• Sunday, April 21, 2024
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2023: APC, LP, PDP argue over Obasanjo’s endorsement of Peter Obi


The All Progressive Congress (APC), Labour Party (LP), and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) have expressed divergent views over former president Olusegun Obasanjo’s decision to endorse the candidature of Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party.

The political parties’ spokesmen, Daniel Bwala, PDP presidential spokesman; Niyi Akinsiju, APC Presidential Campaign Committee (APC-PCC) spokesman; and Kenneth Okonkwo, Obi/Datti movement spokesman, argued to varying degrees on Channels Tv Politics Today on Tuesday about the content of the former president’s new year letter to Nigerians and whether he should be taken seriously or not.

On New Year’s Day, the former president published a letter that has since gone viral in both the conventional and social media spaces. He had condemned the Muhammadu Buhari administration for failing to translate the aspirations of Nigerians.

In light of the failures of the current administration and the perceived lack of ability from the other major political party—the PDP in particular—to help take Nigeria from the doldrums of hardship it finds itself in, Obasanjo had suggested that voters vote for Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the LP.

He argued that the former Anambra State governor had the ability to unite the country, had a listening ear, was youthful, and was willing to rescue Nigeria from economic collapse.

Read also: Obasanjo is attacking Buhari out of frustration- Presidency

During the course of the show, the first to discredit Obasanjo’s letter and in particular his endorsement of Obi was Niyi Akinsiju, spokesman of the APC Presidential Campaign Committee (APC-PCC), who said that the party and the current administration have established a track record of not embracing the person and the personality of the former president.

He added that out of four living ex-military leaders—Gen. Gowon (Rtd), Gen. Abdulsalami (Rtd), Gen. Babaginda (Rtd), and Obasanjo—only Obasanjo behaves like a non-elder statesman.

“There are three statesmen; we have four living Nigerian Heads of State (HoS) in the persons of General Gowon (Rtd. ), General Abdulsalami (Rtd.), General Babaginda (Rtd.), and, of course, General Obasanjo. To our mind, those first three Babaginda—Abdulsalami and Gowon—have shown themselves as statesmen,” he said. “You hardly see them come into the arena, and to a large extent, we have extended our respect to them over the years.”

He also stated that the former president’s endorsement of Obi does not cast doubt on his party’s candidate’s presidential ambitions, and that he will not lose sleep over it.”We are not bothered by this endorsement. To us it is so much of wind, so much of violence of wind because to our mind the exact precedence, the exact background to the person of Obasanjo in terms of performance in office does not sell him to us as a credible individual that we should seek his endorsement. And since 2019, he has gone his way, and we have not been bothered.”

He added that his time as a civilian president was full of underperformance, especially taking into consideration the abundance of resources at his disposal. With crude oil providing so much money, the country during his administration was still faced with large-scale poverty, with “more than 60 percent living below the poverty line.”

Adeniyi advised that Obasanjo shouldn’t be taken seriously as a critic of any administration, especially the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

He also made reference to the level of inflation that was at its peak during the administration of the ex-president, arguing that inflation rose to as high as 28 percent, compounding the pain and economic woes of Nigerians.

He also referred to the lack of democratic values that precipitated the former president’s administration.

However, when queried about the content of the ex-president’s letter explaining that the country is going through a “perilous time,”  the spokesman of the APC-PCC went back to presenting the negative statistics that existed under Obasanjo as a defence to the question.

Bwala, speaking virtually from London, agreed with the ex-president over his terminology in describing the state of the nation as going through a “perilous time.”

He said, “Yes, I agree with him that the last eight years have been a perilous time. It is a time when Nigerians would rather not think about it or believe that it will ever happen again, which is a reason I think that Nigerians are not going to vote APC again in this election, so he is right in that.

However, where he is incorrect is in the fourth to last paragraph of that letter, where he refers to Peter Obi as a needle with a robe string in it.The crux of his letter is where he says he can be easily controlled when he goes wrong.

According to Bwala, Obasanjo is only looking for a proxy to fulfil his defeated ambition of a third term. He believes that the idea that Obi is more susceptible to control makes him the perfect match for his third-term agenda.

“What he is saying is that Peter Obi is a puppet, and that is why he should be voted for. At any given time he goes wrong, I guarantee you people that I am going to control him this way,” he explained. “But let us go to the fact of the issue: Obasanjo lacks the moral capital to become the father of the nation.”

He complained about the “meddlesome nature” of the former president, arguing that he had found it to be a habit of interfering in other presidents’ affairs.

Bwala also complained about the selfish style of Obasanjo’s criticism over other administrations. “If you look at the letter… he rated his own administration from 1999 to 2007 as impeccable, but he could not find any element of praise to give to any administration after him. And he didn’t even praise the administrations that came before him.”

“Obasanjo believes that he has the celestial powers to predict the future of Nigeria and the leadership of Nigeria,” he added. “Unfortunately for him, that attitude is unethical for democratic ideals and governance.”

He went on to say that the future of the country is entirely dependent on the collective choice of Nigerians, not the content of a letter written by the former president.

On a personality basis, Bwala argued that the former president lacked any form of moral capital. He presented the bankruptcy state that the ex-president was in prior to being nominated as the presidential candidate of the PDP in 1998 and how wealthy he became after leaving office in 2007. Taking into cognizance his massive investment in his Ota farm, presidential library, and other investments.

“Point number two,” he said. “Is that people came together and donated their resources and their infrastructure to make him a president

“Even in 2003, when his vice presidential candidate threatened to quit, people came together and pleaded with him, and he decided to go on with him.”

He summed it up by saying that the former president doesn’t even have the moral right to suggest a presidential or vice presidential candidate.

When the anchor, Seun Okinbaloye, inquired to find out why Atiku Abubakar still preferred to visit Obasanjo, taking into account the non-relevant facts presented by him, Bwala said that Abubakar only paid him a visit out of respect and courtesy.

Responding to perceived criticism of Obi’s puppetry of Obasanjo if elected president, Kenneth Okonkwo stated that “there is a saying that the greatest place in hell is reserved for those who keep silent in times of moral crisis. Nigeria is going bad, not because of the violence of the bad people but because of the silence of the good ones.

“Obasanjo has refused to keep silent in times of moral crisis.”

Okonkwo, in defence of the former president, argued that he saw it as necessary to avoid going to hell by speaking up even when others were quiet.

“Obasanjo wants to escape going to hell by being an accomplice to corrupt leaders, because any nation that votes for corrupt leaders is no longer a victim but an accomplice.”

“Now Obasanjo has never kept silence in times of moral crisis.”

Kenneth supported the endorsement of Obi by Obasanjo and argued that the good qualities of Obi made the former president throw his weight behind the former Anambra State governor.