Home Opinion 2023: Zoning, merit and Peter Obi’s electoral  value; By Law Mefor

2023: Zoning, merit and Peter Obi’s electoral  value; By Law Mefor

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Peter Obi

Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.” Psalm 42:7

There has been a misguided counter-narrative against the campaign for Nigerian President of South-East extraction. The opponents of this just and noble campaign say that zoning is against merit and as  such, the nation is robbed of the chance of being led by a capable hand that will be cut off by zoning and rotation. This argument is warped, baseless and incurably defective for there is no zone in Nigeria that cannot survive and grow as an independent, industrialised nation. Each of the 6 geopolitical zones averages a population of about 30 m and the population of nearly half of the nations of the world is below 30 m.

To stretch the argument further, many great countries have populations ranging from 5 m to 30 m, each producing leaders that took them to their enviable heights. Countries such as Netherlands, Australia, Israel, Romania, Chile, Ecuador, Rwanda, Belgium, Cuba, Czech Republic, Greece and others. The point is that the population of each of the geopolitical  zones in Nigeria is sufficient to ensure the emergence  of qualified persons to lead the country to enviable heights as these countries with relatively small populations who attained greatness, have all demonstrated.

For a fact, there is no zone in Nigeria that does not have very competent hands to provide leadership for the country. Leadership qualities and capabilities are not a prerogative or genetic inheritance of any ethnic group or zone (the so-called born-to-rule). If such exists, those who have arrogated power and leadership of the country to themselves all this while, should have been able to take the country out of poverty and out of the 3rd World.

It bears repeating, rotation of presidential power between North and South Nigeria is a necessity borne out of structural imbalances in the Nigerian federation and that is why it has been the convention since the return of Nigeria to the current democratic dispensation. The two divides (North and South) have been able to provide good enough leadership for the country, without sacrificing merit. Olusegun Obasanjo, for all intent and purposes, was a great President (South). Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was brilliant too (North). When the nation zoned to either North or South to produce these men as President, merit was not sacrificed.  Campaigners for the President of South-East extraction are therefore not asking that merit  be sacrificed: pick from their very best and Nigeria and Nigerians will be the better for it.

Zoning to the South-East will not compromise or sacrifice merit on the altar of political expediency because the South-East has very capable hands that have played at national and international stage for Nigerians to make their pick. And some of them have already indicated interest in running for the Presidential office. Among such ‘wise men from the East’ are; in the PDP, Peter Obi, Anyim Pius Anyim and Sam Ohuabunwa who have already purchased nomination forms. In APC, Dr. Chris Ngige, Gov. Dave Umahi, Sen. Rochas Okorocha and Orji Uzor Kalu have also indicated interest to run and there are one or two others in sundry political parties such as Prof Kingsley Moghalu. These men are very capable hands that can run Nigeria creditably and equitably, turn things around, and make happiness and life more abundant to all citizens of Nigeria.

The abridged CV of one of these eminent Igbo sons – Mr. Peter Obi – will be annexed for evaluation by whoever really cares. We challenge others to do the same and let Nigerians be the judge regarding who amongst these aspirants from round the country is most qualified to lead Nigeria at this material time.

If merit has any definition, Peter Obi’s experience, capacity, integrity and everything else shine forth like the brightest of stars. Unless those touting merit have a different meaning for the concept.

The electoral value of Peter Obi also goes beyond what his great CV eloquently captures. In the 2019 presidential election, Peter Obi was on the ballot as vice presidential candidate of the PDP. Peter Obi won his state (Anambra) for the PDP by 96%. The PDP victory was so unprecedented in that election. The party won in every polling unit, in all the 360 wards, and in all the 21 LGs. The victory of the PDP was also total in the entire South-East. The zone was solidly behind the Atiku/Obi ticket for the reason of the personality of Peter Obi.

Compared to Atiku the PDP flag bearer, Peter Obi demonstrated he had higher electoral value. The PDP flag-bearer in that election, Atiku Abubakar, almost lost Adamawa, his state, to Muhammadu Buhari. Though Atiku won by a small majority in Adamawa state in the 2019 presidential election , he won only 10 LGs while Buhari won in 11 LGs.

There is no doubt that the PDP fielding Peter Obi in 2023 would elicit greater pull in the South-East and the entire South, and is also very likely to significantly make an impact in the North.

The youths of Nigeria, regardless of creed and tongue, like and trust Peter Obi for a good reason. The proof of this assertion can be checked out by reviewing how Peter Obi’s declaration for president trended for about a week in the social media. No other aspirant attracted such attention. That is sort of a referendum of what his performance would be in a general election.

His sterling performance as governor laid a firm foundation for education, health, security and infrastructure in Anambra state. Before Peter Obi left as governor, Anambra had become the safest state in Nigeria, a status the state lost in the last few months, following the invasion of Anambra by the so-called UGM from other states.  Anambra has been placing first or second in NECO and WASC examinations in the last decade in Nigeria and it is a Peter Obi legacy, sustained by Willie Obiano, his successor.

