Why I tipped Mr Peter Obi as running mate to Alhaji Atiku Abukakar

Peter Obi

Editor’s Note:

Long time YNaija contributor ThankGod Ukachukwu has become an important voice in the Nigerian political scene and we have come to respect his perspectives on the inner workings on Nigeria’s political elite. He graciously chose to explain his prediction that not only Atiku Abubakar would win the PDP primaries, but he would also choose former Anambra governor Peter Obi as his running mate.

On June 23, 2018, uneventfully on Twitter, I tipped Mr Peter Obi as the running mate to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who was basically the only viable and formidable presidential candidate I could see as far as choice of presidential candidate of People’s Democratic Party was concerned. Here is the tweet:

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Every other candidate was inconsequential relative to President Buhari based on my understanding of the politics of the fourth republic. Before Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki (the seemingly looming dark horse) declared, Atiku was the only threat to President Buhari’s re-election ambition. Anyone who wanted to defeat Buhari needed a platform as big as PDP to counter All Progressive Congress 8and should posses personal capacity to trump Buhari’s populism, his greatest strength. When Atiku returned to PDP in December 2017, early enough to secure his base in the party, it was obvious to me, he was going to fly PDP’s presidential flag for 2019 presidential election.

On returning to the party, he became virile and vocal against the Buhari administration and injected life and much needed energy into a crestfallen PDP which was struggling. Moreover, Atiku is the only politician in Nigeria at the moment that has the political sagacity, larger-than-life personae and cult of personality which are basic prerequisites to challenge Buhari successfully. As the national conventions of political parties drew closer, and before many of PDP presidential aspirants defected from APC and declared, Atiku had already declared among a few other PDP presidential contestants and I had no doubt he would win the primary. Predicting who would be his VP was not borne out of any psychic powers but a result of political savviness and in depth knowledge of Nigerian politics since the fourth republic and as an active current affairs analyst in the current dispensation.

Two years ago, in 2016, I began to see Mr Peter Obi as a potential vice-president or first president of Igbo extraction of Nigeria. The other politician I had envisaged could fit that profile perfectly was Prof Chukwuma Soludo. But Soludo wandered into APC and lost the plot. When Peter Obi defected from APGA to PDP, I saw him towing the path of VP. I wasn’t really his fan, in fact, I am not a fan of any politician, none is my role model per se, so basically I admire leadership qualities from an array of politicians that align with my political ideology and leaning. So I didn’t have any special interest in Peter Obi. However, his appearance at The Platform in 2016, on October 1st 2016 was groundbreaking and caught my attention.

The soft spoken man, who ex-President Obasanjo had joked has the squealing voice of women, gave a powerful speech at the The Platform which took the nation by storm and created a furore, attracting condemnation from his traducers and applause from his supporters and admirers. In fact his speech angered Buhari’s supporters because it overshadowed Buhari’s independence speech and took away all focus and shine from the president in what was only his second independence speech. Given the consternation which Obi’s speech generated, I got myself acquainted with details of the speech (didn’t watch it live), watch the videos on youtube and followed the conversation on the microblogging website twitter. And then I proceeded to pen down an op-ed on elombah.com published in two parts (part 1 & 2) in which I interrogated the cogent issues and advanced Peter Obi as “The Change Nigerians Seek” (title of the article). I will rehearse that article in two paragraphs with my thoughts two years ago in quotes.

At The Platform, Peter Obi’s “admonition centred on account of his stewardship as a former governor of Anambra State.” “He entertained his audience like a fiery preacher and took them on a journey into his world of espoused theory and theory-in-use.” “He illustrated with real life examples stemming from his tenure” as governor of Anambra state. “His leadership was centred on frugality and lean management approach (espoused theory) implemented through drastic reduction of cost of governance, elimination of ostentatious and flamboyant lifestyles of our politicians, reduction of waste and quality management, and entrenchment of a savings culture (theory-in-use) for the state he presided over.” “He cited examples of less number of cars in his convoy and that of political appointees, elimination of unnecessary owambes and thank-you-for-coming gifts rampant in government houses, unnecessary hotel accommodation when he is outside the state on official assignments, use of commercial flights against private jets and ensuring that state revenues are channelled to developmental activities.” “He cited example of governors buying champagnes worth N500, 000 in a poor country where such amounts can offset salaries of 20 civil servants.”

I juxtaposed his lean management governance style with that President Buhari’s who only pays lip-service to lowering the cost of running governance. He left Anambra State a savings of N75 billion and Anambra was the least indebted state in Nigeria when he completed his tenure with a plethora of projects for the state. He made ex-President Obasanjo sleep in a hotel on a presidential visit instead of spending N500m on a presidential guesthouse.

I concluded with these words: “Peter Obi reminds me of one Igbo adage which states that; you cannot cover the sun with your hands.” “Go and tell the people where you live (your yard people), tell your friends, preach it everywhere, Peter Obi is the change Nigerians seek.”

A man with this pedigree, an embodiment of truly austere lifestyle, frugal and lean management governance with an intimidating CV, dotted with education received from world’s premier educational institutions, Harvard inclusive, verifiable leadership acumen is the most qualified person (from my perspective) from the South East for VP should any presidential candidate look to the South East for a running mate. That was the premise on which I tipped Peter Obi as potential VP to Atiku Abubakar three months to the fulfilment of the prediction. So I’m no prophet, I only analysed the politics of the day rationally and objectively and like a big but sure bet, it paid off.

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