Again, Soludo attacks Obi

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The Governor of Anambra State, Charles Soludo, has attacked the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, saying he cannot win the 2023 presidential election.

Soludo said the LP candidate was playing a game with his election bid, adding that Obi did not have the necessary structure in place to win the Presidency on the Labour Party platform.

The governor stated these in an article on Monday, titled, ‘History Beckons and I Will Not Be Silent (Part 1).’

Soludo had last Thursday during an interview on Channels TV ‘Politics Today’ said the investments in Anambra State credited to Obi, an ex-Anambra State governor, were worth ‘’next to nothing.’’

The former Central Bank of Nigeria governor’s criticism of his predecessor in Anambra State triggered a series of backlashes from Obi’s supporters, particularly on social media.

Obi ruled Anambra State between 2006 and 2014 on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance before he defected to the Peoples Democratic Party, and later the Labour Party.

Soludo alleged that some individuals, who were angered by his comments, had launched attacks on him and his family.

He claimed there were suggestions that the Saturday attack in which five security personnel died in his community, Isuofia, in the Aguata Local Government Area of the state, were carried out by those provoked by his comment on the LP candidate.

While describing the attacks on him as an exhibition of desperation, intolerance, he noted that the attempt to bully everyone who expresses the slightest of dissent was reprehensible.

Soludo further cited the attack on the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, Enugu Ecclesiastical Province, Dr. Emmanuel Chukwuma, by Obi’s supporters commonly known as ‘Obidients.’

He described as tyranny the attempt to muscle out those who were not in support of Obi’s presidential ambition, stressing that this attitude might endanger the future political and economic interests of the Igbos, if not checked.

While acknowledging the anger of some youths in urban cities and the Diaspora over the trajectory of the country or with the candidates of the major parties, the governor lectured his adversaries on the tenets of democracy, stating that the minority would have their say, but the majority their way.

According to him, translating anger and social media agitation into political outcomes requires humongous work.

Weighing the LP standard bearer’s chances in the forthcoming poll, the governor said, “Let’s be clear: Peter Obi knows that he can’t and won’t win. He knows the game he is playing, and we know too; and he knows that we know.

“The game he is playing is the main reason he didn’t return to APGA. The brutal truth (and some will say, God forbid) is that there are two persons/parties seriously contesting for president: the rest is exciting drama!

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“That many Americans may not like the fact that Joe Biden (79 years) and Donald Trump (76 years) are two frontrunners for president in their parties does not remove the fact that if both of them emerge as candidates, definitely one of them will be president in 2024.

“As my brother, I wish him well and even pray for him. I told him during his courtesy call that my prayer is that himself or Prof Umeadi of APGA would win, why not?

“That is from my heart, but I also told him that my head and facts on the ground led me to know that it’s probability is next to zero (what I cannot say before you, I won’t say behind you).’’

Stating that Obi might not come third in the race, Soludo contended that the LP lacked the structure to win the presidential election in 2023.

He added, “So, I already told him my opinion. As my brother, I wish him well and even pray for him. Indeed, there is no credible pathway for him near the first two positions, and if care is not taken, he won’t even near the third position.

‘’Analysts tell him you don’t need “structure” to win. Fantasy! Of course, LP won governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun on social media and via phantom polls, while getting barely 2,000 votes on ground.’’

The governor conceded that the LP candidate would get some votes in his home state of Anambra, but noted that this would not take him anywhere.

“Of course, Peter Obi will get some votes, and may probably win in Anambra State— as “home boy”. But Anambra is not Nigeria. If he likes, I can even campaign for him but that won’t change much. From internal state-by-state polling available to me, he was on course to get 25 per cent in five states as of August this year. The latest polling shows that it is down to four states, and declining,’’ he submitted.

Dismissing claims that he was envious of his predecessor, Soludo said he and Obi had been friends for a long time, adding that he vowed never to leave APGA for another party.

The governor added, ‘’The same Peter Obi was one of those who told Ndigbo that APGA was the vehicle through which Igbos would organise to engage the rest of Nigeria politically. He was said to have sworn to Ojukwu and publicly that he would quit politics the day he leaves APGA. The rest is history. When he was the vice-presidential candidate under PDP in 2019, the emotive train then dubbed the ticket “the Igbo project”. As then chairman of planning and strategy committee of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, I cautioned for a more pragmatic approach but the emotive blaze of the time held sway. We were vindicated afterwards.

