“By far, Anambra voters are willing to consider other candidates despite the fact that Peter Obi, their son, brother, and former two-term governor of the state, is on the ballot.” —Ebuka Onyekwelu
The candidate of the All Progressives Congress- APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has intensified consultations across the country ahead of the February 25th Presidential Election. On January 31st, he was in Awka the Anambra State capital, for his party’s Presidential rally. On the same day, he was also in Calabar, Cross River State capital for the rally.
Bola Tinubu’s rally in Awka was remarkable in many ways. The candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, is from Anambra State. So, many people may have assumed that Anambra has been locked down for Peter Obi. However, yesterday’s massive turnout and the warm reception given to Bola Tinubu and his team, said otherwise.
During the Presidential rally, the entire Ekwueme Square in Awka, the venue of the rally, was filled to the brim, yet, hundreds of attendees outside the venue in clusters around the Anambra State House of Assembly and other places nearby. The impression really, is that the APC is solidly on the ground in the state. It would be impossible to argue otherwise.
Earlier when Peter Obi held his Presidential rally in Anambra State, which was held in the field of All Saints Anglican Cathedral in Onitsha, the turnout was not as impressive. Recall that Peter Obi grew up in Onitsha and have been living there to date. Yet, his rally in that city failed to record an impressive turnout, despite the ease in mobilizing people to Onitsha because of the high level of commercial activities, as well as the proximity of Onitsha to Okpoko where thousands of people can be mobilized to the rally ground in a matter of a few hours. In fact, the Anambra State Presidential rally of the Labour Party remains one of the worst organized, and least attended.
Compared to Bola Tinubu’s outing, it is perceptible that Anambra’s votes are contestable. By far, Anambra voters are willing to consider other candidates despite the fact that Peter Obi, their son, brother, and former two-term governor of the state, is on the ballot. This is the beauty of democracy and the quintessence of Igbo liberalism. It just points to the fact that in reality, Igbos do not hate anybody or any party, in Nigeria.
More so, this is where it gets interesting. APC since 2015 has reconstructed the election landscape of Nigeria, demonstrating that the party can win Presidential Election without substantial input of the Southeast. In fact, even today, that reality subsists. So, the APC can only be interested in securing paltry 25% of votes in Southeast states and this they achieve without campaigning in the zone. APC does not need to campaign in Anambra to pick up a few thousand votes and get it’s 25%.
Beyond political victory, what Nigeria needs is a leader whose ability to unite Nigerians has been tested and proven.
With about ten million and some fraction registered voters in the Southeast which is the least in the entire federation, as against over twenty-two million voters in the Northwest and over seventeen million in the Southwest; political arithmetic dictates that focus must be centered on where the numbers are. The APC candidate, Bola Tinubu, is aware of that fact. Yet, Tinubu comes to Anambra to campaign and has in fact almost gone around the entire Southeast States, begging for votes and support. Despite the fact that he, literally can win without the zone, he is in the zone engaging the people and pointing to real needs of the zone that he will address. For instance, yesterday, he said he would address the erosion menace in Anambra State. He also assured that he would turn the state into an industrial hub. Certainly, those two are germane if Anambra must fully realise its potential. Considering the state’s comparative advantage, Anambra can only do well with concentrated efforts towards enhanced industrialization. The point really is that from the outing, it would appear that Tinubu did not just come to Anambra to make bogus campaign statements. He, it does appear, had looked at the state and saw where the state requires partnership with the federal government, to make a difference. If federal government partners with Anambra state in the areas of erosion control and industrialization, nothing else will be more profound in the state’s quest for development.
More significantly, Bola Tinubu’s rally in Anambra and other Southeastern states is indicative of a man that is prepared to govern a multidimensional country, like Nigeria. Tinubu knows that APC had its electoral map figured out and can win without Southeast, therefore, his visit is beyond politics. Politics is one thing and governance is another thing. Tinubu has shown clear signs of readiness to govern a complex country like Nigeria. APC might be able to win without Southeast, but no President can govern Nigeria without any section of the country. It would therefore, to that extent, appear that Tinubu is prepared to give every section of the country its due place in his government, beyond electoral victory. This is not entirely new. Tinubu has been consistent with his pan-Nigerian posturing. As Lagos State Governor, Ben Akabueze from Dunukofia LGA in Anambra State, was his Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning. Lai Mohammed from Kwara State was also in his cabinet, among many others from different parts of Nigeria.
Beyond political victory, what Nigeria needs is a leader whose ability to unite Nigerians has been tested and proven. A leader who is not only calculating electoral victory, but one who has the nuances, and candor to carry everyone along devoid of any political or electoral relevance attached to numbers.