By Ori Martins
By every political calculus, the former governor of Anambra State, His Excellency, Peter Gregory Obi, has caused a sensation in the polity that could be likened to the election revolution made possible by the late American president, John F. Kennedy, in the 1960 presidential election.
Kennedy and Obi have many things in common. Kennedy was a Catholic. Obi is a Catholic. Kennedy brought vigour, vibrance and and new message of “New Frontier” as a campaign strategy to salvage an American nation that was deeply engrossed in economic slum and politico – social stagnation.
Obi, on the other hand, has completely and almost entirely changed the political campaigns hitherto miserably controlled and disappointedly managed by oligarch and thier proteges.
With his “A New Nigeria is Possible” message hinged in “Go and Verify” anthem as well as production and prudent management of resources slogan, Obi, like Kennedy in America in 1960, has caught the attention of the youths and the fancy of many adults.
What is more, while Kennedy was a child of a new century – he was born 1917, and so, he was the first politician of the 20th century to rule America.
That was why he said in his inaugural speech “The torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans, born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace”.
So also Obi was a child of independence Nigeria – slightly before or after. Thus, he does not belong to the old brigade. And like Kennedy, Obi was tempered by a civil war and a bitter peace that has not worked.
It was very clear that what gave Kennedy victory in America in 1960 was his beautiful articulation and infectious brilliance, nay composure, during the presidential debates which was the first of its kind in America’s election history.
As Kennedy was well composed, his opponent, vice president Richard Nixon, was laughably incoherent. Can you now see why the Tinubu manager’s have not allowed him to appear for TV debates?
Same way, Obi has technically emerged as the poster boy of the television debates, so far. He has stolen the show and there is no denying the fact that he is the man of the moment.
Yet, Kennedy was declared winner following a narrow electoral victory. He never had it easy not minding his aristocratic background.
On February 25, 2023, Obi, like the other two leading candidates – Atiku and Tinubu – can triumph. If this happens, Obi will be the first Igbo to be elected executive president of Nigeria.
What will happen next is that the national assembly which has been a mere stooge in the bag of the president except for the brief moment Senator Chuba Okadigbo was the president of the senate, will suddenly realize it has constitutional powers to checkmate the president on the guise of playing oversight function and applying checks and balances.
If Obi becomes the president on May 29, 2023, the Nigerian press will automatically wake up to do its job as the watchdog of the society and then comfortably and functionally occupies its revered position as the Fourth Estate of the Realm.
If Obi is sworn – in on May 29, his kith and kin, the Igbo, who had been successful in all aspects of human endeavour, will be made to look as if their fortunes just began with the Obi presidency. You start hearing snubs like “is it because an Igbo is the president?” Elements will paint Obi black and before you know it, the same Obidient supporters will turn to crucify him mob.
Remember in 1966, Nigeria’s first military head of state, General Johnson Thomas Aguiyi Ironsi, did all he could to please Nigeria. In the process, his Supreme Military Council, SMC, the highest decision making body in the country then, had nine members, and only Ironsi and Ojukwu were Igbo.
Ironsi’s Federal Executive Council had 11 members and only three were Igbo. And there were 21 permanent secretaries and only two – B .N. Okagbue and TCM Enelli – were of Igbo extraction.
On April 19, 1966, Ironsi appointed four Nigerians to four technical and strategic positions to wit: Alhaji Sule Katagun as the chairman of the Public Service Commission of the Federation. Mr Howson Wright as chairman of the Railway Corporation. Mr A.I. Obiyan as chairman of the Nigerian Ports Authority., and H. O. Omani as chairman of the Nigerian Airways. None of them was Igbo. Yet, Ironsi was gruesomely assassinated on the grounds that he was favouring Ndigbo, using decree 34!
Before his death, the late Chief Christian Onoh noted that any Igbo who would rule Nigeria in the frame of the present structure and arrangement, would either be assassinated like Ironsi or impeached the way and manner the senate presidents of South East were removed during President Olusegun Obasanjo administration. Or, in the alternative, he would just be a figure head.
However, only a divine intervention can give Obi victory. And it is not impossible. But based on Nigeria’s political permutations and calculations, it is absolutely difficult for Obi to be announced the winner of the 2023 presidential election.
Take not just a passing glance at this. There are 176, 846 polling units in the country. This is how it is distributed, zone by zone.
The North West has 41, 671. The North Central is credited with 27, 514, while the North boasts of 24, 006. On the other hand, the South East 21, 631 just as the South – South is 27, 126 and South West has 34, 898.
The simple interpretation is, the South East, Obi’s strongest base, has the least of units.
The same scenario also plays out as INEC record shows that the South East has the least number of registered voters.
According to INEC, of the over 93 million registered voters, the North West has 22, 255, 562 voters. The South West registered 17, 958, 966, while North Central got 15, 363, 731. Oil rich South – South zone secured 14, 440,717., the North East is credited with 12,542,429, and the South East has 10, 907, 606.
Add the least number of polling units and least number of registered voters of the South East, to the rampaging insecurity in the region and you can see why the election is tailored against Obi in spite of his popularity.
The crowd you see with Obi is real but it is called demographic deceit. In Owerri, sometime ago, it was advertised that there would be a two million march for Obi. Of course, the crowd gathered and it was explosive, but one who practically understands how the simple arithmetic of demography knows that seas of head was never up to 10,000!
Again, the Iconic Prof Chinua Achebe stated it, most regrettably in his epic book, THE TROUBLE WITH NIGERIA, that “Nigerians will probably achieve on no other matter than their common resentment of the Igbo”.
The Obi movement, most Igbo haters, particularly the establishment, are abhorrent to it simply because it is not within their favoured political arrangement and bargain!
And if Obi loses, the demand for Biafra and IPOB activities in the South East will go higher thereby making insecurity in the region worse.