Editor's note: Public commentator, Chidiebere Nwobodo, writes on the current public debate which region the Peoples Democratic Party's presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, should choose his running mate from.
Congratulations once again to Waziri Atiku Abubakar on his emergence as the PDP presidential flag bearer. He fought a good fight of faith. There is immense pressure in the court of public opinion for Atiku's vice presidential candidate to be picked from southeast. In as much I want Igbos to be given a huge sense of belonging in the emerging Atiku Abubakar presidency, we should lift our gaze from the navel and grasp the bigger political picture ahead. This is not time to be parochial and sentimental. Neither it is the moment to allow individualism to shade into egotism in the quest to have Igbo name on the joint ticket. Our sole-unalloyed goal at this moment is to sack Buhari from power come 2019. If we get our calculations wrong now, Igbos will be the highest casualties in Buhari's despotic third coming.
South-east will be amongst the highest beneficiaries if Atiku wins. Atiku's presidency will practically be like 'Igbo presidency.' Zoning his vice presidential ticket to the east just to massage our ego and pander to our prejudices will be counterproductive - it will not enhance his chances of winning next year's election, for obvious reasons of which I will enumerate in the foregoing. I won't deny the fact that Atiku needs Igbos like he yearns for the support of other tribes and zones in Nigeria. He already has southeast massive support - of which he need not take for granted but consolidate. Going by his pan-Nigerian antecedents and restructuring manifesto vis-a-vis Buhari's unprecedented hostility against Igbos, as displayed in his nepotistic, lopsided appointments and unwarranted declaration of war on Igbos in the cover of Operation Python Dance, Igbos should put on their strategic thinking cap at this juncture -it's time to deploy high level of emotional intelligence, if we want to get it right now.
I will never be part of any web of conspiracy that will perpetuate second fiddle unjust role of Igbos in Nigeria's political terrain. But, there comes a time in life - especially when faced with existential threats; that a visionary thinker who understands dynamics of political warfare, has to relinquish a supposed right just to accommodate collective survival interest of all. What Igbos have at stake now is bigger than a single position of vice presidential candidate.
President Buhari's retrogressive and recessive economic policies have bankrupted millions of Igbo businesses across the country. Many of Igbo hitherto billionaires, are now millionaires. While our yesterday's millionaires have been impoverished by harsh policies of this fetid administration. Majority of hitherto successful and ever-busy Igbo importers have been downgraded and reduced to chair-warmers and "BetNaija-gamblers" in the following markets: Alaba, Ladipo, Trade-fair, Dei-dei, Wuse, Ogbete, Otu Onitsha, Nkwo Nnewi, Aba, etcetera.
In fact, there are unwritten "pauperization" policies of this regime, targeted at crippling Igbo businesses; ranging from suffocating exchange rate, imposition of neck-breaking import duties, custom's tyrannical body language towards importers and their agents, bureaucratic bottlenecks, etcetera. Our industrialists are closing shop while others are relocating to Ghana just to remain afloat in their businesses. These are the pathetic scenarios we must take into consideration in the unfolding political intrigues on the choice of Atiku's VP nomination. We need a business-oriented and economically savvy president like Atiku to restore our lost economic fortunes by stimulating the private and business sector of the economy. If ceding the running mate to southwest will enhance Atiku's chance of becoming president of Nigeria in few months; so be it! It is not too much of a sacrifice to make, when juxtaposed with what we stand to lose if Atiku fails. It is time to get Nigeria of our dreams via emerging Atiku Abubakar's presidency.
In the foregoing contest, I will strongly advice that Atiku's running mate should come from southwest. I will recommend Akinwumi Adesina or Olusegun Aganga - these are tested technocrats with unblemished track records that can make a huge difference, especially in the economy which is Atiku's major area of strength. Yorubas already have a stake in this government, dividing south-west votes - or possibly defeating Buhari in the zone will require political sagacity and broad-mindedness. South-west has the second highest registered voters after northwest. Incidentally, President Buhari is from northwest and his vice - Osinbajo, is from southwest. The PDP choosing its vice presidential candidate from the southeast means that we have technically "surrendered" these two regions with the largest registered voters to the ruling party, even before the election. The PDP should make southwest a battlefield by choosing its vice presidential candidate from there. Having ceded the party national chairmanship to old eastern region of south-south, also picking its VP candidate from southeast may portray the party as regional. We can't afford to play into the waiting hands of the APC's propagandists.
Majority of Nigerians of southwestern extraction in their closets know that Buhari's government has failed woefully, but Osinbajo's factor and his Redeem Church connection, is what that is still keeping them from accepting the obvious truth. The PDP must use the 'carrot' of vice presidential slot to take their eyes off Buhari's failed government. The opposition must provide a better alternative to Buhari's vice in the zone. Professor Yemi Osinbajo's factor must be neutralized in southwest, for Atiku to have a landslide victory in the entire southern Nigeria. Unprecedentedly, southern Nigeria will determine next president of this country; owing to the fact that the two leading contenders are from the north. Picking a south-western vice presidential candidate will be the final political masterstroke that will break the APC's back and throw those clueless tyrants out of power.
South-east can produce the next Senate president under Atiku's administration. We can get our dilapidated critical infrastructure like roads, airports, seaport rebuilt and constructed together with other "juicy" and strategic appointments. We will be empowered more under a president that believes in our vision of a restructured-21st-century Nigeria, than one that sees his deputy as propagandistic tool for winning elections. I will prefer a president, whose economic policies will revive and nourish millions of Igbo businesses across the country, than one that will benefit the elite club alone. My candid opinion.
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