Peter Obi learnt one key lesson from 2023 election – Yunusa Tanko

Peter Obi learnt one key lesson from 2023 election – Yunusa Tanko
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Mr Peter Obi. [Getty Images]

Tanko responded to the controversies around the ongoing internal crisis in the Labour Party and its leadership.

The 2027 general elections may be three years away, but Nigerian politicians are already making moves, and Peter Obi has been the centre of attraction.

The candidate who finished third in the 2023 presidential election has remained in campaign mode and kept himself relevant around national issues.

In an exclusive interview with Pulse Nigeria, Dr Yunusa Tanko, the chief spokesman of the Obi-Datti campaign organisation, disclosed Obi’s plans, the ongoing crisis within the Labour Party, and the impact of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).

Dr Tanko also disclosed Obi’s merger plan and relationship with the party’s national leadership under Julius Abure.

Weeks ago, the Labour Party had a serious internal crisis that prompted Peter Obi to disassociate himself from the Obidient community. Can you please shed some more light on that?

No, he never dissociated himself from the Obidient community. What he said was that while the Labour Party was trying to build a structure, the party made a pronouncement that there would be an Obidient directorate, which a lot of the Obidient members, which is an amorphous organisation, pronounced that they cannot be under any political party. They said they are for good governance, which Peter Obi represents.

That is the reason he came out and said that the Obidient movement itself is bigger than the Labour Party.

Peter Obi has said he’s still on the fence about the Labour Party’s internal crisis. If this crisis does not reach a point whereby all parties come together and reach a compromise, what would be his next move?

At this particular point in time, that particular dish is not on our table. What is on the table of His Excellency is building a political party that everybody will be proud of.

Therefore, the idea of leaving the party is not crossing his mind at the moment, but resolving these particular challenges that are within the political party itself, which is the umbilical between the Labour Party and then the NLC-led National Transition Committee.

There’s this particular narrative that it’s the NLC that wants to take over. No, actually, it is the stakeholders who believe in the party. So, in that case, let us look at the modus operandi and the legality of all of this particular process so that we will not run foul of either the Labour Party or the National Transition Committee that was formed by the NLC. And these are facts that he has already been able to get from those who are already in charge of this particular NLC.

And he has now gotten a more informed position for him to broker peace as a father and as a leader. This is the next step that he’s going to take.

Which brings me to Obi’s candidacy. There’s this popular thought that Obi’s candidacy is borne out of an obsession for an Igbo presidency. How true is this?

No, that is far from it. Because if you look at it carefully, people will even tell you that the people from the Southeastern part of this country did not come out and say, “This is our candidate.

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His Excellency emerged from the point of view of getting a credible candidate. Fortunately, he happened to be an Igbo man. He cannot deny that.

But then the first thing remains that he is actually a candidate for promoting good governance. It was that message that resonated with the Nigerian youth who cut across different tribes and religions.

I give you an example of myself. I am from Kano State. Nana Kazaure is from Jigawa State. Dele Farotimi is from the west. Therefore, we represent Nigeria, and we are supporting the candidate of Peter Obi. So, can you now say that it is a particular tribe? No, no, no. It is because we are convinced about the messages that he’s selling to the Nigerian people that puts us in this particular situation that we are.

We have no apology but to continue to promote that because we believe that even an Igbo man is a Nigerian, isn’t he? A Yoruba man is a Nigerian. A Hausa man is a Nigerian. As long as we are promoting good governance, every Nigerian should be in this particular template.

Mr Peter Obi [Getty Images]
Mr Peter Obi [Getty Images]

If Peter Obi becomes president, it means the South would have done two back-to-back tenures. Would the North want him to go for a second term in 2031 if he wins in 2027? Is it going to be like a hindrance for the North on the premise that their chances might be affected in future elections after 2027?

With all due respect, our regional politics and rotational positions exist because of the incompetence and incapability of those who have found themselves in power.

All we are asking for is that if we have a president or any leader from any part of this country performing exceedingly well in his position of power and he has shown capacity, competency, consistency, believe me, nobody will be championing, let it be South today and let it be North tomorrow.

I want to assure Nigerians that let us test Peter Obi on what he did in Anambra, what he said in his mouth and what he had taken as an actionable plan. Put him for that particular four years, that will be a judgment test for you to know whether he has the competency or the capacity to change the negative narrative.