Nigeria is besieged by six key issues, which Peter Obi is supremely placed to address, namely: insecurity, corruption, economic downturn, restructuring   Nigeria and economic diversification.  One certain way that Psychologists predict future behaviour  is through past behaviour. Apart from being a self-made billionaire, Peter Obi has proved to be an expert in wealth and job creation  both in the private and public sector  as he demonstrated when he was a 2-time  governor of Anambra state.  His presidency can engender the creative economy that can connect the nation to the 4th industrial revolution breaking forth globally, which is driven by Tech, ICT, and digitalization/digitization.

Peter Obi creatively found a way round insecurity in Anambra State, which was a microcosm of whatever obtained then in Nigeria. Such solutions can be extrapolated with modifications to address the Nigerian dire security situation. Workable security architecture can be negotiated by such a man, including designing and negotiating how state police and community police can work in Nigeria. If it worked in the other 25 countries of the world practicing federalism, there is no reason it cannot work in Nigeria. It only requires patriotic leadership, political will, technical knowledge and deep insights.

The best way to fight corruption is by personal example and strict adherence to due process.  Peter Obi is uncorrupted by public office and therefore he is without reproach.  He has been out of power for 8 years and is about the only former governor in this dispensation that has not been summoned by the EFCC, ICPC or Code of Conduct Bureau. He is also a stickler to rule of law and due process. He is frugal and abhors extravagance and inessential spending. As governor, he approved only the contracts that met best competitive tenders and within profit margins allowed by global best practices. As President, one should not expect the usual brazen contract bazaars and contract inflations to continue or shoddy contracts executions under his watch. There has to be due process and frugal management of the nation’s scarce resources.

Indeed, by merit or by zoning as demanded by social justice, South-East is best positioned and qualified to fly the flags of the two political parties  as exemplified in Peter Obi.

Peter Obi’s abridged CV is hereby annexed. You be the judge while awaiting those arguing against zoning based on the so-called merit to bring forth their strongest argument. Let them lay their preferred aspirants’ credentials side by side for dispassionate comparisons.

•Dr. Law Mefor is an Abuja based Forensic/Social Psychologist and Journalist; email: [email protected]; Tel.: +234-905 642 4375; tweet: @LawMefor1.

Annexure – Abridged CV of Mr. Peter Obi

WHO IS PETER OBI?

NAME: Mr. Peter Gregory OBI, (CON)

DATE OF BIRTH : 19th July 1961,

PLACE OF BIRTH: Onitsha, Nigeria

NATIONALITY: Nigerian

MARITAL STATUS: Married with two children

EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS ATTENDED

• Christ the King College, Onitsha (W.A.S.C.)

. University of Nigeria, Nsukka (B.A. Philosophy)

• Lagos Business School, Nigeria (Chief Executive Program)

• Harvard Business School, Boston, U.S.A. (Mid to Mid Marketing)

• Harvard Business School, Boston, U.S.A. (Changing the Game)

• London School of Economics (Financial Mgmt/Business Policy)

• Columbia Business School, New York, U.S.A. (Marketing Mgmt )

• Institute for Management Development, Switzerland (Senior Executive Program)

• Institute for Management Development, Switzerland (Break-Through Program for CEOs)

• Kellogg Graduate School of Management, U.S.A. (Advanced Executive Program)

• Kellogg School of Management U.S.A. (Global Advanced Mgmt Program)

. Oxford University: Said Business School, (Advanced Mgmt& Leadership Program)

. Cambridge University: George Business School (Advanced Leadership Program)

PREVIOUS POSITIONS

• Governor, Anambra State of Nigeria (2006-2014)

• Honorary Special Adviser to the President on Finance (till May, 2015)

• Member, Presidential Economic Management Team (till May, 2015)

• Vice-Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum (2008-2014)

• Chairman, South-East Governors’ Forum (2006-2014)

. Former Chairman: Board of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

• Former Chairman: Fidelity Bank Plc.

• Former Chairman: Guardian Express Mortgage Bank, Ltd.

• Former Chairman: Future Views Securities, Ltd.

• Former Chairman: Paymaster Nigeria Plc.

• Former Chairman: Next International (Nigeria) Ltd

• Former Director: Guardian Express Bank Plc.

• Former Director: Chams Nigeria Plc.

