputy Senate President, Professor Ike Ekweremadu, without covetting his position. Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, the gallant legislative soldier of his people , and your colleagues, I respect you. You and your colleagues from the South East in the current Senate will be proudly remembered by history.
But my Governors. And they are wonderful Governors. Who for the safety of life and property of their people approved and somehow helplessly supported Operation Python Dance.. Though its justification still remains remote, but I love our armies as a patriot . Our Governors, who for the good of their people, or was it personal survival and political expediency, disowned and distanced themselves from IPOB. Our Governors who have played both politics of survival and subtle realignment, today do threaten and seem not to care about the joys of their people. They threaten, and appear not to be touched by the feelings and demands of their people. They threaten, and pretend not to care about the fears and concerns of their people. They threaten, and appear not to consider the precarious socio-economic future of their people. Because they were not consulted. Because they were not carried along as Governors. Or is it as Igbo Leaders.
But, who are these youths jubilating on the streets? The crooked and dusty streets of the forgotten ones. Who are these ordinary people celebrating on the highways? The highways of economic tension and political uncertainty.
Shouldn’t our Governors listen to them?
If the Governors reject and make Atiku to drop Peter Obi., will it be for the masses? If the Governors reject and make Atiku Abubakar to replace Peter Obi, is it for the struggling traders in Ariaria International Market, Aba, or Onitsha Main Market? If the Governors reject and make Atiku Abubakar to drop Peter Obi, is it either for industrial revolution in Nnewi or for agrarian greatness and self-sufficiency in Ebony? Is it for any economic interest and growth in any part of the South East? Or is it for their political interest?
For Alhaji Abubakar Atikus, you can’t afford to drop Peter Obi. That would present your respectable personality as not thinking before acting. We know you are always strategic in your planning.
You know why you chose Peter Obi in the first place. It is your duty to convince the gain and nay-sayers.
Consultation is of great importance in times and situations like this, but the manner we choose and drop says a lot about us as leaders and our ability to take informed and convincing decisions.
A change of mind from the Turakin Adamawa would rubbish his respect, MORESO WHEN THERE IS NO NEED AND THERE IS NO REASON TO DO THAT.
Further to that, your political opponents are in ambush, patiently waiting and praying for you to change Peter Obi, and make a mistake to embrace a man infested with the leprosy of corruption, then the powers that be would, like a farnished lioness with hungry cubs, pounce on the new bride with their henchmen From the EFCC. and you would then know that Peter Obi, for now, remains arguably, your ticket to escape the bad business of an unknown man to be foisted on you as a running mate.
Again, listen to the voice of reason from the heart of discernment. There is a last card of political demobilization and incapicitation which the opponents are out to play. A number of PDP leaders, like other politicians in other parties, have skeletons in their cupboards. The EFCC has not come after some of them because they are being anticipated for this position. It is during this time that their real or trumped up charges are designed to come up to disorganize your political machinery. Be wise. Be brave. Be resolute.
I have a word for our Governors: Do not make yourselves enemies of the present and future youth of the South East. When former President Obasanjo chose Dr Goodluck Jonathan to be Yaradua’s running mate, did he consult with the then Governors of the South South?
When former President Goodluck Jonathan chose Governor Namadi Sambo of. Kaduna State, did he consult the then Governors of the North West?
My dear Governors, it is time we played this game of politics with maturity and equanimity. Do not distract these leaders. Let us not create a trap that would be the undoing of Alhaji Abubakar Atiku once he is compelled to pick someone else instead of his preferred choice.
The opportunity is here with us. Let us demonstrate our faith in ourselves and our kinsman, and remember that it is not the war without, that destroys a people, but the battle within. Many are lurking around the corner to snatch it. A stitch in time, they say, saves nine.
Gideon I Onyedi,