Just a couple of days ago, after Alhaji Atiku Abubakar 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 Anambra 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 Obi as the running mate of 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 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.
If the governors reject and make Atiku to drop Peter Ob., 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 Atiku, 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.
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 famished lioness with hungry cubs, pounce on the new bride with their henchmen from the EFCC. 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.
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 Yar’Adua’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 Atiku once he is compelled to pick someone else instead of his preferred choice.
The opportunity is here with us. Let us have faith in ourselves and our kinsman and remember it is not the war without that destroys a people, but the battle within. Many are lurking around to snatch it. A stitch in time, they say, saves nine.
Onyedi, Founder/President, Diamond-Crest for Youth Education Foundation, Kaduna writes via [email protected]