The All Progressives Congress (APC) may have just given former President Olusegun Obasanjo the most brutal of beatdown with words, following his endorsement of the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi, in a New Year message to Nigerians.
In an open letter titled: MY APPEAL TO ALL NIGERIANS PARTICULARLY YOUNG NIGERIANS, Obasanjo explained that he was constrained to write the missive “to Nigerians especially young Nigerians, friends of Nigeria globally as well as our development partners because of the gravity, responsibility and implications of the collective decision Nigerians, both young and old, will be making within the next two months.”
Even as it sought to convey in its swift reaction same day the impression that its presidential candidate in this year’s General Elections, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is not perturbed by the contents of Obasanjo’s message, which noted that Obi’s sterling qualities supersedes those of the other candidates in Nigeria’s 2023 presidential election, the APC Presidential Campaign Council made it patently clear that Obasanjo’s message indeed struck a raw nerve in the camp.
In Obasanjo’s words: “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.
“Others like all of us have what they can contribute to the new dispensation to liberation, restoration and salvaging of Nigeria collectively. 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. Needless to say that he has a young and able running mate with clean track record of achievement both in public and private life.”
Instructively, without mentioning names, certain words quoted in a particular earlier paragraph in the Obasanjo letter are those famously associated with Tinubu.
That paragraph that may have been considered particularly offensive to the APC went thus: “Let me say straight away that ‘Emi Lokan (My turn) and ‘I have paid my dues’ are one and the same thing and are wrong attitude and mentality for the leadership of Nigeria now.”
However, in clapback via a statement, the Director of Media and Publicity, APC Presidential Campaign Council, Mr. Bayo Onanuga, mercilessly pummelled Obasanjo with words indicative of the level of angst wrought in the camp by the former President’s latest public letter.
“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.
“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 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,” Onanuga stated.
He continued: “We make bold to say that our party and candidate, 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 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 the 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, former President Obasanjo has not successfully made anyone successfully win election since then.
“Not even in Ogun State can anyone rely on his support or endorsement to become a governor or councillor.”
While positing the APC’s certainty in the inability of Obasanjo to secure victory at his Abeokuta polling unit and ward, respectively, for Obi, Onanuga had not failed to pity the LP presidential candidate this alleged predicament, albeit mockingly.
Onanuga added: “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 Obsanjo similarly endorsed the Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, in 2019 against the President, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.). Atiku was defeated by Buhari with a wide margin in the election.
“History will repeat itself in February as Tinubu will equally beat Obi by a large margin.
“We take particular notice of the part of the endorsement where Chief Obasanjo said none of the presidential candidates was 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.”
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