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Peter Obi, the youths and politics as civic duty

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Controversial election and the future of Nigeria, By Emma Nwosu

By Emma. Nwosu

One is in support of the stand of Southern governors that the Presidency should come to Southern Nigeria in 2023 and of the stand of Oha n’eze Ndigbo (backed by the Afenifere, the prime Yoruba socio-cultural-political organization, among others) that it is the turn of the South-East, on the basis of contribution, federal character, equity and all.

There is no reason, both in performance and in rotation, for the North and, in particular, the Fulani, to seek to retain the Presidency in 2023, as if the country’s sovereignty has been surrendered to them.

It is more absurd that Atiku Abubakar, the protagonist of rotation (who, in 2014, led some Northern Governors to derail his party, the PDP and Dr. Jonathan’s re-election, in order to force the Presidency back to the North, claiming that Jonathan had overstayed into the turn of the North) would no longer recognize rotation when it became the turn of another region! Nigerians should beware that this is the trait of a bully and a dictator.

But the greatest reason for supporting Peter Obi, the youths and the Labour Party is not rotation but the cultural change and paradigm shift they are bringing to bear on Nigerian politics which had gone to the dogs. It is culture (the way of life, the way of doing things) that makes the difference in the life of every society and not just the abundance of human and natural resources.

Nigeria has oil and all kinds of solid minerals, in addition to a large, youthful, population, but is nowhere near Japan or Singapore, for example, which have little other than the abundance of visionary, prudent and dedicated leaders and citizens who see politics as civic duty (responsibility for public good) which is what Obi & Co. are selling – against cash-and-carry, arrogant, profligate, politicians who have squandered our assets and, seemingly, conquered and rendered our people helpless, hopeless and resigned to fate, while grinding the country with mountainous moral and financial corruption.

Peter Obi is well-known as an apostle of politics as civic duty and not for aggrandizement. He is seen as visionary, Spartan, selfless, humble, clear-headed, strict, tenacious, astute, frugal and prudent, with an exemplary leadership track record, in the private sector, as a businessman and in the public sector, as Governor of Anambra State.

Obi moved Anambra State up on all indices of development, without any preferential treatment for his clan. His investment of state funds was in manufacturing, in line with his advocacy for production. Unlike other governors, he retired without taking any benefits. He became the presidential candidate of the Labour Party on merit, without the buying of delegates.

In contrast, Bola Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar are lords of the manor who live off the state and are known for primitive accumulation. Each is reported to have bought his presidential candidacy with millions of Naira and Dollars that he will have to trample on the people to recoup a million times over, should he come to power. It is this transactional culture that defines the status quo.

Everything about Peter Obi is open, straight and transparent. We are sure of his place of birth – Agulu in Anambra State. We can vouch that he is married to Margaret alone, with two children. We know that he made clean money as a businessman.

We know that he is a graduate of Nigeria’s oldest autonomous university – the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) which remains one of the best. We know that, in addition to the UNN, he has attended both public sector-related and private sector-related cutting-edge courses at many of the World’s leading universities – like Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard and Northwestern.
In contrast, everything about Bola Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar is panel-beaten, chequered and controversial – from age, to place of origin, to family life and history, to education, to source of wealth, to career and what have you.

To those who understand the immutable relationship between transparency, frugality, savings, investment, gross domestic product and national income, Obi has everything needed to mobilize resources and engineer Nigeria from a country of anguish to a country of prosperity.

Obi’s record so speaks for him that well-meaning citizens, in general and the youths, in particular, are excitedly rallying around him for the challenge of salvaging the country from the mess of the predatory old guard, since his emergence from the shadows of the PDP to the Labour Party.

Youths are the ones brimming with ideas and energy and should be the powerhouse of the nation – never to be marginalized. They are the ones to break new grounds in science and technology, commerce and industry, arts and culture, entertainment and sports and whatever makes the society tick – if empowered. In war, they are the ones to lay down their lives in defending the country. Fortunately, they constitute the large majority of Nigeria’s population.

Unfortunately, however, not even their formal education could be guaranteed by the old guard. Schools and the quality of education are nothing to write home about. Public universities have often been shut and, currently, have remained closed since February, 2022. Nature abhors a vacuum. Having failed to harness the ideas and energy of the youth into positive objectives, they have been misapplied, here and there, to compound the country’s upheavals.

Now that disconsolate Nigerians, in general and the youths, in particular, have found their voice in Peter Obi, to take their fate in their hands, they deserve our utmost support. We should be happy that they are no longer ambivalent about elections (which rarely reflected the mind of the electorate, due to vote-buying and all kinds of rigging) but have trooped out to register to vote and to spend time and other resources to promote only candidates who possess the requisite energy and track record and who meet the gold standard for modern leaders.

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Just compare the everyday appearance, gait and energy of Peter Obi with those of Bola Tinubu or Atiku Abubakar, or his fielding of questions – with finesse and with facts and figures – with those of slurring Tinubu or Atiku. What about moral, educational and managerial antecedents? Who would you choose if you were a youth or a well-meaning Nigerian?
Why should the youths, who are in the large majority, continue to be ruled by the analogue, senile and predatory old guard who never demonstrated any interest in them? Even now, all the horse trading between Atiku and Wike or Shekarau and Kwakwanso or the old guard everywhere is about the sharing of booty in 2023 (each party taking the mind and votes of the electorate for granted) while public universities remain shut. The youths are never in the equation.

The old guard and their cronies – who wished them to remain laid back and only serve as thugs for crumbs – are reacting negatively to the boisterous youths, most of who have coalesced into the ‘OBI-dient’ Movement. Are bustle and audacity not common with youths and have they not been bottled up and fertilized for a long time, by the making of the same old guard?

What have they said that is as harsh or untrue as what highly-placed public officers (like Nasir El-Rufai and Babatunde Fashola, who have more duty of care) said to promote General Buhari and the APC, against Dr. Jonathan and the PDP? Why the tantrum?

For peace to reign, adversaries must rule their mouth and pen with facts. The Federal and state governments and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should not play games. For example, it is in bad taste to discontinue the Continuous Voter Registration exercise, more than six months to the 2023 elections, as if to disenfranchise millions of the youths. It is ominous to replace tested INEC commissioners and officers with politically-compromised people.

The times demand audacity and the youths are ready for war, having come to the knowledge that power must be taken and would never be shared by the implacable old guard. It would be terrible to bungle the 2023 elections. What would the PDP or the APC tell Nigerians, in general and the youths, in particular, anew, to retain the Presidency – unless the country is destined for perdition? Their cup of iniquity is full and they have to drink it.

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