• Former Director: Emerging Capital Ltd

• Former Director: Card Centre Plc

MEMBERSHIP OF PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS/ORGANIZATIONS

• Member, Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG)

• Member, Nigerian Chartered Institute of Bankers

• Member, British Institute of Directors (IOD)

MEMBERSHIP OF FEDERAL GOVERNMENT COMMITTEES

In my capacity as the Governor of Anambra State, I served as a member of:

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*Federal Government Committee on Minimum Wage

*Federal Government Committee on Negotiation with Labour on Subsidy

*Federal Government Committee on Mass Transit

*Federal Government Committee on Natural Resource

*National Economic Council Committee on Power Sector Reform

*National Economic Council Committee on Sharing of MDGs Funds

*National Economic Council Committee on Accurate Data on Nigeria’s Oil Import and Export

*Agricultural Transformation Implementation Council

*Sub-Committee on Needs Analysis of Public Universities in Nigeria

*National Economic Council Review Committee on the Power Sector

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

2015: Golden Jubilee Award from Catholic Diocese of Onitsha for outstanding contribution to quality healthcare delivery in St. Charles Borromeo Hospital in particular and Anambra State in general, on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee celebration of the hospital.

*2014: Nigerian Library Association Golden Merit Award for remarkable improvement of libraries in Anambra State, exemplified by our Government’s construction of the Kenneth Dike Digital State Library, remarkable upgrade of the Onitsha Divisional Library, and provision of library facilities in secondary schools across the State.

*2014: Champion Newspaper Most Outstanding Igbo Man of the Decade.

* 2014 The Voice Newspaper (Holand) Achievers Award for Outstanding Example in Leadership and Governance.

*2013: Silver Bird Man of the Year (with Governor BabatundeFashola of Lagos State).

*2012: Business Hallmark Newspaper Man of the Year.

*2012: The Golden Award on Prudence – by the Methodist Church of Nigeria as the Most

Financially Prudent Governor in Nigeria.

* 2012: Leadership and Good Governance Award by The Ezeife Leadership Foundation Award for restoring peace and harmony to Anambra State.

* 2012: Best Performing Governor on Immunization in South-East Nigeria – by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

* 2012: Outstanding Financial Planner and Manager – by the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion for my resourcefulness and creativity in governance.

*2011: Zik Leadership Prize.

*2010: ICT Governor of the Year – by the West Africa ICT Development Award.

*2009: Champion Newspaper Nigeria’s Most Trustworthy Governor Award.

*2009: Thisday Newspaper Most Prudent Governor in Nigeria.

*2007: The Sun Newspaper Man of the Year Award.

**The Nigerian MDGs Office/UNDP Best Governor in the Implementation of the MDGs in Nigeria

INTRODUCTION OF CONSTITUTIONAL AND OTHER MAJOR CHANGES IN NIGERIAN POLITICS

*He was the first gubernatorial candidate in Nigeria to legally challenge to its logical conclusion, his governorship electoral victory that was denied him. He won in the Courts and reclaimed his mandate.

*He was the first Governor in Nigeria to legally challenge his wrongful impeachment and was reinstated by the Courts.

*He was the first Governor in Nigeria to seek the interpretation of tenures of Governors when INEC allowed elections to take place in Anambra State when his tenure had not expired; the election already concluded was cancelled and he was allowed to complete his tenure.

*He was the first Governor to serve a 2nd term in both the new and old Anambra State, that is, almost 40 years after creation of the State.

*He was the first Governor, whilst still in Office, to be appointed a Special Adviser to the President.

*He was the first serving Governor to be appointed into the Presidential Economic Management Team.

*He was among the first Governors to be honoured with a National Award in 2011, while still in office.

*Though the only Governor whose political party was in government in only one State, he was elected Vice-Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum twice.

*Though the only non-PDP Governor in the South-East (made up of 5 States), he was elected by the other 4 PDP Governors as their Chairman for 8 years rather than the usual one year.

FUNDAMENTAL ACHIEVEMENTS AS GOVERNOR OF ANAMBRA STATE (PARTIAL LISTING)

1. Anambra was the first State to commence Sub-Sovereign Wealth savings, the first of its kind in Sub-Saharan Africa. At a time many other Governors were leaving huge debts, I left the equivalent of $500 million Dollars in investment as well as local and foreign currency, including $156 million in Dollar-denominated bonds.

2. For the first time in the history of Anambra State, Ambassadors and High Commissioners of notable countries such as United Stated, Britain, Russia, European Union, South Africa, Belgium, Israel, the Netherlands, Canada, among others, visited the State. Before my tenure, Anambra was practically a pariah state blacklisted by the Diplomatic Corps and international development partners.

3. Development partners such as UNDP, UNICEF, the World Bank, DFID, the European Union etc., which hitherto were not in Anambra State started working with the State. Anambra was consistently adjudged one of the best states in development partnership and commitment to reforms for good governance.

4. He was recognised as Best Governor by the Millennium Development Goals Office (OSSAP-MDGs) and the UNDP in the implementation of their programmes in Nigeria.

