Every nation no matter how great today has had its own share of challenges which were overcome at critical moments by redemptive acts. The 2023 general elections appear to be that moment for Nigeria’s own redemptive act. This is particularly so for the presidential election. The three leading candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Labour Party (LP) in Atiku Abubakar, Bola Tinubu and Peter Obi respectively are men of political worth who have one way or the other impacted Nigeria in the recent past. However, at this critical turn in our history, a dispassionate and critical analysis of the trio vis-à-vis the state of our nation becomes necessary for us to move forward.
As we negotiate Nigeria’s future, let us avoid another fault start especially as woven around the candidacy of Peter Obi. So much hype has been built around him, but the truth is that any vote for him is a waste. He has raised the bar with his campaign, but that is where it ends as it will not translate into electoral advantage for him. Obi’s homeland which is the South-East is in turmoil and the people are not likely going to vote with their sit-at-home orders. Also Obi seems to be alone as no known political associate of his: commissioner, legislator or local council chairman, when he was governor of Anambra State is with him or speaking up for him right now. He has got some favourable mentions in opinion polls, but that is entirely a virtual engagement where less than five percent of the voters are active. The polls are therefore not a reflection of Nigeria’s electoral situation. The frightening reality is that every vote for Obi is a plus for APC’ s Bola Tinubu and that will be a fast way to destroy Nigeria.
Tinubu with his deteriorating health condition is a disaster waiting to happen. Tinubu is mentally unfit to run Nigeria. Also, the APC is a conspiracy that will ruin Nigeria. Our tragic experience since 2015 shows that the APC is “project hell”. The APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket is a one way ticket to the islamization of Nigeria not minding the nation’s secular destiny. Tinubu’s running mate, Kashim Shettima is a known Boko Haram patron in whose home as a sitting governor a wanted Boko Haram commander Kabiru Sokoto was found and arrested. Shettima’s role in the Chibok Girls episode is a sore point in our national life. With Tinubu’s imminent mental infirmity, Shettima will take over government in case of a Tinubu presidency. Then Nigeria would be done in by a terrorist president. God forbid.
This is where the Atiku/Okowa ticket becomes Nigeria’s redemptive act. Atiku is an experienced administrator having served as vice president and a step away from the presidency. He is mentally and physically fit. He is a detribalized, liberal and Pan-Nigerian politician who has a vast network of goodwill and followership cutting across the nation’s 744 local government areas. He is a leader’s leader who understands Nigeria’s multi-ethnic temperament. Accusations have been thrown at Atiku and they remain mere accusations as he has never been convicted for any offence. His courage ensured that our democracy survived till this moment when he stopped Olusegun Obasanjo’s third term agenda. The reason Obasanjo hates him so much. Atiku is campaigning on issues and has refrained from abusing opponents. His campaign document “my pact with Nigerians” remains a road map to the making of a new Nigeria. He is so far the only candidate who has engaged Nigeria the way it ought to be.
Atiku’s choices have been in the best interest of Nigeria. First is his choice of a running mate in Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State. Okowa is a hybrid phenomenon by being of South-South provenance and of South-East identity. His emergence will assuage and erase Igbo feeling of marginalization just as it will also consolidate the place of the South-South in Nigeria. The ticket is balanced in its Muslim/Christian character. Governor Okowa is one of the most astute, competent and articulate politicians of this generation. He like Atiku understands Nigeria’s development challenges and the duo will make the difference. Nigerians who are desirous of making our country great again should vote for the Atiku/Okowa ticket in the presidential election. This is the only way to redeem Nigeria.