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Deconstructing Soludo’s lack of support for Obi

Deconstructing Soludo’s lack of support for Obi

Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo’s lack of support for Peter Obi’s presidential ambition is understandable. It borders on self-interest, and perhaps envy. There’s a concealed rivalry between the two illustrious sons of Anambra State. The hidden peer rivalry dates back to 2010. Peter Obi was the governor of Anambra State when Soludo was the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. They were relatively close friends during that period.

When Soludo clandestinely lobbied for a second and final term as the CBN governor from then President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, but unfortunately couldn’t get it, he was promised the position of Anambra State governor by the then powers-that-be in Abuja which was controlled by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

Therefore, when Soludo left office in 2009, his next target was Peter Obi’s job as the governor of Anambra State. Peter Obi who was elected on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) was getting set for his second term in 2010. The period marked the departure of their mutual friendship till date.

Peter Obi couldn’t fathom or comprehend how Soludo could come after his job whereas the same Soludo had in various fora, commended Obi’s performance as the governor of his home state.

Soludo was literally imposed as the PDP candidate by late Chief Tony Anenih against the wishes of those controlling the structure of the party in the state at the time. Soludo relied on federal might to railroad him into the government house as governor by muzzling incumbent Governor Peter Obi out of office.

However, fate played a fast one on him as President Yar’Adua left the country for sick leave in late 2009 and never returned. Acting President Goodluck Jonathan was in charge of Nigeria at the time. He refused to deploy federal might to assist Soludo in the 2010 gubernatorial election, but rather ensured that a free, fair and credible election was conducted which Peter Obi won.

That incident marked the beginning of Soludo’s morbid hatred for Jonathan which culminated in his strong opposition to Jonathan’s re-election in 2015. On the other hand, it brought about a cordial friendship between Jonathan and Peter Obi till date. Soludo congratulated Obi after losing the 2010 election, but it was apparently not from his heart. He never forgave Jonathan and Obi for that loss.

In 2013, he defected to APGA and showed interest to contest for the governorship election on its platform. However, Governor Obi and the leaders of the party which included Chief Victor Umeh wanted the seat to be zoned to Anambra North against Soludo who is from Anambra South that had produced Dr Chinwoke Mbadiniuju as governor. Soludo’s insistence on defying the party’s leadership resulted in his disqualification from the contest. That paved the way for Chief Willie Obiano to emerge as the governor. Soludo never forgave Peter Obi and Victor Umeh for that disqualification.

That Victor Umeh could lose the APGA senatorial primary election in 2022 under the leadership of Soludo as governor was as a result of the 2013 disqualification. How could Umeh lose APGA primary election to a relatively unknown Hon Dozie Nwankwo? Soludo used the opportunity to extract his pound of flesh from Umeh even when the same Umeh was his chief returning officer or polling agent during the November, 2021 governorship election.

In Soludo’s recent article, he wrote that he advised Peter Obi to return to APGA and contest the presidency on its platform. He was being clever by half because if Peter Obi had returned to the party, the ugly treatment meted to Sen Umeh would have been his portion. The truth of the matter is that Soludo’s purported request for Obi to return to APGA was deceitful because Obi would have seen worse humiliation if he had paid heed to such advice.

Read also: Peter Obi is causing a resurgence of patriotism in Nigerians

Soludo is apprehensive of Peter Obi becoming the president of Nigeria because he knows that if that happens, his second term ambition could be jeopardized. With Obi as president of Nigeria, Soludo’s re-election in 2026 may be likened to a cow passing through the eye of the needle no matter his performance in the first term.

It’s disingenuous for Soludo to allude that Peter Obi didn’t do well as a governor or that Dr Chris Ngige constructed a more quality road than Obi. Soludo also agreed that the Nigerian economy was growing between the average of 6-8% per annum and that the Nigeria economy was booming, yet he opposed Jonathan’s re-election. Yet, he said that the poverty rate in Anambra State was more than 50% at the time. What a contradiction!

On Peter Obi’s presidential quest for 2023, I am tempted to agree with Soludo that Peter Obi will not win the election. Granted that Obi is the most acceptable presidential candidate from the South-East in this generation, but he is not likely to win the forthcoming general election. Peter Obi is a candidate for the future.

I love his revolutionary movement at the moment but his Labour Party that just fielded 30 senatorial candidates out of the 109 senatorial districts in Nigeria cannot do any miracle to win the presidency. I agree with Soludo that Peter Obi’s quest may affect Ndigbo if not managed well now. The depletion of the Igbo votes by Obi will be in Tinubu’s advantage, and every patriotic Nigerian must do everything humanly possible to stop APC from ruling this country beyond May, 2023.

Peter Obi will not win any presidential race where the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria are fielding candidates. He should have been the best if the position was micro-zoned to the South-East. The truth of the matter is that Atiku Abubakar will win the presidency just like what happened in 1979 when the three major ethnic groups fielded Shagari, Awolowo and Zik. The North can never abandon Atiku in preference to Tinubu or Obi.

In any case, Atiku’s presidency, whether for four or eight years, will bring the presidency closer to Ndigbo more than Tinubu’s presidency that would return the seat to the North after him. Ndigbo should avoid the Nzogbu-Nzogbu emotive mentality as being demonstrated now and put on our thinking cap.

Maduako, a social commentator, writes from Owerri