Towards selling himself to Nigerians and most especially the people of the South West region, the campaign train of the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi, last Saturday, was in Ibadan, the Oyo state capital, the second time in less than a month.

Whatever informed his return to the city which has been regarded as the political headquarters of Yorubaland shortly after his campaign flag off, may be seen as mystery to the undiscerning, but it turned out to be a political visit of high note given his first point of call, the palace of the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Olalekan Balogun.

For political watchers while the coming election would be a three-horse race between the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and LP, however it is an open secret that the South West region has been in the grip of the APC for some years now and coupled with the fact that its presidential candidate who is from the region is also the national leader of the party.

It stands to reason therefore that Obi who some pundits believe is only representing a section of the country would do everything possible to make more inroad to the South West region most especially after getting the endorsement of the leadership of the pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, whose acting leader, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, had consistently continued to support his candidature.

The presidential candidate of LP, Obi, while speaking at the Alarere palace of the first class monarch, told Oba Balogun and his Advisory Council members who are High Chiefs including Balogun of Ibadanland, Owolabi Olakulehin, Osi Balogun, Lateef Adebimpe, Ashipa Balogun, Kola Adegbola, Osi Olubadan, Eddy Oyewole and Ekerin Olubadan, Hamidu Ajibade, that the 2023 presidential election should not be about tribe, ethnicity and religion but character and competence, stating that those variables are elite conspiracy to keep down the nation.

According to him, “Where have all those taken us to? I’m offering Nigerians what I did in Anambra State as two-term governor. I have been asking Nigerians to investigate all of us aspiring to lead the country. What did we do at our previous points of assignments? Mine is not difficult to do for Your Imperial Majesty as our in-law in Onitsha where I hail from, just a tap on any of our people there, my profile would be made known.

“Other things to consider when making our presidential choice which I strongly believe would not be based on party basis are character, competence, capacity, commitment and mental and physical energy to do the work. We can make all promises, but, let us examine the person making the promises using the parameters identified above. How much of trust can we place in the person making the promise”?

Under his presidency, Obi said the states would be epicenter of activities, noting that the idea of holing up in Abuja without actually knowing what goes on around the states of the country would be a thing of the past. He lamented that virtually all the infrastructures belonging to the Federal Government in the states have collapsed, making movement and meaningful development almost impossible.

The LP flag bearee reeled out various data and statistics to assert that Nigeria is not where it is supposed to be, going by its vast human and natural resources, lamenting that Nigeria is the only member of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Country (OPEC) where oil is being stolen virtually on daily basis to the tune of billions of dollars, yet, oil money remains the mainstay of the country’s foreign earnings.

He said, “The government to be formed by the Labour Party (LP) come May 2023 would fight corruption because there can never be any progress under the regime where corruption remains the order of the day. By the time corruption is confronted headlong and defeated, criminality will reduce as a lot of jobless youths would be taken out of unemployment and poverty. We must get this country back on its feet and make it work again. This is my message to you Kabiyesi and the people of Ibadanland and I’m sure that with your support, it is doable.”

Oba Balogun in a speech delivered by the Otun Balogun of Ibadanland, High Chief Tajudeen Ajibola, lauded Obi, who was accompanied by the Oyo State gubernatorial candidate, Taofiq Akinwale, members of his campaign organization, led by Dr. Doyin Okupe, Akin Osuntokun, the Secretary General of Afenifere, Chief Sola Ebiseni, Chief (Mrs.) Bola Doherty and Mogaji Gboyega Adejumo, for his delivery on the various problems confronting the country and how he would tackle them to bring about a new Nigeria that citizens would be proud of, urging him to remain focused and be committed to his programmes as brilliantly espoused.

“As should be expected, Olubadan is the father of all and sees you all as his children. A widely traveled monarch, he is open-hearted and harbours no hatred for anybody for whatever purpose. We are happy to see you and your presentation bore eloquence testimony to your rich understanding of what you set out to do and one can only pray to God to grant you your heart desires and ability to follow to the letter your plan for a better and prosperous Nigeria”, Olubadan said.

The Osi Olubadan of Ibadanland, High Chief Eddy Oyewole, in his closing remarks, declared openly the unanimous endorsement of Obi by the monarch and the entire Ibadan traditional council, praying for his good health and protection.

Obi while also speaking on the same day at the first and second convocation ceremonies of the Dominican University, Ibadan, declared himself the most qualified person to move the country forward while expressing optimism of securing the maximum votes in the Southwest region.

The LP presidential candidate who is the Pro-Chancellor of the university, insisted that he has what it takes to move the country to the promised land if elected in 2023, stating he has proved he could do the job.

According to him, “And my promise is a promise that I will deliver, is for us to look at our promises and how we will be able to deliver in parts.

“The job requires a lot of physical and mental energy; its for you to assess who is most likely to do the job, for me it is to secure and unite Nigeria, ensure that we move it from consumption to production that is the only way we can pull people out of poverty by creating jobs and creating opportunities and things we begin to turn around if we are able to do that.

“I will invest in health and I will invest in education; we will start from basic education to ensure that people are educated at the basic level, at tertiary level we will find a combination that will enable us to work where our students will no longer go on strike. It’s not acceptable, we will pull people out of poverty, we would work hard to remove Nigeria from consumer to producer, we would support the private sector, which in turn they will provide more jobs for our youths.”

On his chances of securing votes in the Southwest region, especially Oyo state, Obi noted that, “Ibadan requires a lot of federal presence. Oyo is big, Ibadan in particular is a huge city, Ibadan is as big as Lagos.

“Ibadan alone can compare to Lagos and in terms of population it is huge and requires special attention, the infrastructures are there, there are so many youths unemployed and I commend the Governor who I considered is doing a good work, but it needs federal government intervention to support the development.

“It’s a place we can think of if we want to invest in education, there are so many schools and when it comes to the health sector it is also a center of excellence, people used to visit the University College Hospital, Ibadan, but today the reverse is the case because people no longer come there. So there is a lot to do here, whenever I’m in Ibadan I feel at home, when I got to the palace today I was received with a very good and warm reception.”

On insinuations in some quarters that he did not have the required structure to forge ahead, the LP presidential candidate dispelled the insinuations, adding that, “The structure is human being, the number one structure is God, the number two is human being and you people are my structure because you believe in me and in what I’m saying.

“Whatever I say or I promise, I can do it, you can go and verify based on my past performances where I have passed through before, so what structure again do you want me to do?

“The structure we have today is structure of criminality, structure of underdevelopment, the structure that has ruined the country, so the question is that do you want to continue with the existing structure or you want a new structure?

“If they said I give unverifiable statistics let them come with their alternatives, if you say I’m wrong let them provide their own, they cannot say I’m wrong if they failed to give their own, for every statement or statistics I made, if you look at ten I will get nine, quote me anywhere, and have always maintained over 75 percent. I know what I’m talking, have been there and I know what it takes; they have not shown anything,” Obi posited.

For political analysts the former Anambra state governor is no doubt gaining mileage in his various shuttles across the country seeking the endorsement and support of major stakeholders, however time would tell whether this would translate into vote for the businessman turned politician.

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