Peter Obi’s Resignation from the PDP: Examining the Igbo Option to Nigeria’s Presidency
By Ebuka Onyekwelu
Since 2020, I devoted time to analyzing chances of securing Nigeria’s president of Igbo extraction. At the time, I had argued that Nigeria’s president of Igbo extraction is not a Nigerian project but an Igbo project and hence, Igbo political elites should own it and drive it. But this never happened. Up till a little over two months ago, Peter Obi had maintained that he was not contesting for the highest office in the country, insisting that he will contest only if his party, the PDP, zones it to the Southeast. He later joined the contest, even as his party failed to zone it to the Southeast and now, he has pulled out. My prediction from the get go had been that to be a serious contender in any major political party say the PDP and APC, then, there must be synergy among the political players from the region and very importantly, aspirants must start on time. On both instances, they failed. There is no synergy and aspirants did not start on time, which is their worst mistake that may swallow the Igbo Presidency project.
In my preceding argument, I had said that there were two possible political options the Igbo can use to ride to the nation’s presidency; one is to own the structure of the existing national political parties with capacity to win presidential election and second is to create their own political front and bid for the presidency through a serious coalition with other people groups across the country. Those were, and still are the only viable two options. Peter Obi cannot win the PDP ticket if he is not considerably in charge of the party’s structure. That is a political fact many Obi’s supporters do not understand. If Peter Obi started on time, maybe he would have reconstructed the PDP’s membership and change the narrative. But it’s already a lost game.
For the second option, the only person who owned up to it early is Prof. Kingsley Moghalu. In 2019, Moghalu moved with the second option when he brought YPP from nowhere and used it to mount an idea-driven campaign for the presidency. He did not succeed, but he made an incredible mark nation-wide. Again, ahead of 2023, Prof. Moghalu is the first presidential aspirant of Igbo extraction, to declare interest. This time, he has pitched tent with the ADC. My impression is that since 2019, Prof. Moghalu’s calculation puts him forward as an original political thinker, a social change crusader and an idea bearer. The eternal truth is that the two dominant political parties can only serve the purpose the people wants if it is hijacked by a different set of leaders. Politically speaking, it is far more expensive and uncertain to attempt to hijack those established parties, than to seek a new platform and build it to serve tailored purpose. This is what Prof. Moghalu has been doing since 2019. It is what Peter Obi wants to do now.
Obi has realized that he cannot win PDP’s ticket after he joined the contest at the last minute and he was not in charge of the party structure. How will his new alliance pan out? The truth is that seeing what may likely happen, the APC may make certain adjustments to wither any serious chances of losing the presidency. I suspect on reason, that Alhaji Bola Tinubu, APC’s national leader, has reached some form of alliance with Kwankwaso, hence his campaign DG resigned from APC to join the new party, NNPP, which is Obi’s likely alternative. If Tinubu will be required to sacrifice his ambition in the new party for Peter Obi, why would he not do it in APC? So, the chances with the new party to be modest, is unclear. Add to it that it is doubtful by preexisting political calculations that new alliances formed barely nine months to the General Election with no solid background ab initio, can win the presidency.
There is a world of difference between reality and expectations. Politics finds expression upon reality. And so, without a miracle, Peter Obi’s aspiration on a new political platform will be to make a point, not necessarily to win. So the clamour for Nigeria’s president of Igbo extraction might have been set up for final requiem, till the next political season.
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