1. Is OBJ trying to use Peter Obi so that he (OBJ) will be the eventual kingmaker in the likelihood of a very tight Presidential election in 2023?
2. Is OBJ trying to woo the Nigerian youths and young people to his side through Peter Obi and make political capital out of the unsuspecting youths and young people?
It is not news that former President Olusegun Obasanjo has endorsed Peter Obi for President as Nigerians prepare to vote in the 2023 general elections.
What is news though is that this latest endorsement is different from his (OBJ’s) previous endorsements of Buhari, late YarAdua, Jonathan etc.
The latest endorsement is actually an attempt by Obasanjo to woo the Nigerian youths and young people to his (OBJ’s) side through Peter Obi. Wooing the Nigerian youths to his side will place Obasanjo in good stead to be the ultimate power broker in the likely scenario of political alliances in the 2023 Presidential election and beyond.
If I have the Nigerian youths and young people on my side, I can use them as bargaining chip to navigate the political terrain: That’s OBJ’s calculation.
So OBJ’s endorsement of Peter Obi is neither for God nor country but for OBJ.
Before going into the crux of the matter, it is fair to say that Nigeria needs to come out of this current ‘political jail’ of being teleguided by people like OBJ who obviously has had their time but do not want to leave the stage for other generations. Why does Nigeria give so much space to people like OBJ who was military head of state almost 50 years ago? When is Nigeria coming out of its shelve and freeing itself from the shackles of political colonialism imposed on her by people who belong to the old order? In this digital era?
Time shall tell.
Now back to the reasons why OBJ endorsed Peter Obi.
It is highly unlikely that Peter Obi will win the 2023 Presidential election. Not because he is not a good candidate but because the Nigerian political structure is designed such that state governors control everything including the run of elections and Mr Obi has no state governor on his side. Peter Obi has no political structure to make any serious political headway in the 2023 Presidential elections although his Labour Party will win some seats in the state and National Assembly. Nonetheless, Peter Obi has done very well. He has miraculously built the Labour Party within few months. The desired impact of Mr Obi’s political tsunami will manifest in future elections in Nigeria.
As a matter of fact, Peter Obi looks to be a good candidate that can turn around Nigeria’s economy, at least based on his speeches and antecedents. The current political structure will not allow a Presidential candidate who doesn’t have state governors to his side, win the Presidential election. State governors have held Nigeria by the jugular and they don’t want to let go.
Obasanjo knows fully well that it will take the camel to pass through the eye of the needle for Peter Obi to win the 2023 Presidential election, but why did he (OBJ) still go ahead to endorse Mr Obi?
From his antecedents as the ‘ultimate endorser’ of Presidential candidates, it can be construed that OBJ endorsed Peter Obi for two reasons:
1. OBJ wants to be the kingmaker by using Peter Obi and the Labour Party in the event of a negotiated Presidential election in 2023.
2. Obj wants to portray himself as the ‘friend’ of Nigerian youths through Peter Obi and the Labour Party. In this manner, he can use them as tools to negotiate power.
Clearly, OBJ is no stranger to controversies and the game of political endorsements. In almost every election since 1999 during Nigeria’s latest adventure as a democracy, OBJ has endorsed a candidate for the Presidency. However, he always fell out with his ‘endorsee’ because the endorsee has refused to play ball.
OBJ’s game has always been ‘I will endorse you but I will also control you when you get into office.
That never worked his way. When he falls out with his endorsee, OBJ will pick his pen and write against the endorsee, often times calling the endorsee unprintable names. In 2019, it was widely reported that Obasanjo turned against Buhari because he (Buhari) refused to appoint OBJ’s nominees Oby Ezekwesile and Olagunsoye Oyinlola as ministers. Buhari also refused to engage OBJ’s recommended contractor for the Mambila power project.
Take a look at OBJ’s ‘endorse and betray’ formula since 1999:
1983- Obasanjo handed over power to Shagari but when he couldn’t control Shagari, he accused Shagari of economic mismanagement and corruption. The military struck and overthrew Shagari few weeks later.
1986- Obasanjo supported Gen Babangida’s government at the beginning but when he couldn’t have his way, he started criticising IBB and his government.
1998- OBJ initially supported Gen Abdulsalam’s government but when he couldn’t control the head of state, OBJ resorted to criticising Gen Abdulsalam.
1999- OBJ criticised his Vice President Atiku Abubakar and accused Atiku of corruption.
OBJ didn’t realise that he was unknowingly criticising his own government.
2007- OBJ endorsed and installed late YarAdua as President but when he realised that he couldn’t control YarAdua, he changed gear and started writing letters against Yaradua’s government.
2010- When Goodluck Jonathan became President, OBJ wanted to control both Jonathan and his government. When he realised that it was not possible, OBJ picked up his pen, wrote letters and turned a critic of Jonathan’s government overnight.
2015- OBJ endorsed Buhari for President but when he couldn’t control Buhari, OBJ resorted to writing letters and criticising Buhari and his government.
2023- OBJ has endorsed Peter Obi. Time shall tell how long the OBJ/OBI relationship will last before OBJ starts writing letters to criticise Obi in the unlikely event that Obi wins the 2023 Presidential election.
Obasanjo specifically wrote his latest letter on 1st Jan to Nigerian youths. The title of his letter reads: MY APPEAL TO ALL NIGERIANS PARTICULARLY YOUNG NIGERIANS
By his latest letter, Obasanjo is clearly trying to strike a political cord with the Nigerian youths.
Can the great Nigerian youths and young people trust Obasanjo to lead them politically? NO.
Clearly, Obasanjo has not helped matters in the task of unifying Nigeria. At best OBJ can be referred to as the ‘divider-in-chief’ who has tried to obstruct the run of play whenever it doesn’t favour him.
Obasanjo is certainly not to be trusted by Nigerian youths. As a matter of fact, the great Nigerian youths must keep a distance from Obasanjo because they don’t share the same idea of a New Nigeria with OBJ.
Without doubt, OBJ belongs to the old order while Nigerian youths are looking up to a new order. Looking for reforms and a New Nigeria through Obasanjo is akin to searching for a needle in a haystack. It is simply impossible.
Obasanjo is an elder statesman, who has led this country both as a military head of state and a civilian President. It will do him good to stay away from politics and allow Nigerian youths to naturally navigate their way to political power. The best that Obasanjo can do to Nigeria is to stop this self-serving political endorsements and letter-writings meant to whip sentiments. A good actor should leave the stage when the ovation is loudest.