This week, Nigeria enters the home stretch in the run-up to the next general election, the first instalment of which is scheduled for February 25 at which a new President and members of the National Assembly will be elected. The Governorship and State Assembly elections are slated for March 11.
Barrister Ekene Onwuka* writes on his interactions with members of the Nigerian diaspora during his recent visit to Europe on the coming presidential polls.
Having studied trends in public opinion in Nigeria about the upcoming polls with exclusive focus on the presidential election, I needed to also have a glimpse of the thoughts of Nigerians in the diaspora on who they would consider fit and proper to pilot Nigeria out of the current quagmire that the incumbent APC government has plunged the country into these past eight years.
I therefore used my visit to Europe during the festive period to interface with Nigerians in the diaspora as well as friends of Nigeria on the upcoming polls, especially the presidential election. The discussions, which were broad and frank, were held in Germany and United Kingdom.
It’s heart-warming to note that Nigerians living outside the country are as conversant with national events as their home-based compatriots.
Nigerians in the diaspora expressed revulsion at the sickening state of affairs in Nigeria. They complained about the depressed economy, weak currency, hyper-inflation, insecurity, dysfunctional social services, disunity and monumental corruption, among others, which are railroading Nigeria towards a failed State.
Nigerians abroad believe that for the country to be rescued from the impending atrophy, it must be entrusted into the hands of a healthy, experienced, detribalized, knowledgeable, tested and trusted leader, who possesses the cerebral wherewithal and administrative competence to reverse the country’s rapid slide.
They argue that this is not the time for experiment or bandying of bogus statistics that cannot stand the rigour of verifiable test but a period for a pragmatic rescue approach that only experience, knowledge and exposure can provide.
Nigerians in the diaspora conclude that only a tested and trusted person like Atiku Abubakar can rescue Nigeria from these doldrums.
Suffice it to say that I was overwhelmed by their unanimity of views which conform with what Nigerians at home are saying that the former vice president is the man with the experience and political will to navigate the country out of its current quagmire.
In the course of the interactions, many matters surrounding the upcoming presidential election of 2023 were broached. One of such was the recent endorsement of Mr Peter Obi, the candidate of the Labour Party, by a former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
In the words of one of my respondents, Obasanjo’s antecedents show that Nigerians would not take him seriously.
Nigerians abroad believe that the former president’s endorsement letter revealed his real motive as he inadvertently cast Obi as a would-be puppet president over whom he could exercise unbridled influence.
Nigerians in the diaspora were vehement in their rejection of a candidate who would be subject to the control and manipulation of Obasanjo whose dictatorial tendency is public knowledge and who wants to relaunch himself as president behind the scene as he is obviously too restive to accept the role of a responsible statesman.
Nigerians in the diaspora are warning Nigerians to be wary of the surreptitious return of letter-writer Obasanjo to active politics which is what he is craving to do.
Nigerians abroad also expressed their views on the rambunctious attitude of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, describing it as gallery show that only shows his political immaturity and naivety.
They commended Atiku Abubakar for the mature manner he has handled the provocative railings of Wike, stating that it is the hallmark of the former vice president’s mental elevation, moral astuteness and assured competence which are fundamental prerequisites of leadership and which Atiku has eloquently demonstrated.
They urged the Nigerian people to ignore Wike who has turned himself into a circus show and brought the exalted office of governor to rank with comedy skit makers.
Nigerians in the diaspora commended the United States of America and the United Kingdom for extending invitations to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar noting that as leading democracies in the world, they are perceptive enough to know that the PDP presidential candidate is the right man for Nigeria in this desperate season.
Nigerians in the diaspora said that it is satisfied with the agenda of Atiku Abubakar, which includes providing qualitative education, restructuring to foster true federalism and stability, revitalising the economy for prosperity, ensuring safety and security of life and property, promoting unity in diversity and building social-political bridges across Nigeria.
They believe that if Atiku Abubakar follows through on its agenda, Nigeria will rise again to claim its rightful place in the Comity of Nations.
Nigerians in the diaspora are our Nation’s ambassadors. The have experienced true democracy and seen its myriad benefits and values. They are passionate to see them replicated in Nigeria. This is why they have taken up the gauntlet to cast their lot with Atiku Abubakar. They have led the way.
What are we waiting for?
** Chief Ekene Onwuka (LLB Hons, MSc) is SA, Special Duties/ Diaspora Affairs, to the Former Vice President of Nigeria 1999-2007