Road to 2023: Why Nigerians should support Obi in 2023 –Obasi
Former Deputy National Secretary of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Jerry Obasi, in this interview gives reasons why Nigerians should support the Labour Party(LP) presidential candidate, Peter Obi.
Obasi who dumped the party for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) earlier this year, said he was strongly supporting Obi for president because the former Anambra governor has everything it would take to repair and reposition Nigeria for good.
Why do you think the people want Peter Obi to be their president in 2023?
It is commonsensical that Nigerians need him at this material time in their political history. First and foremost, he was governor in Anambra State though under APGA. He ran two times as governor. And in our political history, most of the governors are ‘squandermaniacs’, a lot of imprudence with the scarce resources. But Obi has been able to single himself out among the comity of governors and leaders in Nigeria. A governor who left a whooping N75 billion and about same in investment for a state, I don’t think any governor could do that. And Obi left without any debt anywhere, either external or internal kind of borrowing. Obi, until he left, paid pensions and gratuities of civil servants. Obi met the educational system in Anambra in a near decayed state but he left and Anambra became the first among every other state in WAEC both in Nigeria and if I may be correct, in West Africa. If I look at the standard Obi set in Anambra, I pray that other governors will emulate him. You have seen Obiano. He did his terms and left. The day he left office was the same day he was arrested by the EFCC at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos. And which then means that he did not match Obi’s records. Hardly can you get any governor that can match Obi’s records. Again, in terms of appreciation, if you work with Obi as a leader one way or the other, he will not forget you; one way or the other he will appreciate you; he will remember. The little Obi has got as a person, he has wisely invested. He has been head of different boards of companies both in Nigeria and abroad but you may not know because he does not pride it. And Obi has the magic wand that Nigeria needs. Among the three major presidential aspirants that are running today, it is very obvious that their only campaign today is what they say about Obi. They have nothing else to tell Nigerians if not to criticise Peter Obi. So, all these things are records that cannot be matched. Because of space and time, I don’t want to say much. But it will be impossible to defeat Obi in this 2023 election. If you say that Obi’s supporters are social media supporters, in fact, the present electoral process is supportive of social media because the voting pattern is social media compliant where if you’re voting, you need electronic gadgets to cast your vote and where immediately you’re casting your vote, it is showing. Hardly will there be any state where Obi has no followers and most of these followers are volunteers. Obi has not even begun to do politics properly. I am not saying that Obi will not bring in experienced politicians to galvanise these support because he actually needs experienced politicians to do that. But today, everything you see happening about Peter Obi is just support groups and volunteer groups including myself. I am known as a notable APGA person from where I joined the PDP as Fidelis Nwankwo was running to be governor; I supported him until what happened in PDP happened; a similar reason why Obi left the PDP was now the reason why Nwankwo left and now said I want to continue with him until he says ‘to your tenth oh! Israel’. That is the journey we are today in the Labour Party and since he joined the Labour Party in Ebonyi State, people have heaved a sigh of relief because the level of lack of internal democracy in the PDP, the level of their lack of transparency is one issue but too many. The level of injustice in the PDP has created room for most of us to be supportive of this ‘Obidient Movement’ led by Peter Obi and in Ebonyi also, this ‘Obidient Movement’ as also led by Fidelis Nwankwo. And if you look at the CV of Fidelis Nwankwo and compare to the CV of other persons there, you can’t compare. Nwankwo has been the former Chairman of Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State. He has been former Managing Director of NIGERCEM of all places, and then he has also been former Minister of State for Health. He has also been a national commissioner with INEC.
What is actually happening in Ebonyi State regarding the alleged threat by the governor that the state won’t vote for Obi?
It is quite unfortunate that such a story is coming from my governor. I am not holding brief for my governor and I am not licking his lips because he has his media group. But to me, that statement is very extreme and unwarranted. I will vote for the Labour Party and I am from Ebonyi. I have family and I have friends and brothers who will vote for the Labour Party. If you like, put guns on their heads. Then, there are also all manner of persons. Does he mean that all these support groups that are clamouring for Fidelis that are on the traffic in the social media, always doing road walk for Labour Party, the volunteer groups, the students group; the Labour Party has already adopted Fide as their candidate; is he now saying that these persons are not going to vote for Labour? They will, actually. But you see, with the way the Labour Party chairman, Abure, is going about the Labour Party ticket in Ebonyi, it is to me now laying credence and support to that thing said by our governor. In Ebonyi State, the present holder of the gubernatorial ticket in Ebonyi is the state chairman, Splendour Eze. And Splendour Eze, for the umpteenth time, has said that ‘If I am to relinquish the ticket, it is only on the condition that I want Fidelis Nwankwo to run as governor.’ But still, the National Chairman is paying deaf ears to it and continues to insist that he wants to give the ticket to Edon. Now, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ebonyi State chapter, has also led a delegation to the National Chairman in Abuja and said, ‘you people gave us assignment and said we should go and liaise with the Labour Party in Ebonyi State and bring out a popular candidate that can win election.’ After this tortuous assignment given to them by the national body at the instance of the National President, Ayuba Waba, they now finished and led a delegation to Abuja and said ‘We have actually completed the assignment you gave us sir. This is our findings: Fidelis Nwankwo is the most popular person today, as long as the gubernatorial question is concerned, not even in the Labour Party, that he is the person that we are going to support and now he has joined the Labour Party, paid for his forms, filled and returned but still the national chairman, Abure, doesn’t look at it as if it is anything. He continues to insist that it must be Edward Nkwegu. Now, other critical stakeholders who are Ebonyians, who have sympathy for Labour Party, who are also engrossed in this sympathy because of Peter Obi and galvanising it because of the involvement of Fidelis Nwankwo, and they have talked to Abure but he is still insisting that it must be Edward Nkwegu.