‘’By the way, in 2016, he visited and proposed that I defect to the PDP and contest the 2017 election against the incumbent Willie Obiano, but I declined. After my victory in November 2021, he called to congratulate me as I did to him in 2010. That is the Anambra way: we fight fiercely during campaigns but share drinks at the next social events. After all, it was the great Zik of Africa who taught us that in politics, there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies but only permanent interests.’’

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The governor noted the failure of the LP to field candidates for the two chambers of the National Assembly in Lagos, adding sarcastically that he would have given Obi money if he were the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, for making his victory easier.

He stated, ‘’Not even in Lagos State (supposed headquarters of urban youths) where the Labour Party could not find candidates to contest for House of Reps or Senate.

“The polls also show that he is taking votes away mostly from the PDP. Indeed, if I were Asiwaju Tinubu, I would even give Peter Obi money as someone heading one of the departments of his campaign because Obi is making Tinubu’s pathway to victory much easier by indirectly pulling down.’’

Partner APC, PDP

Soludo urged South-East leaders to strategise and bargain with the two candidates likely to win the 2023 general elections to bring an end to the problem facing the South-East region.

The Economics professor argued that the bargaining was necessary to bring lasting peace to the region as well as secure the release of the detained Indigenous People of Biafra leader, Nnamdi Kanu; South East economic transformation and restructuring, among others.

He noted, ‘’For starters, Ohanaeze should study the report of my committee (planning and strategy) in 2019. It may still be relevant today. Second, Ndigbo should seriously study the MoU signed at the Yar’Adua Centre in 2010. The leader of the Igbo Political Association, Chief Simon Okeke, and our members are still there.

“Thirdly and for me, Ndigbo should strategise and bargain, especially with the two candidates likely to be president on at least four central issues: Lasting peace and security in the South-East, including the release and engagement with Nnamdi Kanu.

“South-East Economic transformation agenda and the FGN’s Marshall Plan for the South East as promised since the end of the Civil War (the post-war ‘reconstruction’). We appreciate the Second Niger Bridge and the recent contract for MTN to reconstruct the Onitsha-Enugu expressway.

‘’But the rail lines to the five state capitals, speedy access to the sea, highways linking South East to the North and South-South, addressing our existential threat as gully erosion capital of Africa, Free Trade and Export Processing Zones, etc.

“Restructuring Agenda for Nigeria that devolves powers/resources to the subnational entities and in which it would no longer matter where the President comes from.

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“Leveling the playing field for the unleashing of the private sector and the full participation of Ndigbo in the economic and governance space, etc.’’

Soludo wished Obi goodluck, but cautioned against social media mob action, noting that ‘’a mob action often reflects the character of its leader.’’

‘’No one has a monopoly on social media violence, and no one should play God. Life won’t end by February/March 2023,’’ he concluded.

Obi’s camp reacts

Reacting to Soludo’s article, the spokesman for Labour Party Presidential Campaign Council, Yunusa Tanko, accused him of being used by the opposition to scuttle Obi’s presidential ambition.

He said, “Soludo feels he is larger than life and that if it is not him, it should not be anybody. But God has chosen Obi and there is nothing he can do about it. He should just go and lick his wounds.

“The fact still remains that it is Obi on the ballot. He does not have the capacity to determine whether Obi will win or not. As we are seeing it, Obi is winning a landslide victory.”

On whether Soludo has an axe to grind to Obi in the build-up to the 2023 elections, Tanko dismissed the thought, saying the target was to suppress the LP’s growing profile in the region.

“Soludo is just allowing himself to be used. It is an orchestrated attempt to weaken our own base starting from Anambra to other states in the South East. That was the strategy.

“I don’t know why he is trying to risk everything he has for this particular negative cause. But we will rely on the love that would be shown by Obi’s people to triumph during our campaign there,” he said.

The National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, Victor Oye, declined comment, saying he didn’t want to be involved in the issue.

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