• As letter says LP candidate has
‘edge’ over Tinubu, Atiku, others
• APC PCC ‘pities’ Obi over ‘worthless’
• ‘OBJ can’t win polling unit, ward in
Abeokuta for Obi’
• Former President merely expressing
personal opinion, says PDP
Worthless! This was how All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Council (APC PCC) described yesterday’s endorsement of Labour Party presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The former leader, who over the years has become renown for his ‘letter interventions’ at the eve of general elections, reached for the controversial pen once more, yesterday, scribbling an endorsement of Obi.
Fifty-four days to the polls, Obasanjo declared Obi has an edge over APC’s Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Peoples Democratic Party’s Atiku Abubakar and New Nigeria Peoples Party’s Rabiu Kwankwaso, among others.
The letter titled: ‘My Appeal To All Nigerians, Particularly Young Nigerians’, was released in Abeokuta, Ogun State, by Obasanjo’s Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Kehinde Akinyemi.
The former President said his decision was informed by his interactions with the major constants, whom he referred to as his “mentees”.
He noted that Nigeria needs “selfless, courageous, honest, patriotic, in short, outstanding leadership with character and fear of God beyond what we have had in recent past.”
He lamented that the last seven and a half years of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration “have no doubt been eventful and stressful for many Nigerians.
“We have moved from frying pan to fire and from mountain top to the valley. Our leaders have done their best, but their best had turned out to be not the best for Nigeria and Nigerians at home and abroad. For most Nigerians, it was hell on earth,” he said.
Obasanjo urged the need to “brace ourselves for the remaining few months of the current administration and pray and work very hard for an immediate better future – future of liberation, restoration and great hope and expectation.”
Explaining the reason behind his decision, he 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.”
Obasanjo continued: “Others, like all of us, have what they can contribute to the new dispensation, to liberation, restoration and salvaging of Nigeria collectively. One other important point to make about Peter is that he is a needle with thread attached to it from North and South and he may not get lost.
“In other words, he has people who can pull his ears, if and when necessary. Needless to say that he has a young and able running mate with clean track record of achievement both in public and private life.”
BUT rather than be flattered by Obasanjo’s supposed patriotic admonition, the APC PCC, yesterday, declared: “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.”
In a statement, Bayo Onanuga (Director, Media and Publicity) went down memory lane, noting: “Chief Obasanjo similarly endorsed Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Peoples Democratic Party 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 Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu will equally beat Obi by a large margin.”
The PCC “particular” took “notice of the part of the endorsement statement where Chief Obasanjo said none of the presidential candidates is a saint. We want to state here that Chief Obasanjo is not a good judge of character. He is a man who considers only himself as the all-knowing saint in Nigeria. Over the years, Chief Obasanjo has also convinced himself that integrity, honesty and all good virtues begin and end with him.”
The statement added: “We recall that in 2003 and 2007 general elections when he was a sitting President, Obasanjo used all the coercive instruments of State at his disposal to railroad people into elective offices against the will of Nigerians as expressed at the polls. In 2007, he declared the polls a do or die affair after he failed in his bid to amend our constitution to have a third term.
“From our records, President Obasanjo has not successfully made anyone win election in Nigeria since then. Not even in Ogun State can anyone rely on his support or endorsement to become a governor or councillor.
“We pity Peter Gregory Obi as we are confident that Chief Obasanjo can not win his polling unit and ward in Abeokuta for Obi in the coming Presidential election on February 25, 2023.
“Chief Obasanjo’s endorsement is not a political currency Mr. Peter Obi can spend anywhere in Nigeria because he is not a political force, even in his part of the country.”
Meanwhile, in less fiery tone, the Atiku/Okowa Presidential Campaign Organisation described the endorsement of Obi as Obasanjo’s personal wish.
Spokesperson for the campaign, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement, said: “While former President Obasanjo is entitled to his personal opinion, as remarkable as it may appear, it remains individualistic and cannot redirect Nigerians from their determination to rally with the more experienced, more proficient and more accepted presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, to rescue and rebuild our nation from the APC misrule.”
According to Ologbondiyan, “what is surprising to majority of Nigerians is that in the face of the alarming challenges facing the nation, which requires a tried and tested hand, former President Obasanjo is suggesting a candidate that has not had any experience in governance at the national level.
“In any case, Chief Obasanjo’s opinion cannot sway Nigerians who can easily remember how he endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari, whose administration, he (Obasanjo) now describes as ‘stressful years for many Nigerians’, during which our nation ‘moved from frying pan to fire and from mountain top to the valley’.”
He added: “Atiku 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, but by record of ability and performance, authentic vision, honesty and character; physical and mental capacity; the very indices set by the former President.
“Every claim by former President Obasanjo on the success of his administration is a reflection of the performance of Atiku Abubakar as his Vice President and Chairman of the National Economic Council during which our nation achieved unprecedented economic growth to become one of the fastest growing economies in the world.”