By Muhammad Sulaiman Abdullahi, PhD
Many good things should have happened to Nigeria, but such good things were and are still averted by Nigerians who feel threatened by others. Our collective psyches teach us to be myopic and to lack reason. These make us promote selfishness, ethnic chauvinism or even other material gains at the expense of the best public interest.
Now that Kwankwaso/Obi ticket has been ethnically killed, I am happy that it didn’t come to fruition. It would have been disastrous to the nation as Peter Obi supporters are turning into something else. Now that it didn’t happen, it left some issues to ponder, especially on our reasoning that it shouldn’t have even been thought of in the first place. It left us with no hope as to the politicians we see, who are a sort of “young” blood, compared to those whose actual age, patriotism, source of wealth and health status are all not certain.
All of us in the North, without a doubt, believe that Dr Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso is far better than Obi. They are not comparable in whatever capacity, from academic credentials to practical experience, national spread, political platform and even patriotism. However, one irony about the ticket was that the way Northerners believe in Kwankwaso is similar to how South Easterners believe that Obi is better. They think that Obi is the only answer. In their bid to justify that, they reduced Kwankwaso to pieces, saying he was over-ambitious. This is where they woefully failed. This was what made the thought of bringing the ticket even more worrisome.
Obi’s supporters shouldn’t be blamed, as the country is programmed this way. People only know and promote people they are so much close to, naturally. What will happen if this natural knowledge is mixed with bitter secessionists’ sentiments and arrogance that beclouded their thought of anything if not theirs?
There are some reasons why Kwankwaso shouldn’t have even thought of Obi. Perhaps Kwankwaso did that out of nationalism and as another way of garnering support from the other end. Still, one thing Kwankwaso failed to realize was that Obi’s candidature was no longer his own. It has long been hijacked by a fake Christiandom, Obidients/OBiafrans and other disgruntled politicians from the other end. First, however, let’s consider some points here.
The way Nigeria is, a country with such a vivid religious divide, with Muslims as the majority and Christians with a significant number, the Christians must feel offended if they do not feature as number two, if not number one in the country. In this case, someone may say that democracy is, to some extent, a hoax. If not, why shouldn’t the majority carry the board all the time? But in Nigeria’s situation, Christians are many, and they would feel somehow alienated by the APC’s Muslim/Muslim ticket.
Therefore, it will be a miscalculation for anyone to ask Obi to deputize instead of being the lead. Christians may not take it lightly. They have already fought the Muslim/Muslim ticket and failed, and now the only option left for some of them shouldn’t be tempted or played with. Therefore, looking at it from this angle, it was a terrible idea right from the beginning. Reuben Abati confirmed this in an interview when he opined that, during one of their talks about Kwankwaso/Obi, he asked one question! And the answer to that question, given to him by the NNPP representatives, convinced him that the Kwankwanso/Obi arrangement was dead on arrival.
He asked them, is it fair that after a Northener – and maybe a Muslim – finishes his eight-year tenure, another Northerner will rule again immediately? He said the Kwankwanso/NNPP representatives responded that that is not an issue to worry about. This is their point of reasoning which should be understood.
Another point is regional affiliation. This doesn’t give much, but many Southerners may prefer to have someone healthier than Bola Tinubu, not minding his religion the way the Northerners do. Here, Obi as the lead may be more appealing to them.
On the other hand, there is an issue of the Igbo presidency. Igbo politicians have been too stubborn, divisive and too regional in their approaches to national discourse. They always create problems for themselves, of which Obi’s candidature is part. You can’t disown your country, engage in a series of treasonable felonies, condone crimes, support terrorism against your nation, and then think you would be trusted.
The idea of rallying behind Obi as the only source of salvation is another mistake made by the Igbos. It will make them more stubborn or more alienated. If Obi fails – which will likely happen, some of those overzealous OBiafrans who now threaten all who talk against Obi will surely be more stubborn and restless. And the mainstream politicians would put them aside as they know they are inconsequential.
Now that the ticket has been killed, most commentators agree that it wouldn’t change anything even if it had happened. The real fight is seen to be between the two giants. Now both camps should sheath their swords and forge ahead.
Kwankwaso and his supporters should continue to aim high. Merging with anyone among the two major parties cannot produce a result, and going alone is not the solution. Madugu and his team should think within and outside the box and develop a real solution.
As for Obi’s real supporters, the real Obidients, they should learn tolerance and know that Nigeria is not Imo, Abia or Enugu. Two states’ votes in the North can equal the total number of states in the South-East region. This is based on the latest voter statistics released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which shows that the North has more voters registered in the continuous voter registration that ended last Sunday.
Therefore, these OBidients, including the OBiafrans, should be more civil, tolerant and open-minded. They should interact well with others, show decorum in their manners, and not allow the OBiafrans to lead them.
Dr Muhammad can be reached via @muhammadunfagge (Twitter) or email: email@example.com.