5. The Nigerian Debt Management Office (DMO) rated Anambra as the least indebted state in Nigeria. In spite of visible and measurable achievements recorded in various sectors, the State under him did not borrow or raise bonds for her various projects.

6. The Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria rated Anambra State as the most financially stable state in the country.

7. The State’s ground-breaking return of schools to their original owners – Voluntary Agencies (Churches) on 1st January 2009, and subsequent partnership with the Agencies in Education, saw the State move from 24th position out of 36 States to Number One in National Examination Council (NECO) and West African Examination Council (WAEC) examinations for three consecutive years. This made the World Bank to commission a study, led by the renowned Prof. Paul Collier of Oxford University, on this revolutionary partnership and phenomenal achievement.

8. The State also entered into strategic partnership with the Churches in the Health sector. This symbiotic relationship resulted in a tremendous boost to health care because of the services offered by health institutions owned by Voluntary Agencies, while the State restored grants to the agencies and made available to them more than 50 million Dollars in various types of support.

10. Through partnership with the Church in the Health sector, his Government funded the transformation of -:

a: Iyienu Hospital, Ogidi;

b: Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Ihiala;

c: St Charles Borromeo Hospital, Onitsha;

d: Holy Rosary Hospital, Waterside, Onitsha; and

e: St. Joseph Hospital, Adazi-Nnukwu.

His Government also built the Joseph Nwilo Heart Centre in St. Joseph, Adazi-Nnukwu, where heart operations are now being performed.

11. His Government won the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (1 Million dollars) as the best-performing state in immunisation in the South-East. With complementary funding from our Government, they used the money to build 10 Maternal and Child Care Centres across the State, particularly in rural communities, in partnership with the Churches.

12. The State was the first to procure and distribute more than 30,000 computers to secondary schools, including 22,500 from HP. The Managing Director for Personal Systems Group HP Inc, Mr. FabriceCampoy described the deployment as the biggest of such projects in the Middle-East and Africa.

13. Anambra State Government provided Microsoft Academies to more than 500 secondary schools, which the Head of Microsoft in Nigeria (Mr. Ken Span) described as the biggest such deployment in Africa so far.

14. The State provided Internet access to more than 500 secondary schools, which the CEO of Galaxy Backbone (Mr. Gerald Ilukwe) characterized as incomparable to any in the country.

15. More than 700 buses were provided to secondary schools in the State by our Government.

16. Boreholes were provided in schools all over the State.

17. Numerous classrooms were built in all the 177 communities of the State.

18 As part of the efforts to turn around the economy of the State, a number of companies were attracted to build their facilities in the Anambra State. A case in point is SABMiller, the 2nd largest brewery in the world, which built their first Green Field facility in the State, which is today one of the most successful facilities they operate globally.

19. A number of other companies followed the SABMiller initiative and were all supported and encouraged under our Government; a good example is INNOSON Motor Manufacturing Company, from which our government bought more than 1,000 vehicles.

20. Anambra State for the first time started close collaboration with recognized government security agencies (the Police, Army, Navy, Department of State Security, Civil Defence, among others), offering them various types of support including provision of more than 500 security vehicles. The improvement in security was phenomenal, such that the former IG of Police (Abubakar Mohammed) lauded Anambra State for not witnessing any bank robbery in my last three years in office.

21. To further enhance security, Anambra State provided at least one security vehicle to each of all the 177 communities in the State as well as various organizations such as markets and Churches.

22. His Administration conceived and built, from scratch, the first state-owned Teaching Hospital, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu teaching Hospital, Awka.

23. His Government commenced the planned development of the Igbariam Campus of the ChukwuemekaOdumegwu-Ojukwu University, including the fencing, construction of internal roads, electrification, construction of the Faculty of Law, Auditorium, Administrative Block, Faculty of Agriculture, Management Building, among others).

24. His Government attracted the World Bank support on erosion – National Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) – to Anambra State.

25. His Government was the first to do Poverty Mapping in Nigeria, as a guide for the effective implementation of our poverty-alleviation strategies.

26 His Government, for the first time, undertook the aerial mapping of Awka as well as the production of Structure Plans for Awka Capital Territory, Onitsha and Nnewi.

27. During his tenure and with his Government’s support, Anambra State became an oil producing State.

28. He built the first Secretariat Complex to house State Government Ministries that were hitherto scattered around the State.

29. His government commenced the development of the ‘Three Arms Zone’ comprising Government House/Governor’s Lodge, Legislative Building/Speakers Residence, and Judiciary Building with Chief Judge’s Residence.

30. By the end of his tenure in 2014, more than twelve (12) health institutions, including two hospitals, had secured accreditation; when we took off in 2006, no health institution in Anambra State was duly accredited.

31. Anambra State was the first to undergo national peer review, which scrutinised State Governments for good governance, through the State Peer Review Mechanism (SPRM), an initiative of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum in collaboration with the DFID.

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