Nigeria has a lot of decay in the system. We have a very terrible system that we are not sure whether anything can work in this country. Some have almost lost hope. So we need somebody to really bring back that particular hope.

And with all respect for what I know and what I have seen of Peter Obi, I feel he has the capacity to turn around things.

But if there is no way out of this current dispute in the Labour Party, what do you think would be Peter Obi’s next move?

Well, I really pray there will be a solution to the problem. But of course, when we get to that particular bridge, we’ll find a way of crossing.

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Is he open to a merger?

He’s not talking about a merger. But of course, he’s interested in a larger house where people will come in, let’s work together. Because we have a country to save.

One, two, or three people cannot do this. You need a lot of experienced people who can come together to help in solving the problem. So if we stand our foot and we’re able to get the Labour Party going the way it ought to, and if a PDP or a ZLP or ADP or any other political party say, we want to work with you to salvage the situation, everybody will be welcome.

Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi [Facebook]
Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi [Facebook]

If there’s to be a collaboration between Peter Obi and Atiku, who gets the gun?

At the moment, it’s not about who gets the gun. It’s about who has that particular capacity to deliver that particular promise for the people. And I think the pendulum is very, very clear.

Especially the way the Nigerian youth are yearning. But we want to win the election. We want to win the election for the Nigerian people so that we can do what we preach.

Going back to Peter Obi’s statement about sitting on the fence, do you know the relationship between him and Abure at the moment?

It’s a very cordial relationship. It’s like a father-and-son relationship. Just like any other person. Your hand cannot get rotten, and you just throw it away. You make every effort to make sure the hand regains its health. You carry all the other hands along so that no other part of the hand feels neglected because you are a father and you are the owner of that particular hand.

And you want to make sure that you see that collectively when they work together, they will be more lateral and fertile than when they work alone.

How close is Kenneth Okonkwo and Peter Obi? Because he made some statements recently that he’s no longer interested in some of the shady happenings in the party.

Individuals make statements, and when they base them on their personal principles, you cannot dispute their facts.

You can only look at it and then measure those you can use as an added advantage so that you can advance on where you are found wanting. When you criticise me, I don’t look at it as if you are insulting me. I look at it as an opportunity for me to look at those particular values that you’ve already exalted so that I can add to what I’ve already had to be a better person.

So, when Kenneth Okonkwo makes his own position known, he has made it from his own observation, and I can tell you His Excellency will take a look at it and look at those particular values and add to what he has so that we can move on together as a team. There’s no rebuking in this particular situation.

Kenneth Okonkwo [Facebook]
Kenneth Okonkwo [Facebook]

I want to talk about a statement Kenneth Okonkwo made during a recent interview. He said the unlawful detention of Nnamdi Kanu is more like a tribalistic bias. And that he’s a political prisoner. What’s your take on this?

Everybody in every part of this country has a right to agitate but within the confines of the law. Today, we are in a democratic system, and the democratic system is governed and guided by the rule of law and order.

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The rule of law may sound negative to the judicial position of certain people when they are being meted out to them, but it is the guiding principle of our democracy.

Just like we were not happy about the pronouncement of the Supreme Court on our judgment. Even though we know that particular judgment was inimical and it was not respecting the wills of the people.

In the case of Nnamdi Kanu, if the court found him wanting and jailed him for a certain part, another court has now said that he is not guilty and that he should be set free because of certain things, then you look at the superiority of the pronouncement of each of the cases, and then you set him free, or you jail him according to the position of the land.

So it is the pronouncement of the law and order that’s supposed to reign supreme. I know that heinous crimes have been committed, and a lot of incitement has been made. But the court of the land now has said otherwise. If we don’t follow the laws and the court, we may have anarchy.

Talking about courts and the judiciary and how the election tribunal turned out in favour of President Tinubu, what lessons has Peter Obi himself learnt, and what lessons has the Labour Party learnt?

One of the lessons that was learnt is that it is important for us to be more organised in any of the things that we are doing.

And that is why there is this particular struggle for the leadership of the Labour Party. A lot of us believe that processes that ought to have been done were not being followed, for example, as regards the national convention that ought to have come from the ward to the national level.

No sane political party will want to start this convention from the top when it knows that it has no verifiable leadership on the ground. Because politics is actually on the ground.

So, the leadership is vehemently in a position to say that the processes must be followed. And that is where the position of His Excellency is. Let’s follow those particular processes for us to have an institutionalised, legalised and legitimate leader who will be in a position of power.

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