OHUABUMWA WELCOME TO THE 2023 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN.
“We are not coming with anger and recrimination, but with equity, we need to come out and make Nigeria work.” Mazi Ohuabumwa, Presidential Candidate, New Nigeria Group, NNG, January 20,2021.
I an totally delighted that, early in 2021, an Igbo candidate has defied those counselling that it is too early to start talking about 2023 elections. I am strongly convinced that it is not only appropriate, it might even be too late to start the campaign for President, Governor, Senate etc in 2023. American President, Clinton, started his campaign for US Presidency the day the result of the Presidential election was announced – which George Bush Senior won. So, with all due respects to the elder statesmen urging people to wait, I think this is the time to start.
My joy is doubled because the first serious candidate to toss his hat into the ring is from the South East. Again, I believe in the old saying that “heaven helps those who help themselves.” To that must be added the advice provided by the title of Professor Wole Soyinka’s book – “You must set out at dawn.” Mazi has set out early, I wish him all the best – because I have known him for a long time as a worthy Nigerian to lead the nation. Let me provide a brief introduction from my own perspective.
Furthermore, I know you more than most other potential candidates and more than most Nigerians. Even though we met last about ten years ago, let me use this first opportunity of commenting about your new role as a Presidential candidate to reveal a side of you few people know. Even those who will not eventually vote for you, if fair-minded, will agree that you deserve the chance.
Although not a pharmacist, I was in the pharmaceutical sector as Marketing Manager, National Sales Manager/Director and Field Sales Manager for three multi-nationals – Abbott Laboratories, Boots Nigeria Ltd and Smith Kline and French (now part of GlaxoSmithKline) from 1974 to 1981 before going off to North Brewery Limited, Kano as Marketing Manager. You were with Pfizer during those nearly seven years in the pharmaceutical sector; but, because our products were not in direct competition, we never had to go head to head in the market. But, then as now, the sector was a small club of people engaged in friendly rivalry. The top managers knew who was where and the progress they were making. Thus, in 1977, when you first became the first Nigerian Managing Director of, not only Pfizer but any multinational drug firm,, nobody doubted it was honour well-deserved. I certainly did not. After all, Pfizer and Boots were next door neighbours at Oregun. We frequently peeped over the fence to know what was going on!!
Your next step was the most breath-taking. As MD of Pfizer, you organised a Management-Buy-Out, MBO, then a term unheard off in Nigeria, to send Pfizer packing from Nigeria and installed, in 1997, in its place Neimeth International Pharmaceuticals Plc. Although no longer in the sector, I was already in the media writing two columns – Sunday and Monday. Monday was Business and Economics day; and I recollect interviewing a few people – my old customers still in business – about the prospects of Neimeth. Nobody gave the company a chance. One distributor at Head Bridge Market, Onitsha, said “In six months he will be writing applications for job as salesman.” Nobody gave you a chance. It is a testimony to your tenacity, determination and outstanding leadership qualities that Neimeth exists till today. Nigeria needs that sort of person at Aso Rock.
However, I hope what follows will not offend you. But, you need supporters who will tell you the truth. At any rate, this is my first article on your bid for president. God willing, we will meet to talk privately. So, here are two quick points to bear in mind. One, Nigerians don’t vote for the best candidate. The man who pronounced Awolowo “the best President we never had” voted Shagari in 1983 and was glad he did. So, don’t expect that “goodness” alone will get you there. You need more. Two, I should have offered to join your campaign immediately. But, I am on record for supporting Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. My hands are tied until she categorically drops out of the race.
Finally, at least for now, let me disclose to you that you have a competitive advantage over all contestants – including money bags – which can work in your favour and which we can discuss within the context of Igbo Presidency 2023..
To be continued…
LETTER TO PROF OBIOZOR – 2
Two days after I had sent part one of the LETTER TO PROF, my old friend Sam Ohuabumwa tossed his hat into the presidential contest ring. His announcement was divinely timed because it fits right into the text of the second part; that is “where are the Igbo candidates?” Now we have one. Sam is at least a perfect gentleman – if ever there is one. I will sleep better with him in Aso Rock than most of the Igbo former Governors and Ministers.
