It was a fine, sunny day last Thursday, March 24. At the Government House Conference Centre, Awka, Anambra state capital, there was a feeling of excitement and optimism. The timing could not have been better. Inside the Hall was Mr.Peter Obi, a former Governor of the state, and vice presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the 2019 general elections. Soon, one by one, men and women began to arrive. They greeted one another, smiling and waving to a clutch of reporters. Among them were notable Royal fathers, Town Union leaders and a coterie of politicians, all from Anambra state. They had assembled for an event of great importance.      

The meeting that took place shortly was a consultation of some sort by Obi. He briefed his guests on what he has decided to do. It’s about the 2023 presidency and his desire to run for the highest office in the land. Though the official declaration is slated for April 2, nothing more is hidden: Peter Obi is in it, and for good measure, to give it his best. Very often, many people want to be president, but very few are leaders in the true sense of it: using great power for great purposes. But Obi says, he’s not in that mold; he’s uniquely different. He has defined the goals, the vision and purpose of his presidential ambition in a way that gives coherence. This is key because, responsibility abandoned today will likely return as more acute crises tomorrow.        

That’s why Nigeria is on the brink now. And Obi’s speech last Thursday was a forceful case for a new leadership in Nigeria. “I am strongly in the race, fully prepared for the contest”, he said. Besides, he said, if he wins the  PDP nomination and the presidency next year, he will lead a government that will unite and serve the country and manage the nation’s resources effectively and efficiently. Undoubtedly, Nigeria today is a broken nation. Polarized and in need of healing. We need a uniter, not a divider any more. Obi’s track record speaks volumes of what he’s capable of doing. Deconstructing Obi’s promise to unite Nigeria, he spoke the truth. Nigerians have lost faith in their elected leaders and institutions. Currently, there’s a huge disconnect between the leaders and the citizens. Someone needs to restore that trust. The country yearns for performance of a leader.                                       

His attributes are not in doubt: Obi has a quick mind and ability to articulate issues and proffer solutions. His performance as an entrepreneur and governor is a proof that he has the capacity, the confidence and willingness to deliver. “I am not aspiring for political position, but for an opportunity to serve the the people of Nigeria”. Again, that’s a forceful case of a man of vision and thinker, not your usual politician who wants power for his own advancement. And without a vision beyond one’s own selfish gains, that person and the country is paralyzed once the goal has been achieved. That’s why Nigeria has been heading in the wrong direction all these years. Obi has been tested and tried. He’s trustworthy. If Nigeria must move from a consumption nation to producing and exporting country, Nigeria needs this man to build a better future for for all. Before he passed on, respected Igbo leader,Dim Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu crafted a fitting testimonial of Obi, when he said, “I have not met up  to five men in my life who are as decent and urbane as Peter”.                     

I am inclined to believe that’s one of the reasons Obi is the right man for the nation’s top job. Very often, Obi talks about leadership,what poor leadership has caused the country and his own vision for the country. In all of these instances, the present administration has failed. Nigeria is not strong any more, we are not respected any longer. The economy is in a shambles, inflation is surging, cost of living is now beyond the reach of most Nigerians, insecurity has reached its most frightening level. The nation is in darkness as power outages have become a frequent nightmare. 

The question in the forthcoming campaign for the 2023 presidency is not who, among the aspirants has a better vision for Nigeria. The question is who will act to make that vision a reality. If we are ready for truth simply spoken, we must demand performance, character, competence and integrity of those seeking to be the next President. I agree with Obi that it’s about time we began to seriously interrogate the character, competence and capacity of those who seek high public offices, especially the presidency. What have such people done in the past? Have such persons managed wealth and leadership positions successfully? Knowledgeable and competent leadership are prerequisites for progress of a diverse nation such as ours. Therefore, competent leadership and good governance have become critical tools in achieving inclusiveness, in attaining high level of productivity in all sectors.                                    

It takes a purposeful leader to harness these and make better things happen. More than ever before, we  need someone who understands the working of the economy, somebody who can deliver on his promises. Every where you look, our economic landscape has negative outlook, devastated by inept leadership and flip-flop policies. For the first time, it’s time to look beyond primordial sentiments, get a thinker who can deploy ideas to solving the challenges facing our nation and the people. Obi has proved that he’s a good manager of resources. He is proud of his legacy, stressing that everything he has done regarding management of resources, “I have managed them proudly”. His experience in both private and public sectors makes him eminently qualified for the job. He brims with confidence whenever he says he has what it takes to secure the country, create jobs and wealth, pull Nigeria out of its present poverty trap. If track record of success is a guide for the kind of President Nigeria needs next Nigeria, never in the present democratic dispensation has a governor left in the treasury of his state  a hefty N75trn in cash and investment. This is in addition to millions of dollars in long-term investment in designated banks in the country.  Obi did that. According to him, that rare accomplishment was the outcome of a careful study of what has made China the second largest economy in the world today that our economy has compiled dismal records in every sector is not in contention. It is largely because the leadership has failed to think in a creative way and deploy ideas that will change things. This is why the country is in its worst situation imaginable and unparalleled suffering and hardship by the people. These challenges are of immediate sort. They are sufficient to test the mettle of any Chief Executive. The truth is that the present administration has no mantle left. It’s out of touch with reality. There’s no doubt that Nigeria has been badly mismanaged in the last seven years. A new direction is needed, a new set of leadership with focus has become imperative. It bears repeating, to borrow the words of a former U.S. President Gerald R.Ford, that the  ‘Presidency is not a prize to be won but a duty to be done’. As Obi has  explained, the power and glamour of the presidency should not be the driving objective. The challenge to rescue Nigeria from its present quagmire should supersede all things. For that to happen,  PDP must put its house in order. Rotation of the Presidency is a hot potato that the main opposition party should handle carefully. Equity, fairness and justice demand that power shifts to the South, especially to the South East. Former Senate President Anyim Pius Anyim, and entrepreneur extraordinaire, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, are also in the presidential race. They possess the imaginative visionary attributes to achieve great things with power if given the opportunity to fly the party’s flag next year.

     

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