Obi, Baba-Ahmed seal LP’s presidential ticket
President Muhammadu Buhari’s promise to Nigerian youths came alive yesterday in Abuja, when the presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Gregory Obi, unveiled Senator Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed as his running mate for next year’s election.
Recall that President Buhari had, in 2018 while signing into law, the not-too-young-to-run bill passed by the Eighth National Assembly, enjoyed the youths to wait for the 2023 General Election to take advantage of the law, pleading that he should be allowed to round off a second term in office.
Obi’s choice of 48-year-old Baba-Ahmed came as a fulfilment of that promise. Not that alone, with the experience, expertise and political exposure of the Vice Presidential candidate, the image of former United States President, Barack Obama, was also evoked when the former representative of Kaduna North Senatorial District was unveiled.
Having regularised the LP presidential ticket, by replacing Dr. Doyin Okupe, who held the ground as a place holder, the stage is set for next year’s election to show who wins in what promises to be a battle between the old and new.
The governing All Progressives Congress (APC), which nominated Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, as its presidential standard bearer, is yet to certify its Vice Presidential contender, just as youths loyal to the party have approached the court to retain the protem candidate, Kabiru Masari, as Tinubu’s running mate.
The Guardian gathered that former Borno State governor and Senator representing Borno Central, Kashim Shettima, is enjoying favourable consideration for the APC VP slot. But, sources disclosed that incumbent state governors from the Northwest geopolitical are mounting pressures on Tinubu to settle for one of them based on the high voting numbers from the zone.
Kebbi State governor, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, who is incidentally the Chairman of Progressive Governors’ Forum, as well as his counterparts in Jigawa and Kaduna, Abubakar Badaru and Nasir El Rufai, are said to be interested in deputising the former Lagos State governor.
However, it would be seen how far the emergence of the youthful Baba-Ahmed from Kaduna might influence the consideration for El Rufai or Hon yakubu Dogara from Bauchi State in Northeast geopolitical zone.
Signs that the LP ticket of Obi and Baba-Ahmed was rattling the APC emerged, when a Lagos State chieftain of the party and Tinubu’s arch loyalist, Joe Igbokwe commented on Senator Baba-Ahmed’s choice as Obi’s running mate.
Igbokwe had posted: “It is political suicide to pick a VP candidate, who cannot deliver something as ordinary as his LGA for you in a presidential election. Anyways, everyone will wake up from the social media delusion soon.
“Kwankwaso can deliver his state and many former governors will also do well. When we criticize, we are doing so with deep understanding of Nigeria. One thing is clear now, this is nothing serious, but just a social media good feeling presidency dream.”
In his reaction, Special Assistant to Obi, Valentine Obienyem, had noted, “uncle Joe Igbokwe is thinking about the success of Mr. Peter Obi, otherwise how else do we explain this his post?
“From his post, it appears he actually prayed that Obi should choose a person that would deliver for him so that he wins the election. Does he not appear dejected that Obi made the wrong choice?
“If you are close to Uncle Joe, tell him that, ‘Obidients’ are not looking for a person that will deliver his ward, a local champion, but a person that will deliver the totality of Nigeria. Should he be patriotically concerned with the man’s ward or his pedigree and competence?
“Has it not bothered Joe that Nigerians are now looking for those that are healthy and competent to withstand the rigours of governance, while he is still stocked at the elite descriptive quip: ‘He cannot deliver his ward’, a veiled imprimatur for old, corrupt, turn-by-turn politicians.”
Obienyem contended that looking at the VP’s age, “what else shall the youth demand from such a choice? This is a clear sign of the desire to break away from the past and allow the youth take over their country.
“Have you listened to the VP speak? He is among the most perceptive and penetrating mind. Together with Obi, they will certainly represent a progressive force we need in this country. A force that will establish political stability, restore morality, protect lives and property, end banditry, reassure the people, aid industry and transform the country from consumption to production.
“So far as we know, Obi’s choice is the representative of the desire of what those clamouring for the combination of two hot and practical intellects have seen been longing for and not the roistering cry of delivering his ward.”
