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2023: Peter Obi should come out

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By Ochereome Nnanna

With about 19 months to the end of the President Muhammadu Buhari era, we must all actively search for credible leaders to replace him.

All eyes should now be on 2023. We have a unique opportunity to conduct a deliberate search for his replacement, making sure we do not allow the ethnoreligious sentiments and selfish interests of politicians to lead us into another possible eight years of wandering in the wilderness.

In 2015, we abandoned the search to politicians.

They drove away a nation-building president and brought another whose prophecy of a bloodied Nigeria is being fulfilled in every geopolitical zone of the country.

We need a leader who will heal our bleeding wounds, bring us back together as members of one family, clean up the rot in governance through massive constitutional and institutional reforms, defend all Nigerians from our internal and external enemies without fear or favour, create wealth, restore our love for our country, respect our constitutional rights and make Nigeria “sweet” again.

We need a leader who has occupied commanding positions in government and business, turned around the fortunes of the entities they have led for the better, and left without any credible evidence of corrupt self-enrichment or stealing of the people’s money.

How many Nigerian politicians have finished their four or eight years in office without being in the radar of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC?

They may not be many. But they are there. And they can be found in every part of the country.

Nigerians should be clamouring for Mr. Peter Obi, former Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director General of the World Trade Organisation, WTO/former Minister of Finance and Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, AfDB/former Minister of Agriculture.

When you come “down” to the level of currently practising politicians, names like Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (Abia South), Babatunde Fashola (Minister of Works), Senator Kashim Shettima (Borno Central/former Governor of Borno State), Aminu Tambuwal (Governor of Sokoto State), Nyesom Wike (Governor of Rivers State) and his former boss/friend, Chibuike Amaechi (Minister of Transport) will fit the bill. I don’t know if I should add the name of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, being a part of this blood-soaked nation-destroying administration.

They are all good-hearted patriots without the ethno-tribal, religious, and regional baggage.

A good leader in Aso Villa for one month alone will put off the flares of conflict, terrorism, banditry, herdsmen’s land-grabbing insurrection against farmers and indigenous people with only a few good moves.

I am specifically calling on Peter Obi to come out in response to the laughable but woefully failed effort to drag his name in the mud through the Pandora Papers scandal.

His accusers have so far failed to prove that he stole public funds or even the funds of the corporate organisations in which he has served as an investor, director or chairman.

They have failed to prove that he laundered money or violated any tax law in any part of the world.

When the scandal broke, the EFCC notified him that they would also investigate him. Obi left office in 2013.

EFCC has never seen reason to investigate him till this Pandora Papers scandal.

He has not only accepted to be investigated; he has even challenged the EFCC to televise it live if they can.

Personally, I want EFCC to commence that probe immediately, at least to help prove the point that Peter Obi is worthy to be entrusted with the highest office in Nigeria.

There is no doubt that Peter Obi wants to be President of Nigeria. But he appears a bit timid to come out and say so, ho-ha!

The best he has done is to vie as the running mate of former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar.

Even for the 2023, Obi may still pussyfoot around in the hope that he will be V-P to whoever emerges as the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, presidential candidate.

This is the attitude that is driving the narrative that the South-East (which should be favoured with the presidency under the rotational arrangement we have practised since 1999), has no visible candidate to take the slot.

Peter Obi should emulate Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who has taken the preliminary steps towards vying for the presidential ticket of his party, the All Progressives Congress, APC.

Obi can start from there, but if his party’s processes eventually require him to be a V-P to someone else, so be it.

He should challenge other candidates to prove that they have better leadership (not just electoral) credentials than him.

It is important for him to boldly offer himself to Nigerians, the same way that Prof. Kingsley Moghalu is doing irrespective of his “political outsider” status.

If Nigeria once again rejects gold and opts for wood, Obi will not be blamed for failing to directly offer himself.

Peter Obi should not be deterred that another Igbo “Mr. Clean”, the late Dr. Alex Ekwueme, offered himself several times and was rejected by Nigerians who went back to the “archives” to pull out retired General Olusegun Obasanjo.

Obasanjo’s success inspired Buhari to also vie.

When Buhari goes in 2023, the Civil War era will be over. A new era will open for Nigeria.

Peter Obi must come out now!