In less than 58 days, Nigerians would go to the polls to decide who would become the next President of the Country. As I have stated in my previous articles – this election is make or mar for the country depending on the decision the electorate make.
As it stands there are three frontliners, Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Atiku Abubakar of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party and the thirdforce – Labour Party led by Peter Obi.
In what appears to be the biggest political dilemma in two decades, the polls do not project any clear winner as most people have suggested that the country may for the first time witness a runoff election.
But another twist of fate to the electoral process is the fact that the usual ex-generals or Cabal in the country have not shown support for any of the two major political candidates in this election.
But two names have tacitly showed where they lean. In October, 2022 at the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Award Night, former President Olusegun Obasanjo resorted to theatrics as he symbolically vacated his seat and asked Obi to take it over from him.
He then announced, “ehen, my job is done”. This has been interpreted as a signal that the Elder statesman supports Obi.
To further fuel insinuations of Obasanjo’s support for Peter Obi, both Doyin Okupe who resigned his position as Director General of the Obi-Datti Presidential Campaign and his successor, Akin Osuntokun are former aides and strong acquaintances of the Ex- President.
A recent report on the London meeting of aggrieved governors in the Peoples Democratic Party indicated that they might be influenced by former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s advice that the Presidency should come to the South-East in 2023.
For a while, there were reports that retired General, T.Y Danjuma was supporting Obi and donated a private jet which Obi eventually denied. But the retired General has not reflected any affiliation or support for any other candidate other than Obi.
While Obi appears to be garnering support, political observers are left to ponder on if Obi’s drive in the Presidential race is being fuelled by support by these Ex-Generals.
Several accounts have shown the extent of influence of these generals in deciding who takes the helms in Nigeria since 1999.
For Instance in Chapter 73 of the book, “Beyond Ideas by Bishop of the Ekiti Catholic Diocese, Bishop Felix Ajakaye in of his book “Danjuma, Obasanjo and Co, Please Let Nigeria be”, he recounts how the former Minister of Defence, Lt. Gen Theophilus Danjuma said he raised $7million dollars for the first term election of Obasanjo.
A book by former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Chidi Odinkalu and another writer, Ayisha Osori, titled, ‘Too Good to Die: Third Term and the Myth of the Indispensable Man in Africa’ shares a similar account.
The authors said the trio of Ibrahim Babangida, Theophilus Danjuma and Abdulsalami Abubakar wanted PDP to adopt Obasanjo as their presidential candidate “because they considered him the best person for the job”.
“Implicit in their position was their belief that they knew how to manipulate Obasanjo and the fact that Obasanjo did their bidding in 1979. They felt secure that he could be managed again,” the authors wrote.
For those who doubt the influence of the Ex-Generals, the “hajj” by presidential aspirants and candidates to Obasanjo, Danjuma and the evil genius himself, Ibrahim Babangida reinforces popular belief that these generals may well be major deciding factor.
The only time the script was flipped outside of the influence of these generals was in 2019 when President Muhhamadu Buhari relied on the power of incumbency and cult like following in the North to secure a win.
While the Ex- generals have a right to support a candidate of their choice, the following questions must be asked.
- Why have they opted to support a certain presidential candidate, is it for their selfish benefits or for the sake of the country.
- Like other accounts have stated, do they see their support for a certain candidate as an investment that must be repaid at the expense of the country?
- Have previous endorsements of some candidates proven to be of any good to Nigeria?
- Did these Ex-generals during their time in charge of the country reflect patriotism to Nigeria in the discharge of their duties?
If satisfactory answers cannot be provided, then, “Obasanjo and Co should let Nigeria be” and should have no influence, outside of their one vote in deciding who becomes President.
Nigerians should without sentiments, decide who they want as their next president and make their demands known to him.