But the first argument is this: Abure, are you from Ebonyi State? The answer is no. Abure you have state executives in Ebonyi which you mandated and in a very short time, the leadership of the Labour Party in Ebonyi under Splendour Eze did wonderfully well within that short time but you refused to listen to him. Before I forget, Edward Nkwegu and his group have met Splendour Eze but this person insisted and said ‘I am not going to relinquish the ticket. I will only do so if Fidelis Nwankwo is going to run as the guber candidate of the Labour Party in Ebonyi State.’ Despite this, he (Abure) is still insisting. In the course of this, because the state chairman insisted that he was not going to succumb to that gloomy and hatchet man’s job being acted by the National Chairman of Labour Party, Abure, ordinarily is supposed to play the role of a father and should listen to his executives in Ebonyi but he is not doing so. He has sworn to destroy the Labour Party in Ebonyi State. And you see, Igbo people say that when one finger touches the oil, it will affect others. Now, Abure has decided to destroy the party in Ebonyi State. The first thing he did in Ebonyi was to suspend the state chairman of the party who has almost a near cult followership in the state in a dramatic show, in a blue day robbery, in the height of injustice, in an undemocratic and tyrannical way. In an undemocratic means, he removed the chairman. And brought people from nowhere at the instance of Edward Nkwegu to foist them on the people. What are you doing? You are destroying the Labour Movement in Ebonyi State. And remember that Obi’s storming into Labour has changed the narratives and body language of Labour as a political party. And what is that narrative that he brought into Labour? It is the narrative of transparency, democracy, prudence and exemplary leadership. This thing that Abure is doing is not a semblance of Peter Obi from what we know today in Nigeria and it is not what Nigerians are supposed to hear of the Labour Party. And Abure himself will not pretend not to know. He also knows that with Edward Nkwegu that the Labour Party will not score up to five percent of the votes even in Edward Nkwegu’s political ward. Then, he wants to foist him. I don’t know what actually the issue is; maybe he was given money. From where Abure was coming from five months ago and from where he finds himself today, will Abure now say that he is so wretched now that it must be the Ebonyi money or the money Edward Nkwegu will give to him that will make him now a millionaire which God had already made him? So, I use this opportunity now to call on the major and critical stakeholders of the Labour Party both in Ebonyi State and the entire country and even in the Diaspora to call Abure to order before he destroys the Labour Party because the South East is the major catchment area of Peter Obi where we are supposed to move as God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit but Abure now has injected the spirit of god the devil in the Ebonyi State chapter of Labour Party. And we cannot keep quiet for that to happen because it must adversely affect the Labour Party in Ebonyi State, take it or leave it. Cynical minded persons will say forget about it but in the end, what we are doing is politics that needs public appeal, popularity. So, we are not going to mortgage the popularity of Fidelis Nwankwo and Obi in Ebonyi because of the fact that Abure has chosen to eat inside the pot of porridge. This is the height of political insensitivity and rascality orchestrated by Abure and we cannot keep watching. It is a vexed issue. At the last meeting we had, we actually challenged ourselves and said let us see how Ebonyi people will not vote for the Labour Party; let us see how Ebonyi people will vote for a political party that has always brought pains to Nigerians, that has always brought pains to Ebonyi people. And let us see how Ebonyi people will vote for a party that has blatantly refused to look at the South East.
Were you surprised when Governor Umahi dumped the PDP for the APC, the same party he severally criticised and vowed never to join?
I was surprised in one way and not surprised in the other way. But if you remember, I criticised the APC for receiving Umahi whom it once called a demon. The same Umahi the APC said was a demon, it received today as their golden god. I criticised it very heavily. I am not surprised. But the truth remains this: Umahi became governor courtesy of the PDP and the good and hardworking people of Ebonyi State. Umahi became governor only through the help of God and the ‘Obidient’ people of Ebonyi State who are today saying that they want to vote for Peter Obi and Fidelis Nwankwo. There is nothing that has changed in Ebonyi because Umahi joined the APC, nothing. And I felt that the story to the APC was to become president which the APC vehemently refused. In fact, in APC’s programmes and agenda, the South East was not actually in their common agenda. It was not there at all. So, that dummy of APC and Tinubu will sell but not in Ebonyi State. The story today that is told everywhere in Ebonyi State is the story of Labour Party and the story of Fidelis Nwankwo.