Former president Olusegun Obasanjo has thrown his full weight behind the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, saying he is his mentee and the man best suited for the top job, when compared with other contenders in 2023.
Mr Obasanjo, in his new year address to Nigerians, admitted that although none of the candidates were saints, Mr Obi was the least evil on the parameters of character, discipline and vitality which are needed in running a nation as complex as Nigeria.
Having mentored Mr Obi, the former president vouched for his character and willingness to accept criticisms to lead Nigeria progressively.
“None of the contestants is a saint but when one compares their character, antecedent, their understanding, knowledge, discipline, and vitality that they can bring to bear and the great efforts required to stay focused on the job, particularly looking at where the country is today and with the experience on the job that I personally had, Peter Obi as a mentee has an edge,” the former president asserted in the statement made available by his media aide, Kehinde Akinyemi on New Year’s day.
Mr Obasanjo suggested the other candidates can “collectively contribute” to the nation’s progress but singled out Mr Obi as his preferred candidate.
“Others like all of us have what they can collectively contribute to the new dispensation to liberation, restoration, and salvaging of Nigeria.”
In his assessment of the Labour Party candidate, Mr Obasanjo noted Mr Obi who had links to both North and South, could be trusted not to lose himself if he becomes president.
“One other important point to make about Peter is that he is a needle with thread attached to it from North and South and he may not get lost.
Mr Obasanjo also implied Mr Obi was teachable and could easily be cautioned when he errs in the course of duty.
“In other words, he has people who can pull his ears, if and when necessary. He has a young and able running mate with a clean track record of achievement both in public and private life.”
It remains unclear whether Mr Obasanjo’s open endorsement of Peter Obi would translate into votes at the February polls.
Mr Obasanjo resigned acrimoniously from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), under which he won the elections in 1999 and 2003, in 2015 to back incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari. He however turned against Mr Buhari in his 2019 re-election bid. The latter won albeit, defeating Mr Obasanjo’s preference Atiku Abubakar.
Though Mr Abubakar is standing for elections again this year, Mr Obasanjo holds that time is against his former deputy.