2023: Ripples Over Obi’s Endorsement

2023: <strong>Ripples Over Obi’s Endorsement</strong>
  • APC, PDP reject Obasanjo’s backing of LP presidential candidate

By Muyiwa Oyinola, Abuja

Reactions have continued to trail former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s endorsement of the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, LP, for the February 25 Presidential Election.

Obasanjo in his New Year message released Sunday by his spokesman, Kehinde Akinyemi, said, “None of the contestants is a saint but when one compares their character, antecedent, their understanding, knowledge, discipline, and vitality that they can bring to bear and the great efforts required to stay focused on the job, particularly looking at where the country is today and with the experience on the job that I personally had, Peter Obi as a mentee has an edge”.

But in a statement released immediately after Obasanjo made his choice, the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, described the endorsement as ‘worthless’.

Tinubu gave the verdict in a statement issued by Bayo Onanuga, Director, Media and Publicity, APC Presidential Campaign Council, PCC, in Abuja.

“We read with amusement the endorsement of Mr Peter Obi, the Labour Party presidential candidate by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in his New Year message on Sunday.

“Following calls by journalists from various media houses who asked for our reaction, we decided to make this preliminary statement, though we didn’t consider the so-called endorsement to be of any value.

“We respect the democratic right of former President Obasanjo to support and endorse any candidate of his choice in any election, except that he made it known formally in his New Year message.

“Any discerning political watcher in Nigeria knows that Chief Obasanjo’s preference for Peter Obi is expected”, he said.

This, he said, was especially because Obasanjo had earlier stated his position in various public events, the last being at the 70th birthday of Chief John Nwodo, a former President of Ohaneze Ndigbo in Enugu.

Onanuga said that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the APC 2023 presidential candidate would not lose sleep over Obasanjo’s endorsement because he was notorious for always opposing progressive political forces.

He said that the former president did same against MKO Abiola in 1993 presidential election.

“The endorsement is actually worthless because the former president does not possess any political goodwill or leverage anywhere in Nigeria to make anyone win a councillorship election.

“Let alone win a presidential election, he is a political paperweight, he is also not a democrat anyone should be proud to be associated with”, Onanuga said.

 “Not even in Ogun can anyone rely on his support or endorsement to become a governor or councilor.

“We pity Peter Obi as we are confident that Obasanjo cannot win his polling unit and ward in Abeokuta for Obi in the coming presidential election on Feb.25, 2023.

He said that Obasanjo similarly endorsed Atiku Abubakar, Peoples Democratic Party ,PDP, presidential candidate in 2019 against President Muhammadu Buhari.

“Atiku was walloped by Buhari with a wide margin in the election; history will repeat itself in February as our candidate Tinubu will equally beat Obi by a large margin.

In the same vein, the Atiku-Okowa Presidential Campaign Organisation in its reaction maintained that the “subjective support” for  Obi, by Obasanjo is his personal wish and not the wishes of majority of Nigerians.

The Spokesperson of the organisation, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, said in a statement in Abuja that Obasanjo’s wish did not reflect the opinion or position of overwhelming majority of Nigerians across the country.

He, however, said while the former president was entitled to his personal opinion; as remarkable as it may appear, it remained individualistic.

He added that the wish could not redirect Nigerians from their determination to rally with the more experienced, more proficient and more accepted Presidential Candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, to rescue and rebuild the nation.

“Our campaign holds that none of the Presidential candidates has the experience, capacity, tenacity of purpose, presence of mind and readiness to serve like Abubakar.

“Abubakar remains the most widely accepted candidate, whose choice is not predicated by sectional, tribal, ethnic or religious sentiments or the endorsement of any individual, high or low.

“This is predicated by record of ability and performance, authentic vision, honesty and character; physical and mental capacity; the very indices set by the former President,” he explained.

Ologbondiyan said it was instructive to state that every claim by Obasanjo on the success of his administration is a reflection of the performance of Abubakar as his Vice-President and Chairman of the National Economic Council.

This, he described as the period during which our nation achieved unprecedented economic growth to become one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

Ologbobdiyan said the PDP campaign team therefore urges Nigerians not to be distracted by subjective opinions.

He also advised the electorate to remain focused on the resolve to salvage the nation by electing Abubakar as the next president of Nigeria on Feb. 25 this year. 

Also reacting, former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi slammed  Obasanjo over his endorsement, saying the former president is part of the problems the nation is currently battling with, adding therefore he should not come out and present himself as a problem solver.

Speaking in an interview with Channels Television, Akinyemi, said Obasanjo has had his tenure hence he should go home and just be quiet.

“Please don’t let us spend this programme on General Obasanjo’s letter or ideas because some of us believe that he also is part of the foundation of the problems that we have in this country, and one of the things that I have said is that once you have occupied that post of President and you have served your term, please go home and be like General Gowon, be like General Abdusalam, just be quiet. 

Meanwhile, a pro-unity group, the Movement for Election of Nigeria President of Igbo Extraction, commended the former president for unequivocally advocating power shift to the youth.

The group equally extolled the elder statesman for his outright endorsement of the Presidential Candidate of Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi, with outstanding reasons.

The National Convener of the movement, Mr Vincent Ezekwueme, said in a statement yesterday in Enugu that Obasanjo had always stood for what was right, fair, just, credible, commendable and promotion of Nigeria’s unity.

Ezekwueme made the remarks in reaction to Obasanjo’s call on Nigerian youths to vote massively for Obi in order to take control of their country, given their massive numbers.

According to him, Obi remains the best candidate and he possesses the wherewithal to revamp and transform the country in tandem with the philosophy and ideology of our founding fathers.

“The reason why we are being governed as fools is because good people sit back and do nothing”, he said.

The national convener described Obasanjo as a unifier, patriot, statesman, conscience of the nation, bridge builder and selfless king maker.

“Obasanjo has, through his patriotism, selfless services and sacrifices to the nation and humanity, engraved his name in hearts and minds of Nigerians and beyond.

“As globally acclaimed peace-maker, his good motive to ensure peaceful co-existence of Nigerians, good governance, inclusiveness, justice, equality, equity and egalitarian society, will be accomplished.

“We appeal to other patriots and well meaning Nigerians to toe the path of Obasanjo and support Obi’s presidential aspiration as he has desiderata towards solving numerous challenges bedeviling the country”.

“We wish to reiterate our earlier appeal to G-5 governors for the interest of the country, justice, equity and good governance to join hands with Obi to rescue and redeem our dear country.

“This is in tandem with their conscience and demand”, he appealed.

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