PETER OBI, SOUTH EAST & 2023 – KEEPING IT HONEST, OBJECTIVE AND REALISTIC- Dr Uche Diala.

This is not a popular topic to broach at this time but someone has to take the risk because we have been here not too long ago politically as a people.

Personally, I am neither a member of the PDP nor Labour Party but no question that I have my fair share of sentiments for the South East as an Igbo man and as an objective political watcher and analyst, I have taken a peek into the scenarios.

I know some people might not agree with me or might even attack me. That is why I have not said anything much, seeing the euphoria Peter Obi’s candidacy is eliciting amongst my brethren but there is need for a reality check. There is need to temper emotions with reality to avoid dashed expectations and disappointment which could be disastrous at least psychologically and emotionally in the end and could further push our South East into another round of feeling marginalised and cheated with the attendant consequences. We must be very careful and sure whatever choice(s) we make, know the consequences and be ready to live with them (whichever way).

I was really surprised when Peter Obi left the PDP literally a few days to the Primaries. I have read the reason(s) he gave but I am not totally sold on that. He knew he would not be able to get the PDP ticket. At least he ought to know. So that should not have been a surprise to him as it wasn’t to me. I always knew Atiku Abubakar would get the PDP ticket from studying the body language of the PDP and Atiku for a long time and sincerely, knowing what is politically expedient for the PDP as a political party at this time (even though that might not be a perfect excuse to sidestep South East for its ticket)

I expected Dr Peter Obi to have stayed back and got on the ticket with Atiku as Vice Presidential candidate for a replay of their 2019 joint candidacy and my reasons were simple.

Nigeria Presidentual elections are run largely on structures. These structures include having President, Governors and other elected officials at various levels as well as membership spread and of course money but money often plays the least role because anyone can produce enough money but the other factors require time and effort to deploy, build and mature. In Nigerian politics you can hardly build structures overnight and win Presidential election with it.

I felt that Peter Obi running on the PDP ticket with Atiku would offer them the already existing PDP structure nationally and if they give the APC a good fight, they could upset the APC. Politics is about winning. Or not?

If that were to happen, the SE would get into national politics first, even as VP. That would then position Peter Obi and the SE in line for the Presidency after 8 years when power would return to the South after an Atiku Presidency.

Often we think 8 years is a long time but if we think of the fact that we have already gone 7+ years from 2015, we would realise that time is really nothing in politics; if we plan well and use the intervening period effectively in executing our plan.

Indeed if Peter Obi had stayed with the PDP, the SE could even take Atiku up on that idea he once mooted of doing only one term; even though I never really bought that personally. But you never can tell.

All the same, the deed has been done and there is no need crying over spilt milk.

Peter Obi’s moving to the Labour Party has elicited great excitement no doubt especially amongst South Easterners but how realistic are his chances of becoming President that is of winning the Presidential election from a fringe party with no grounded or tested structure nationwide, without any elected official in any state (I hope I’m not wrong on that).

If every registered South Easterner including those registering now votes and votes for Peter Obi alone plus more from elsewhere, will Peter Obi and the Labour Party garner enough votes nationwide to have the popular votes and as well get the required 25% spread in 2/3rds of the states of the federation and FCT?

These are some of the critical questions we must ask and answer beyond the emotions and excitement.

This is why I have advised and I advice that if there still a window, Peter Obi should consider a rapprochement with Atiku Abubakar to get on the PDP ticket as VP candidate.

In my objective view, if the PDP structure and membership nationwide, the enthusiasm that the Peter Obi candidacy has generated nationwide and Atiku’s experience in elections are put together, I am sure they would give the APC (which truth be told has some advantage today because of incumbency factor) a real fight, surely their chances of winning would be higher and that way, the SE can return to national politics and be in the line with a real hope and chance for the Presidency in 2031 or even 2027 (who knows).

Forgive me, but inspite of all the euphoria I see around, the chance of Peter Obi winning the Presidential elections under the Labour Party is slim; even with the planned deployment of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) by INEC for the 2023 elections. In my humble and objective view though. I may be wrong who knows but I am being realistic.

In Closing, Which Is Very Important For Our People Considering Our Recent And Ongoing Experiences.

If the motive is to say that the South East stood by our own and made a statement (whether we win or lose), that is fine but our people must be made to clearly understand that (2015/19 on my mind). We should be ready and prepared that the “shocker” many talk about can come in different ways.

But if it is to win the Presidential election, I am afraid a different strategy might need to be deployed to avoid dashing the heightened hopes of our people.

Actually there are different ways of winning.
Apart from winning the Presidential election in 2023 through Peter Obi, the South East can also win by making a statement that we can support our own (if that is what we want).
It can also win by having a Vice President in Aso Rock in 2023 and then work on a succession plan.
We must be clear on what and which one(s) we want, for the sake of our people.

Above all, we need to learn to be patient, more strategic and less emotional and segregative in our politics. That is the advantage the North has over us in politics.

Those who have the ears of Peter Obi can whisper this into his ear for possible consideration.

In all, I wish him, us and Nigeria good luck.

@Uche Diala

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