Tuesday, November 8, 2022
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Pennsylvania, USA

ince the nomination of the presidential flagbearers for the upcoming presidential elections, the Nigerian political landscape has undoubtedly experienced a seismic shift of unprecedented proportions in the Nigerian polity. The emergence of the former Anambra State Governor, Peter Obi, a Labor Party stalwart has generated a buzz not seen since the 1992 contest between the Late MKO Abiola and the Kano businessman, Alhaji Bashir Tofa.

To a majority of progressive and forward-leaning Nigerians, Obi represents a breath of fresh air, a turning point in Nigerian politics and a shift from a landscape populated by old and tired politicians with moribund ideologies and outdated manifestos; whose continued presence on the Nigerian political scene only spells doom and gloom, cronyism, corruption, godfatherism and national retrogression. For Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the golden ticket is seen as an entitlement, a birthright and a check in the bucket list. When questioned about his motive for seeking the people's blessings to the nation's highest office, the octogenarian was quoted to have said," I believe it is my turn to rule." The APC kingmaker had openly boasted as being responsible for singlehandedly foisting the current president upon the Nigerian people. Buhari's presidency has been characterized by nepotism, tribalism, terrorism, poverty, hardship, unemployment and general hopelessness. For anyone to take responsibility for Buhari's failed leadership and expect Nigerians to cast their votes for that person, only smacks of a lack of understanding of the Nigerian electorate. We hope to never experience the sort of leadership as the one this country has been saddled with these past eight years.

For Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the flagbearer of the People's Democratic Party (PDP), a date with the highest seat in the land has been a long chase. So long that only a seasoned politician of his ilk could have stayed the course that many others would have long given up on. Atiku's best shot came and went in 2007 when he was the country's vice president. A falling out with his boss, the unforgiven Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, resulted in Atiku's fall from grace with the hope of ever reaching Aso Rock growing dimmer each election season. Atiku's political promise is not one of change and many Nigerians have associated him with endemic corruption. An Atiku Presidency is expected to bring unbridled corruption and more of the same status quo that has kept Nigeria bogged down in hopelessness and a bleak future. There is little to no excitement about the prospect of a President Atiku Abubakar, but then the man wishes to buy and bribe his way into power.

The emergence of Peter Obi, as a presidential flagbearer, is the only development to generate a buzz among the electorate so far. The former Governor from the East is a breath of fresh air that the country needs to move away from the archaic and ineffective political thoughts it has been saddled with all these years. Given how much the country has suffered under the Buhari presidency, it is no wonder that many Nigerians gravitate to the new light of hope that is the Labour Party candidate. It is believed that the APC would have excited many Nigerians if she had thrown her weight behind the incumbent Vice President, Professor Yemi Osibanjo instead of allowing Tinubu to seize the party's platform and install himself as their candidate for president. For the brief period that Osibanjo was allowed to run the country during one of Buhari's numerous medical trips abroad, Nigerians were impressed with his efficiency, leadership, and sensitization to the nation's woes. They caught a glimpse of the sort of progressive leadership that has long been denied them and they had a glimmer of hope.

Though they may belong to different political camps, one cannot help but observe that Obi and Osibanjo speak the same political language of conservation, fiscal commonsense, accountability and quick reaction to national issues. They both represent a new way of approaching politics that a fresh generation of Nigerians are desperately seeking. Both gentlemen are great deviations from the old money politics by half-educated men of questionable mental capacities, foisted upon an unsuspecting base by a cabal of invisible godfathers. Such men are only there to serve at the pleasure of these self-seeking godfathers and not for the interest of Nigerians. Obi and Osibanjo approach the business of governance as a service to the people. They respond to what is not working and make moves to fix it instead of sugarcoating reality. They challenge the status quo and seek change for the betterment of Nigerians. They both understand that there is no room for the relics who still seek political relevance and are desperately clawing at a chance to loot the nation's funds for their generations to come. This writer believes that for Nigeria to move forward, it is best to retire the likes of Buhari, Tinubu and Atiku from the political scene.

It can be recalled that when President Buhari was elected president in 2015, he addressed the nation in his inauguration speech, talking about body languages and being for everybody and nobody. History has gone on to prove that the speech was just the handiwork of a good speechwriter and that the old General from Daura had zero body language and was destined to be belong only to a select section of the country. The body language and aptitude to perform was witnessed in Yemi Osibanjo when he took the reins of power when Buhari was incapacitated and went to seek medical treatment abroad. Nigerians felt what they had been missing with the absence of a competent hand at the helm of affairs. There was more news about a leader getting things done, than of a leader disappearing in the dead of night to travel abroad for medical attention since he had not invested in his own country's health sector.

An endorsement of Obi's quest by Osibanjo will mark the turning of the page in Nigerian politics. As it stands, Obi represents a modern era approach to politics in Nigeria and his success is expected to usher in a new generation of educated and enlightened politicians. An Osibanjo endorsement will be a validation of what many Nigerians see in Obi and will stamp his legacy as a leader who is willing to cut across party lines and place the nation's interests above that of party or political godfather. To naysayers who may interpret such an endorsement as a betrayal of party and mentor, this author is inclined to disagree. It should be seen that the Vice President was the one betrayed by his party and mentor when both entities withdrew their support from the more capable man and decided to go with the weaker relic. It is time to place national interests above the needs of geriatric old men who are only after their own self-interest. A Tinubu who is truly interested in Nigeria should have supported Osibanjo and ensured that only the fittest and smartest are best placed to serve the nation.

In conclusion, an Osinbajo's backing of Peter Obi is a signal to the young generation that there are still elements among the old guard who still have their interests at heart. We are at a stage in our national lives when nothing seems to matter anymore. No one can really claim they are listening to the youths, and nobody is tackling the nation's multiple problems. Osibanjo stands at the crossroads of history.