There are strong indications that the endorsement of Labour Party (LP) Presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, by former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, is unsettling the ruling All Progressive Party (APC) and its presidential candidate, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu.
Recall that Chief Obasanjo had, in his 2023 New Year message, described Mr. Obi as his mentee and that the former Anambra State governor has an edge in the February 25, 2023 election.
“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.
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“Others like all of us have what they can collectively contribute to the new dispensation to liberation, restoration and salvaging of Nigeria.
“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. He has a young and able running mate with a clean track record of achievement both in public and private life,” Obasanjo had written.
But Bayo Onanuga, Director, Media & Publicity, APC Presidential Campaign Council, in a statement he issued, on Sunday, January 1, dismissed the endorsement, saying it was worthless.
Mr. Onanuga’s statement said, “We read with amusement the endorsement of Mr. Peter Obi, the Labour Party Presidential Candidate by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in his New Year message on Sunday.
“Following calls by journalists from various media houses who asked for our reaction we decided to make this preliminary statement, though we didn’t consider the so-called endorsement to be of any value.
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“We respect the democratic right of former President Obasanjo to support and endorse any candidate of his choice in any election.
“Except that he made it known formally in his new year message, any discerning political watcher in Nigeria knows that Chief Obasanjo’s preference for Peter Obi is expected. He had earlier stated his position at various public events, the last being at the 70th birthday anniversary of Chief John Nwodo, former President of Ohaneze Ndigbo in Enugu.
“We make bold to say that our party and candidate, Asíwájú Bola Ahmed Tinubu will not lose sleep over Obasanjo’s move, as Obasanjo is notorious for always opposing progressive political forces, as he did against MKO Abiola in 1993.
“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.
“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 25 February, 2023.
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“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.
“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 Asíwájú Bola Ahmed Tinubu will equally beat Obi by a large margin.
“We take a particular 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”, he said.
But some sources in Tinubu’s camp, who preferred to be anonymous, claimed that Obasanjo’s endorsement of Peter Obi was giving the Tinubu’s camp some headaches. The sources maintained that they would rather the former President remained silent like his co-ex-Heads of States rather than go public with his views. One of the sources, however, said they were upbeat by the endorsement as they were sure of victory in the coming polls.