Peter Obi and the 2023 presidential election
The periodic ritual of casting votes for politicians vying for elective posts in Nigeria’s general election will take place in 2023. Casting votes for politicians seeking elective offices by the electorate is part of our democratic culture. And electioneering, which precedes casting of votes by voters, offers candidates for elective posts the opportunity to espouse and promote their political parties’ political ideologies, and roadmaps for governing either the country or the sub-national units in Nigeria.
But the ideological differences between one major political party and another are nebulous. In fact, our political parties do not have any strong ideological moorings. So their activities are not hinged on political ideologies. Even the ones that lay claim to being progressive are bereft of progressive tendencies and ideals. None of them tends truly either to the left or right.
The reality of the nature of political parties in Nigeria is that they are vehicles, which politicians use to realise their political ends – that is, the acquisition of political power and posts. This prevailing situation is unlike what obtained in the first Republic when politicians waxed ideological. Then, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe would make speeches that were marked and laced with “izs” and “isms,” a proof of his learnedness and deep grounding in political ideologies.
And Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s socialist disposition manifested when he ruled the Western region based on democratic welfarism. His free education policy, then, benefited many people of Yoruba descent, who came from very poor homes. Tafawa Balewa, our prime minister in the first Republic, wrote a classic novel, which proved that he possessed political ideology.
But our first Republic politicians, who were men of letters, failed to disabuse their minds of ethnic prejudice and religious bias. They introduced ethnicity and religious bias into our democratic culture and way of politicking. Chief Obafemi Awolowo, we all know, was an exponent and advocate of ethnic nationalism. Although Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe championed the cause of one Nigeria during the Nigeria-Biafra civil war, he whimsically pandered to ethnic sentiments during his political career.
It cannot be gainsaid that the first Republic politicians laid the foundation for the ethnicisation of our way of politicking, and its colouration with religious bias. It’s the political and democratic legacy they left for us.
Till now, which is the fourth Republic, the factors of religion and ethnic origins are features of our politics. It is noticeable during our preparation for the general election when the religions and ethnic origins of the presidential aspirants will either become their albatross or advantage. They are the determinants of who will become the president of Nigeria.
Given the fact that ethnicity and religion play pivotal roles in the determination of those who will become the president of Nigeria, rotational presidency is the antidote to political strife in Nigeria. But now, our politicians’ overriding self-centredness, provincialism, religious bias, and ethnic prejudice have driven the final nails into the coffin of rotational presidency.
So, the prevailing situation of our jettisoning of rotational presidency is a portent of doom for Nigeria, as to our country’s unity and continued existence as one indivisible and united country.
Were the principle of rotational presidency still practised in Nigeria, APC and PDP would have produced presidential candidates, who hail from the southeast geopolitical zone, the homeland of the ethnic Igbo people.
But the APC’s presidential candidate is Ahmed Bola Tinubu, a Yoruba muslim. The main opposition party, PDP, is fielding a northern muslim, Atiku Abubakar for the 2023 presidential slugfest.
The parsimonious Peter Obi, who was forced out of PDP by circumstances, has become the presidential candidate of the Labour Party. Labour Party has become the third force in Nigeria as Peter Obi’s membership of the party as its presidential candidate has shot the party into stratospheric prominence.
Obi’s rhetoric on the economy, his proposed policies on how to administer Nigeria if he wins the presidential election, and his possession of leadership qualities and probity won him to the sides of the youthful Nigerians.So millions of young people in Nigeria, who come from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds perceive Mr. Peter Obi as the political Messiah and revolutionary, who will right the wrongs in our body politic, entrench national unity in our country, and set it on the path of national development.
However, saying that Mr.Peter Obi is the linchpin for the political emancipation of the Igbo people in Nigeria is not akin to the ethnicisation of his presidential candidature.
The peculiarity of our democratic experience and culture makes it expedient and imperative for us- the southeast people – to openly and unashamedly demand that the presidential seat rotate to the southeast geopolitical zone. It is one condition, the fulfilment of which will guarantee us peace and unity and political stability in Nigeria.
Okoye, a social commentator, writes from Uruowulu-Obosi, Anambra State