“I am not an extension of anybody. I have my own opinions and have always said I think Peter [Obi] is the best candidate. All this has nothing to do with me.”
That was Ozonna, the 28-year-old UK-based artist son of Professor Chukwuma Soludo, perceivably repudiating his father on Facebook, after the Anambra governor unloaded on his kinsman, Peter Obi, for daring to seek the presidency for the same race they both belong.
While the public opposition of the younger Soludo to his father’s well-publicised opposition to Obi has received rave review from the support base of the Labour Party candidate, I do not see his rebuke of his father as a family feud. Yes, Ozonna may even return home to vote Obi if he’s a registered voter, but knocking his dad’s rant publicly is a way of attenuating the growing backlash the Soludo clan will have to contend with from the rank and file of Ndigbo for indeterminable time.
The burgeoning acrimony may however dissolve into an Obi victory, which Soludo said is far-fetched. Ceteri paribus (all other things being equal) is the logic of Economics, the field where Soludo earned his professorship, hence his deductive reasoning his kinsman won’t go far because he assumed all electoral indices as currently are will remain as they are till election day. That is how a book person must reason. But even at the level of book sense, isn’t ceteri paribus always in Economics equations because of the unpredictability of our existence. Who would have thought that the entire world would be on forced holiday for the most of 2020. Even Daddy G.O, who received the vision in 2019 of the world convulsing like a child with febrile seizure, didn’t know how it was going to happen. The man of God confessed he thought the world was going to suffer major natural disasters. But “koro” came and flattened everywhere. Streets of world capitals were deserted. Science failed spectacularly. Men ran back to God with their proverbial tail between their legs. Just so the Professor-Governor may know, all things are not always equal in most things in life, including presidential contests.
Certainly, with the way the Professor sounded off on Obi’s aspiration, he has a big dog in the presidential fight and his preferred choice to replace the fading presidency of General Buhari isn’t even the candidate of his party, APGA. He is either rooting for Senator Bola Tinubu of APC or Atiku Abubakar of PDP, one of the two he believes will be the next president. An audacious prediction? Not really. He spoke of structures, guess he meant both party and political–winning elections. But what structures were in place for Buhari to win the 2015 poll. His CPC had just a sitting governor in Nasarawa, Tanko Al-Makura, who was sustained and kept in office by then President Goodluck Jonathan, through Pius Anyim, then SGF, touted as a longstanding business associate of the now-Senator Al-Makura. Al-Makura had to repay Jonathan. Hurricane Buhari in 2015 still lost the state to the then-incumbent. But even before Tinubu’s ACN joined Buhari’s CPC with five governors, it was already settled that Buhari with his much-touted “clean” 12 million votes, from the 2011 poll, would be the presidential candidate of the proposed merger. Bola Tinubu had the structures, Buhari had a cult following. APC and Nigeria settled for the latter, though his CPC was largely an infant then.
Soludo said he was worried Obi’s likely sweep of South East would turn Ndigbo to a hermit nation post-May 2023, because the eventual victor of his imagination would likely treat his people the way General Buhari has, so far, by constantly reminding them in federal appointments that they are 5%. This is a valid concern.
But the outcomes of 2015 and 2019 do not mean Ndigbo have been mis-voting. In 2015, they gave the incumbent who could also a win their full support. In 2019, they gave Atiku who could have won and probably did their support. So, what’s wrong in investing in their own now? Did Rochas Okorocha, Ogbonaya Onu among others, stop being Ibo because they worked for Buhari? Why can’t he treat the few in his fold, well, to gain the majority who never wanted him? The truth is, regardless of signed MoU, only God can determine when it is the turn of any man and it would not matter who sings it or makes a declaration of it. I guess Soludo was suggesting Atiku would do a single term and hand over to an Ibo man, possibly himself. Won’t such reasoning and conviction make the well-educated Professor look such a political simpleton in Nigeria’s political context?
While Prof. is entitled to his opinions, I make bold to say that the entire South East going into a political bag as a regional power is her fastest route to controlling federal power again in Nigeria, just like Tinubu did to propel the South West back to within touching distance of Aso Rock, after 16 years of a president and a vice president. And all South West brought into the bargain was 2,433,193 votes, while Kano alone gave Buhari 1,903m votes (using Soludo’s comparative analysis). Today, the paltry votes are inching Yoruba back to the zenith.
If Obi can harness the most of South East into the Labour bag, the zone won’t have a better bargain power, even if he doesn’t win. Imagine a runoff between Atiku and Tinubu and Obi has the entire South East and most of South South. Prof. doesn’t appear to have much political sense.
But beyond logic, permutations, historical perspectives and voting realities, Prof. should consider the spiritual dimension of the Obi sizzle, which he thinks will fizzle.
In the build-up to the 2007 general election, there was a well-intentioned effort to stop Ibrahim Idris, popularly known as Ibro, from seeking re-election as Kogi governor on the platform of then ruling PDP. For starters, Ibro was a misfit for the office, not only because he couldn’t communicate his thoughts in passable English, his overarching crudity was baffling as of the time, he was railroaded into confronting Abubakar Audu in 2003. Somehow, he defeated the man seen as the most formidable politician in Kogi State until his demise. But his reign was predictably staccato. For a barely-educated fellow like the Bayelsa uncrowned David Lyon, Ibro couldn’t give beyond what he had and PDP could do with a better candidate. Then the ADC airline plane crash of October 29, 2006 happened. Onboard the ill-fated Boeing 737 were high-profile Nigerians like Muhammadu Maccido, the spiritual leader of Nigeria’s Muslims, his son, Senator Badamasi Maccido, son of former President Shagari, Abdulraham Shehu Shagari and Dr Nnennia Mgbor, the first ever female West African ENT surgeon. Of the 105 passengers onboard, only nine survived. Among the nine were three daughters of Idris; Zainab, Jemila and Aisha, who seated separately! Sensing the massive mercy shown the bumbling governor by God, his powerful opponents just let him be!
When God says “touch not my anointed”, He didn’t put a caveat, meaning it could be anyone at anytime carrying that special anointing. After what happened to Ike Ekweremadu following his harsh, unprovoked attack against Obi, I would expect the Professor to take his cue and rather do a post-mortem of the Obi “show” as he called it, since his diatribe would change nothing. If anything at all, he has further driven Ndigbo into Obi’s base, hurting in the process, the chances of his whoever-friend in the South East and with the Igbo community everywhere in Nigeria. If his Igbo race is actually 40-million strong, his prediction may miss by a wide mark. And as a last line to the Prof, all leading candidates in the presidential race are running on ethnicity and religion, period!
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