THE SEARCH FOR CREDIBLE CANDIDATES
“Where is the Igbo candidate?” That is the question I am confronted with all the time. My reply is always the same. “Let us start first with the national consensus to give Igbo people a fair deal in Nigerian politics; then all of us can search for the person to lead us.”
However, in order not to give the impression that I don’t have a clue, a few names have been proposed in the last year. I will repeat their names and add two more. But, before listing the names, permit me to explain how someone, in my opinion, becomes eligible to be a Nigerian President. Back in 1968/70, like most MBA students in Boston, Frederick Drucker, the management guru and prolific writer, was our idol. Drucker, it was who had made a point in one of his books about calling somebody a “good worker”. He had asked: “good for what?” Then, he had followed that question by saying that a man/woman is only good if he can solve any of the problems he confronts in office. Consequently, when in search of a President, we must first of all define the most important problems we want managed and then determine which candidates can help us most. That we like the man or woman should not be our primary reason if we love Nigeria.
That said, I strongly believe that in 2023 this country will face two primary problems – a heavily debt-burdened economy, more serious food scarcity and heightened insecurity. The three, incidentally are closely-linked. Joblessness, corruption, decayed infrastructure, declining health and education are also major contenders. So is having a leader who has served all Nigerians in need without discrimination. High level experience and demonstrated capacity for problem-solving are also important.
These were the considerations which led to my belief that the following Nigerians will make good Presidents: Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Mr Tony Elumelu, Mr Onyema of Air Peace, Dr Ogbonaya Onu, Pat Utomi, Moghalu and Mr Peter Obi. Certainly other contenders will emerge as soon as possible and I think one of top priorities of your Presidency of Ohaneze is not only to help identify potentially acceptable candidates; but to encourage them to come out now. Contrary to opinion offered by a Yoruba politician, and someone I respect a great deal, it is not too soon to start. On the contrary, for Igbo candidates, I think it is a bit late – given the size of Nigeria and the difficulties ahead.
Prof, you should also advise each candidate to assemble a national campaign team – not just Igbo followers. They cannot go round paying mandatory courtesy calls on first class traditional rulers with only Igbos in their delegation. In that respect Lagos State and the Federal Capital Territory are key hunting grounds for campaign workers for two reasons. One, Lagos has the largest votes and all the ethnic groups are here. Abuja is next to Lagos in terms of ethnic groups’ representation. The two together dominate the national media almost totally. They must all establish their campaign offices there in addition to others.
You might not realise it, Prof, but I can help the candidates with Lagos.
The most important thing is for each candidate to cultivate his/her own supporters nationwide; get them committed to the Igbo President 2023 Agenda and hold them irrespective of who emerges as candidate. Sam would understand what I am talking about. In Marketing, it is called “Collaborative Competition”. Under this sort of rivalry, the contestants unanimously agree on one objective – Igbo Presidency – and each would mobilise support for that objective first and foremost and works for it as if he is already the chosen one. Who emerges as candidate becomes secondary. Furthermore, this approach to rivalry will minimise the negative campaign which characterises all contests for office in Igboland. Everybody will be enjoined not to break ranks and work against the Igbo Agenda if they fail to clinch the ticket. The interest of the people must be paramount. Let God decide who will emerge.
Prof, as Sir Winston Churchill, 1874-1965, said, “This is not the end [of conversation with you]. It is not even the beginning of the end. But, it is perhaps the end of the beginning.” As they say in Warri, “Body go jam.”
To be continued..
TRUMP DISAPPOINTED ME ONCE AGAIN
“The brave die once…”
Let me confess that I was wrong on Donald Trump when in December the idea occurred to me that he might commit suicide instead of allowing himself to be disgraced out of the White House.
In the December article, I had made the following predictions. First, Trump would lose all the cases filed on his behalf to over-turn the US Presidential Elections. Second, he still would not and never accept the fact that he lost. He hates losers; and now he is a global loser. Third, he would try to create sufficient civil unrest as to justify his declaration of Emergency or Martial rule. Fourth, he will not attend Biden’s inauguration ; because that will amount to admitting that he lost. That is something his deranged mind will never accept. Finally, faced with a shameful exit from office, he might kill himself.
He did everything else – except have the guts to commit suicide. He prefers to die in instalments. A shameless draft-dodger, he was always a coward. He has demonstrated it once again.