SPEAKING during the unveiling ceremony, which held at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, Obi declared that with Baba-Ahmed as his running mate, the “journey to Nigeria’s rebirth begins today.”
The LP presidential contender revealed, “finally, after very long and wide consultations, we in the Labour Party have found an eminently qualified Nigerian, who will be my partner as we embark on our march to a secure, united and productive Nigeria.”
Obi apologised for the postponement of the event from Thursday to Friday, even as he declared: “Today, I am proud to say I have been able to meet and secure somebody who is eminently qualified and fits the bill to be the Vice President of Nigeria.
“I know people will say you are not there yet, but I can tell you, I know where we are going. This is our right to secure, unite and make Nigeria productive. And you can’t do that without having people who have similar visions, ideas and are prepared for the task. So, I have the honour today to present to you, God willing, Nigeria’s next Vice President in the person of Senator Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed.
While describing Senator Baba-Ahmed as “one of Nigeria’s youngest and brightest personalities, who has distinguished himself in various areas of human endeavours,” Obi assured that his running mate brings to the mission, great personal, academic and entrepreneurial strength.
He harped on Baba-Ahmed’s “impeccable credentials and added value of rich experience as an ace DMI Ian, businessman, public servant, economic and development expert, and politician; a recognised wealth creator and manager; who fits well into the mould of a transformative and adaptive leader.”
“Today, I will not dwell too much on our national challenges. Yet, I will be remiss to gloss over them completely. These are extremely difficult times for our country. Nigeria straddles the lowest rungs of the global development indices.
“We are hugely indebted and the poverty capital of the World. Nigerians are hungry and angry; and fed up with bad leadership. Times like this, does not call for politics of business as usual “
“My mission is to give full expression to our democracy by moving our country from consumption to production noting that with the completion of the Presidential team. We will in the days ahead, unveil our governance principles, priorities, and programs for turning Nigeria around, which shall be anchored on the the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” Obi stated.
The LP standard bearer assured Nigerians that with Dr Baba-Ahmed by his side, “we shall ensure that in moving Nigeria forward, no state or community will be left behind.
“Pursuant to its statutory responsibility to protect, our Government will promote the rule of law, ensure that governance is inclusive, cost- effective, transformative, less transactional; and national investment s regenerative.”
Cannot Say No
IN his brief remarks, the VP nominee said a call to join and rescue Nigeria is one he cannot reject. Further, he explained the various considerations that encouraged him to accept the offer of running mate to LP’s presidential candidate, Peter Obi.
His words: “My task here today is simple and it is to accept my nomination, but just before I do that, I should give justifications as follows.
“The undeniable and unchallengeable fundamental reason for being on this ticket is to rescue Nigeria. And it goes logically without saying that you can only rescue that which is in trouble and Nigeria is in trouble and I cannot afford not to be part of the movement to rescue Nigeria.
“The second reason is that I believe in the greatness of Nigeria. I believe there will be peace and prosperity, and I believe Nigeria people will unite.”
Speaking on Obi’s consideration, Baba-Ahmed said Obi’s integrity and achievements in the private sector were part of what also informed his decision to join the ticket.”
Noting that “this is a high point in my life and career,” Baba-Ahmed stated: “With all trust in Almighty Allah and my belief in Nigeria and with all humility, I accept the generous nomination to be the vice-presidential candidate of the Labour party for the 2023 general election.
“Having come from the education sector and background, when I hear a valuable thing I know it and I cannot let it pass. The comment from our presidential candidate that the fertile land in the north is the crude oil of Nigeria is one.
“How much more nationalist and detribalised can you (Obi) be? I see a brighter future for Nigeria from such a comment. He is someone of integrity and
Who Is SYDBA?
SENATOR Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed is a son of Islamic teacher and immigrant from Mauritania, who settled in Zaria, Kaduna State. As one of Baba-Ahmed’s 33 children, the young entrepreneur, who founded Baze University, Abuja, holds a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) and MSc in Economics from the University of Maiduguri in Borno State.
In 2003, he left Lagos, where he was working in Nigeria Security Printing and Minting Company and was elected to represent Zaria Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives from All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).
He was elected Senator in 2011. In 2018 he contested the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential primary in Port Harcourt.