The Labour Party (LP) has reiterated its acceptance of former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s support for the party’s standard bearer in the forthcoming presidential election, Peter Obi.
Deputy National Chairman of the Labour Party, Ayo Olorunfemi, during a live appearance on Channels Television’s Sunrise Politics on Wednesday, rejected the idea that the endorsement is a mere “pat on the back.”
According to him, Obasanjo, like many Nigerians, feels the pain brought on by corruption.
“We’re looking at those few Nigerians that have stolen our money and believe that they are so powerful. They have weaponized poverty, and they believe that money can do everything. No, Nigerians are departing from that narrative,” he said.
“He’s telling them right now that ‘you can’t continue to suffer in this manner. You don’t have any reason to suffer in this manner, and therefore, I am giving this guy a clean bill.’
“[Obasanjo is saying] ‘I’m giving this guy an endorsement, so that Nigerians will know that [with] the benefit of experience, this person is better than every other candidate, particularly those candidates from the two so-called major political parties.
“These are the people that ganged up against us and threw this country into this mess.”
He described the ex-president’s New Year endorsement as a “big deal,” saying as far as Nigeria is concerned, his significance cannot be undermined.
“He’s an important figure, an elder statesman, a nationalist, somebody who has seen it all. He participated in the Civil War. He was the one that handed over power from the military to a civilian in 1979.
“Even when people were not expecting him to do so, he did that. And you saw his coming back between 1999 and 2007, how he was able to set a very solid foundation for economic growth and development in Nigeria,” he said.
Describing Obasanjo as a man of integrity, the LP stalwart recalled the former president’s strongly worded letter to former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2013 in which the successor was asked to “forget about” his re-election bid in 2015.
“Jonathan’s boys then joked with the advice and we all saw what happened thereafter. Of course, he has written several letters to this administration cautioning and warning and they refused. All can see the result of that.
“If Obasanjo is endorsing the Labour Party, particularly our presidential candidate, it means he’s seeing something,” he said.
‘Foreign Influence, No Electoral Value’
However, Deputy Director, Media and Publicity, All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Council (APC PCC), Ali Muhammed Ali, described Obasanjo’s decision to address Nigerian youths specifically as strategic.
In the wake of the endorsement, the former president’s popularity and electoral influence have been a one of contention with supporters citing his pivotal role in resolving the two-year Ethiopia-Tigray crisis last November.
However, Ali’s position is that Obasanjo’s influence abroad has no bearing on his electoral value.
Similarly, a member of the Media and Publicity Committee, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) PCC, Tunde Olusunle, called to question the timing of the endorsement.
“Perhaps if this endorsement was coming before now, or perhaps if Obasanjo actually went out of his way to help in a leadership grooming and recruitment process, maybe things would have been a lot better [for LP],” he said. (Channels TV)
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