It is endorsements galore for the Labour Party’s presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, as two prominent Nigerians – one an elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, and the other, a state governor, Samuel Ortom of Benue State – gave their support to his ambition to lead Nigeria.
Early this week, former President Olusegun Obasanjo gave his backing with a letter, especially to the youths, to push through the election of Obi.
His letter stirred the hornets nest and drew flags from the presidency to the presidential campaign organisation of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The APC’s presidential campaign organisation, which principal, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, had led a strong delegation to lobby Obasanjo’s endorsement months back, was virulent in its attack of the man, once described by the party as a navigator when it sought backing for the presidential ambition of Muhammadu Buhari over eight years ago.
However, it is not all condemnation for Obasanjo. In a statement on Tuesday, by his chief spokesmen, Mr. Terver Akase, the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, praised him for his endorsement of Obi as the right candidate to win the 2023 presidential election.
Damning whatever consequences may come from his party, the PDP, Ortom said if he was not a member of the main opposition party, he would have led the campaign of the LP candidate.
He recommended Obi to Nigerians “as the man who has the capacity to effectively tackle the economic, security and other challenges facing the country….
“The Governor is convinced that Obi possesses the qualities of a leader who will be a true President of this country by guaranteeing justice, equity and fairness for all Nigerians.
“The Governor stresses that for some years, the country has been tottering on the verge of collapse, owing to leadership failure and its attendant consequences of poverty, heightened insecurity with banditry, kidnappings and other acts of terrorism threatening the very foundations of the nation.
“He says the President that Nigeria needs at this challenging time in the country’s history is one who understands the urgent need to unite the people and speedily initiate policies and actions to redirect the ship of the nation on the path of growth and development, and emphasizes that Peter Obi has all such qualities.
“Governor Ortom lauds Chief Obasanjo for once again demonstrating objectivity, truth and patriotism as a statesman whose views on national issues must be taken seriously.”
Meanwhile, a full text containing the endorsement of Chief Edwin Clark reads: On my directive, the National Leadership of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), met with the Presidential Candidate of the Labour Party, Former Governor of Anambra State, His Excellency Peter Obi in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State on Friday, 23rd December 2022.
The PANDEF delegations comprised the National Chairman, Senator Emmanuel Ibok Essien, the Secretary, Board of Trustees, Ambassador Godknows Boladei Igali, other members of the National Executive Committee, and some selected delegates from the six states of the South-South zone
I have since been fully briefed on the successful outcome of the interaction held on that occasion. Amongst other things, I have taken note of the following observations which came out of the meeting:
That PANDEF presented the expectations and demands of the peoples of the Niger Delta, comprising infrastructural development, devolution of power, resource control, effective, and inclusive participation in the oil and gas sector, amongst other things, to the Presidential Candidate.
That the vision statement shared by His Excellency Peter Obi at the occasion, as it relates to making Nigeria more productive, using the rich resource endowment in every part of the country; curbing waste and fighting corruption; and creating jobs for our teeming youths through innovative initiatives is very commendable.
That his restated commitment to restructuring and devolution of power will promote harmony and peaceful coexistence amongst the states and constituent parts of the country.
That his vision for more equity and justice as it pertains to the South-South region, which in the past sixty years has produced much of the revenue for the national economy, but has been neglected with little impact in terms of infrastructure and social development, is convincing and commendable.
Peter Obi’s commitment to environmental justice to the clean up of the Niger Delta polluted communities is most welcomed, given that even the ongoing Ogoni clean-up has been rather slow.
His commitment to the inclusion of qualified persons from the Niger Delta in the national governance process in the future government if elected into power is very reassuring.
And that, H.E. Peter Obi’s unwavering commitment to reactivation of our ports, development of the Blue Economy and Maritime Sector, and investment in the Gas sector, development of Modular refineries, are worthy of note.
Arising from the above and taking into account the following factors, which I hold very dearly at my age of over 95 years, I restate as follows:
That Nigeria must remain a country where all citizens should be given free and unfettered opportunities for national service, even at the level of the highest office, being the Presidency of our land.
That, there should be no class citizens in this country, all Nigerians must be treated equitably and fairly.
Nigeria must be a country where her citizens have the right to hold free, fair, and credible elections devoid of ‘big money’ and any form of intimidation undue influence, and compromises.
The youths are the greatest beneficiary of Mr. Peter Obi’s presidential election victory because no previous government has thought of their interest. Nigeria is one of the most uneducated countries in the world, it is the world’s poverty capital. Mr. Peter Obi’s election will definitely take care of the presidency of Nigeria by rotation, because Nigeria does not belong to one religion, region, etc.
That those who aspire to rule Nigeria must have a good education, transparency, and a well-articulated vision for moving the country forward.
The decision of the leaders of Southern Nigeria and Middle Belt Forum, which I also lead, that the Northern part of the country as represented by President Muhammadu Buhari which would have completed full eight (8) years as President by 29th May 2023, should yield power to candidates from the South for purpose of unity, equity and fair play.
That the South East geo-political zone, which has not produced any elected President of this country since after the First Republic, and particularly during this Fourth Republic should be given the opportunity to produce the next President of Nigeria given that the zone has the capacity to present highly competent and qualified persons, for the office.
That this will bring to practical expression the commitment of the General Yakubu Gowon-led Federal Military Government of ‘No Victor, No Vanquished’, a dictum, at the end of the Nigeria Civil War in 1970. This was where General Yakubu Gowon directed my former boss and Military Governor of defunct Midwest State, Col. S.O. Ogbemudia to canvass for reconciliation, re-integration, rehabilitation, and reconstruction of every section of the country, while I, as Commissioner for Education was saddled with the responsibility for playing a critical role in the implementation of this policies.
And that, given his sound educational background, distinguished antecedent in professional life, and track record as one of the most outstanding Governors this country has ever produced during his tenure in Anambra State and his vision for the country and the Niger Delta, in particular, His Excellency Peter Obi is eminently qualified to lead this country as President.
Taking all these factors into consideration, and putting His Excellency Peter Obi side by side with all other candidates being presented by other political parties, I am convinced beyond doubt, that our country Nigeria has a great opportunity to elect a phenomenal team, the candidate of the Labour Party, and his Deputy, Senator Datti Baba-Ahmad, as President and Vice President respectively.
I formally hereby announce that I will, therefore, personally, vote for HE Peter Obi and his Vice Presidential candidate on election day, 25th February 2023, as President and Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
I have also requested the leadership of PANDEF, as a democratic institution, and all other socio-cultural and socio-political bodies which I’m head to consult with their members at the levels of the States, Local Governments, and Diaspora to take further steps in supporting my choice of H.E Peter Obi.
I also call on all well Nigerians irrespective of ethnic, religious, and even political backgrounds to vote for H.E. Peter Obi without hesitation, as he is our best hope of a new Nigeria of peace, stability, and progress.