Soludo: I Won’t Succumb to Bullies, Obi Knows He Can’t Win

•Says he’s making Tinubu’s pathway to victory much easier, toying with Ndigbo’s destiny

•Anambra governor being sponsored to weaken our candidate, LP fumes

Emameh Gabriel in Abuja and David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka

Anambra State Governor, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, has said he is sure the candidate of Labour Party (LP), Mr Peter Obi, would lose the 2023 presidential election. Soludo said he would not submit to the bullying of Obi’s supporters, who recently descended on him for addressing issues in the state.

The governor made the comments in a lengthy write-up personally authored, with the title, “History Beckons, and I Will Not Be Silent (Part 1).”

Soludo said Obi was inadvertently making the pathway to victory much easier for the presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, and at the same time, toying with the destiny of millions of Ndigbo.

But the chief spokesperson for the Labour Party Presidential Campaign, Yunusa Tanko, accused Soludo of being sponsored by some unknown persons to weaken the base of the party in the South-east.

The former CBN governor had been under intense attack for close to a week for dismissing Obi’s investment in the state as amounting to nothing, during a television interview.

Soludo said in the write-up, “My attention has been drawn to some of the tirades on social media following my frank response during an interview on Channels TV regarding the ‘investments’ Mr. Peter Obi claimed to have made with Anambra State revenues.

“Sadly, several of the comments left the issue of the interview to probe or suggest motives, inferred from my response on ‘investment’ that I am opposed to Peter Obi’s ambition and, therefore, committed a ‘crime’ for which the punishment is internecine abuse and harassment, even to my family.

“Everyone knows that I don’t follow the winds or one to succumb to bullies, or shy away from a good fight especially, when weighty matters of principles and future of the people are involved.”

Soludo said he had urged Obi to return to his former party, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), to actualise his presidential bid. He added that he had always told the LP candidate to his face that he was not capable of winning the 2023 presidential election, especially, under LP, which had neither a councillor nor a local government chairman.

Soludo said Obi was not just his friend, but also his brother, but despite that, they have their political differences.

He stated, “For full disclosure, let me state that Peter Obi and I are not just friends, we call ourselves ‘brothers’. But we have political differences: he left APGA for PDP after his tenure as governor, while I have remained in APGA since 2013.

“During the last two governorship elections in Anambra in 2017 and 2021, he led the PDP campaigns but APGA won landslide in both elections. By the way, in 2016, he visited and proposed that I defect to PDP and contest the 2017 election against the incumbent Willie Obiano, but I declined.

“After my victory in November 2021, he called to congratulate me, as I did to him in 2010. That is the Anambra way: we fight fiercely during campaigns but share drinks at the next social events. After all, it was the Great Zik of Africa, who taught us that in politics, there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies but only permanent interests.”

Arguing that Obi’s presidential bid would only work in favour of Tinubu, Soludo said, “Indeed, if I were Asiwaju Tinubu, I would even give Peter Obi money as someone heading one of the departments of his campaign, because Obi is making Tinubu’s pathway to victory much easier by indirectly pulling down PDP.”

Obi, according to Soludo, would only deplete the votes of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and pave the path for an APC victory.

He stated, “The current fleeting frenzy, if not checked, will cost Ndigbo dearly for years. The South-east has the lowest number of votes of any region, but it is also the only region where the presidential race might be a four-way race (it is a two-way race in the other five regions) thereby, ensuring that our votes won’t count in the making of the next president of Nigeria.

“Afterwards, we would start complaining that we don’t get ‘what we deserve’ or cry of marginalisation. During the 2019 presidential election, the five South-east states were united for PDP but contributed merely 1.6 million votes to PDP, which was about the votes that Kano state gave to Buhari.

“The emotions might run to heavens but politics-power is about cold calculations, organisation and building alliances for power. In a democracy, it is a game of numbers.

“So far, I don’t see any of these— and 2023 might again be a wasted opportunity for Ndigbo! What is our Plan B, when Peter Obi loses in February 2023? Some people prefer that we should play the Ostrich while Peter Obi toys with the collective destiny of over 60 million Igbos.

“Yes, you pray that he wins, but what if he fails, as he is certain to? The Bible says that my people perish for lack of knowledge. As the saying goes, only those who plan can control the future. Ndigbo, wake up and smell the coffee.

“Of course, Peter Obi will get some votes and may probably win in Anambra State— as “home boy”. But Anambra is not Nigeria. If he likes, I can even campaign for him but that won’t change much.

“From internal state by state polling available to me, he was on course to get 25% in five states as at August this year. The latest polling shows that it is down to four states and declining.

“Not even in Lagos State (supposed headquarters of urban youths), where Labour Party could not find candidates to contest for House of Reps or Senate. The polls also show that he is taking votes away mostly from PDP. I used to think that for decent people, certain conducts are off-limits, and that in Anambra, politics is not warfare.

“Ideally, I should just have laughed off the infantile exuberances, as many friends advised (I am used to this, having been in the ‘Arena’ for a while). I always re-read the quote ‘The Man in the Arena…’ by President Theodore Roosevelt (1910) to remind myself of the burden of public office.

“Several well-meaning Nigerians and Ndigbo called to advise that I should just ignore them. A respected Igbo elder statesman, who called, advised that I should just ignore what he described as ‘Peter Obi and his social media mob’. According to him, ‘everyone knows that he is going nowhere but they are looking for who to blame.

“Everyone knows that I don’t follow the winds nor one to succumb to bullies, nor shy away from a good fight especially when weighty matters of principles and future of the people are involved. One lesson I learnt from my former boss and mentor, President Obasanjo, is never to be on the fence.

“I learnt that one must always take a stand: for better or for worse. I do so with every sense of humility, and leave history to judge. Most people have commended me for ‘tactfully avoiding being drawn into the Peter Obi issue’ until now.

“Since I am now being forced into the arena on this matter, I have a duty and a right of reply, if only for the records, and to also give the social media mob something substantive to rant upon and rain their abuses for weeks.

“In this preliminary response, there are some things I will refrain from saying here because, in the end, February/March 2023 will come and go, and life will continue.”

Meanwhile, Tanko, who spoke exclusively to THISDAY, advised Soludo to concentrate on governance and avoid comments that might put himself and the state in danger.

He said, “We want to believe that Soludo is being sponsored in order to attack our base in the South-east, because, in the first instance, we have no any correlation with Soludo. So, why has he decided to attack our principal?

“It seems to us that it’s a grand plan to try to see that if they can weaken us from our base. But the truth is that they are making us even popular. The people are the ones even responding to the attacks. But we want to advise that it’s very good that Soludo should look at the future and not the present, because he is just starting as a governor.

“He has not done anything yet. Not even a block has he put on ground and yet, he is putting the people of Anambra State in dilemma and in danger. He should be conscious enough to know the dangers he is putting himself and the people of Anambra into.”

Asked to mention those allegedly sponsoring Soludo, Tanko said, “He could be sponsored from any angle. We cannot be specific but it’s very clear because instead of facing governance, he is attacking Obi.”

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