Aypbami Ife, Abeokuta
The Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate, Peter Obi, has urged traditional rulers, particularly the Alake and Paramount ruler of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, to direct his people to vote for Obi – Datti ticket on February 25, lest they come for him later if the current suffering persists with the wrong choice of President after after May 29.
Obi said he was aware that traditional rulers are non- partisan on issues of politics, but added that they could give directive to their subjects on the path to follow and which would be obeyed as the traditional rulers have the capacity to do so.
The presidential hopeful spoke on Saturday during his meeting with the Alake and Paramount Ruler of Egbaland, Oba (Dr.) Adedotun Gbadebo and Egba chiefs at the Ake Palace Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
He expressed the fear that should the nation’s traditional rulers fail to appropriately direct their subjects in respect of 2023 polls, they may flee their kingdoms if the people stormed palaces due to suffering and hardship.
According to him, the traditional rulers should champion the advocacy that will lead Nigerian electorate to cast their votes for competent presidential candidate in the forthcoming poll.
Obi who was accompanied to the palace by his running mate, Datti Yusuf Ahmed, Senator Femi Okunrounmu, female activist; Aisha Yesufu among others, described Nigeria as a “great country in the hands of few who do not know how to manage it.”
“Nigeria is a great country, but we have all allowed it to be in the hands of few who do not know how to manage it. Your Majesty, that is why we are here; to plead for your blessings. We know that no royal father goes into politics, but when your subjects are dying and if you don’t intervene, one day, they will come for you for there is no alternative, please, safe them”.
“Though you cannot go into politics, but we know you can give directives and I know that your directives will be obeyed because yo have the capacity.” he said.
He explained that he and his running mate were in the palace to seek the monarch’s prayer, support and blessing, assuring that Obi – Datti ticket if elected, would reposition Nigeria.
“We are here in Abeokuta today for our state rally and we deemed it necessary that we have to come here and pay our respect and loyalty to you His Majesty.
“We have also want to use this opportunity to bring to your attention, what we have been doing across the country.
“Our party; the Labour Party (LP) is committed to a new Nigeria. Datti and myself have been going round Nigeria, preaching to everybody on this new Nigeria.
“Nigeria can be classified as a failed state because the two most important ingredients of a failed state is here fortified. When you’re no longer in control of your territory, so it becomes one of the most unsecured state on the surface of the earth.
“Insecurity is number one: nobody dares go out and be sure that he would return safe.
“Number two is the economy: within the past 20 years, all Nigeria has achieved is doubled the number of poor people in the country.
“The National Bureau of Statistics said we have 120 Million people living in multi-dimensional poverty. That is higher than India with a total population of 1. 4 Billion people. Today, Nigeria has the highest number of people living in poverty than India and China combined.
“As at today, we have over 20 million children out of school; unemployment: youths unemployment is over 50 percent.
“Youths drugs prevalence is over 14 percent. What is the cause of these? Leadership failure over the years! It is the cumulative effects of leadership failures over the years. They have failed to recognise and pursue a goal along the lines that is expected.
“So, myself and Datti are committed to reversing it (the trend) and that is why we say a ‘New Nigeria’ is possible. We have being to places where other presidential candidates cannot dare go and campaign because we have determined that our first priority is to secure and unite this country. We must reunite the country because as at today, the country is so much divided.
Our number two priority is to ensure that this country is served with the rules of law.
“Our number three priority is to remove Nigeria from a consumption to a production economy. Currently, Nigeria is not producing anything. Over the years, we have been borrowing and throwing the money away into consumption rather that production investment.
“Unlike what Nigeria was during the Tafawa Balewa, who in 1964, borrowed the country’s first loan of US$82 to build the Kainji Dam. 58 years after, the Kainji Dam is still there functional to start the economic growth for the country and everyone can see it. But today, our total debt is US$77 Trillion converted at N410.
“If we have divided this by what Tafawa Balewa borrowed, we would have 160 Kainji Dams and that would have obviously solved all the problems of electricity needs of the country and we wouldn’t have been where we are today.
But we want to bring a New Nigeria where all the stealing and looting stop and liberate our people from the shackles of poverty because the more our people move out of the shackles of poverty, the more we reduce crimes and criminality in the society.
“This is why we have been going round the country, preaching to our traditional rulers that this year’s general elections should not be based on ethnicity. We are tired of that. No tribe is free from insecurity and poverty that is being produced everyday in Nigeria. Every tribe is suffering.
“We have also said that it should not be based on religion as none is free from insecurity. These are what some politicians contribute to come to power. It is not the turn of anybody, but the turn of every Nigerian. This year’s elections must be based on characters and the truth.
“For me, I have served the people of Anambra state and was rated as number 1 in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the records are there. Even in the areas of education and taking people out of poverty without borrowing a Kobo from anybody and I paid all the pensions being owed before I assumed office.
So, let presidential candidates come out and show Nigerians what they have done in the past before aspiring to govern the country.
“We are determined for a new Nigeria; we want people who are confident, who are qualified for the job. This year’s elections is very essential, we can no longer be comfortable with incompetence. We want people who will show commitments; this job requires physical and mental energies. So, w want people who are ready for the job. Myself and Datti want to change Nigeria.
“Nigeria with 200 million people can feed itself like India is doing. We are more agricultural than India and we can export goods. Nigeria can earn more from agriculture; we can no longer go the way we are going.
“So, we want to remove the sharing formula and replace it with production formula and that is why we said we are going on restructuring to make the country more productive without waiting for any federal revenue sharing. So it is going to be more effective. It is so sad to hear that Nigeria now consumes more than what Pakistan consumes daily in fuel because of the subsidy.
“Myself and Datti want to change Nigeria; we are the only set of people that can do that. We have the capacity to do that and that is why we are saying that you should entrust us with the country and we will make it a great country. Hold us responsible to deal with this matter,” he said.
However, Obi later addressed hundreds of labour party members and supporters at the presidential rally at Ake which was attended by Director – General of Peter Obi – Datti Presidential Campaign Council, Akin Osuntokun, National chairman of the party, Barr. Julius Abure, the state governorship candidate of the party, Segun Shogunle among others.
Speaking at the rally, the acting leader of the Yoruba socio -cultural organisation, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo on Saturday asked Nigerians to elect Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP) as President on February 25, warning that failure to produce a president of Igbo extraction in 2023 could mean the end of Nigeria.
Adebanjo who led the Presidential Campaign train of LP to Ake Palace Square, Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, said the yorubas have had their turn in ex – president Olusegun Obasanjo, stressing that it is not in the nature of the ethnic group to take what rightfully belongs to others.
He explained the North and the South South had had their turns too in late Umaru Musa Yar’adua /President Muhammadu Buhari and Goodluck Jonathan respectively, saying since the dawn of democracy in 1999, no one from the Southeast geopolitical zone has occupied the number one office in the land.
Adebanjo, a elder statesman and disciple of late premier of Old Western Region of the country, Chief Obafemi Awolowo,
said Afenifere is behind Obi over the 2023 presidential race because of justice, fairness and equity, adding that the LP presidential candidate’s electioneering programmes and promises aligned perfectly with that espoused and implemented by Obafemi Awolowo in Western Region.