In less than 48 hours, Nigerians will head to the polls to determine who will be the next President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I have been clear on my preferred candidate from the onset, and my faith in seeing a Peter Obi victory has only grown stronger through the duration of the campaign.
The national acceptance of the Labour Party Presidential Candidate has been a display of the grace of God as millions of well meaning Nigerians across the South, North, East, and West have come to believe in the competence, character, capacity and compassion of Obi ahead of the other candidates.
I am proud of his antecedents of excellent service and integrity. I am equally elated that he is an Igbo man. For someone like me who has been an advocate of reclaiming our identity as a people of honour, hard work, and honesty, the leadership he has provided is one I am glad to support in its entirety.
This is why it is a shock to me that a good number of the attacks against Mr. Peter Obi has come from our own people. I must make it clear that Obi is not an Igbo candidate.
I must also state that I am proudly Nigerian, and as many know, I grew up in different parts of the country and speak the three major languages. However, this fact co-exists with the reality that I am of Igbo extraction. As I respect my brothers in the North, the South and the West who lay claim to their Nigerian citizenship but also recognize and promote their ethnic origin, I am not afraid to bear my father’s name and speak up in the interest of our people.
Recently, while making a formal endorsement of Obi, Samuel Ortom, the governor of Benue State asked ndi Igbo a critical question – “What do you want? What are you looking for?”
For years, there has been a general outcry about the marginalisation of ndi Igbo since the end of the civil war. At no time have we had the opportunity as we do today to reclaim a prime spot at the helm of affairs in the country.
Why then do we have prominent sons and daughters of Alaigbo who have chosen to condemn their own while trumpeting support for people who history has shown will never do the same for us?
We recall Atiku Abubakar’s blatant statement to his kinsmen in the North in October that “What the average Northerner needs is someone from the North. He doesn’t need a Yoruba candidate or an Igbo candidate.”
It feels like watching a hen that eats its young before it has a chance to hatch. We must stop explaining or apologising for our Igboness. We must stop berating the good people who have the courage to challenge the status quo.
While meritocracy remains my top criteria for the selection and election of leaders, it smacks of puerile brinkmanship to fail to recognise the geo-ethnic sensitivities that exist. I am inspired by the rainbow-support that the ObiDatti candidacy has garnered from tens of millions of people across all ethnic groups in Nigeria.
I celebrate Ohaneze Ndigbo, Nzuko Umunna, and Anya Ndigbo for taking a firm stand with Peter Obi, as well as the Nigerian Christian Elders, Boot Party and the African Democratic Party.
I am thankful for leaders such as former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Pa Adebanjo, Atedo Peterside, TY Danjuma, Samuel Ortom, Pastor Paul Enenche and many more people and groups who have openly supported and campaigned for an Obi presidency.
As we head to the polls on Saturday, I urge ndi Igbo to ask again and answer honestly – what do you want?
If the answer is the progress of Nigeria ahead of personal interests, you have every reason to cast your vote for Peter Obi of the Labour Party.
God bless Nigeria.
Frank Nweke Jr.
APGA Gubernatorial Candidate, Enugu State.