Oby Bows Out, Seeks To Resurrect PACT

Did you see that coming?

On Wednesday, Dr Obiageli ‘Oby’ Ezekwesili was lyrical and defiant about the ‘Fight 4 Naija’. She had enthusiastically shared an interview she granted on her plans to “disrupt the politics of bad governance and bad leadership that has produced dismal results”. An air of ease and relaxation did not suggest trouble was imminent.

By 7am Thursday, citing some misalignment with her party, the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), and other reasons, Madam Oby signed out. She will now focus on a coalition that will dislodge the APC-PDP duopoly of Nigeria’s politics.

A Strange, Awful Game

Ezekwesili has pulled out from the race barely three weeks to the elections. No formidable candidate does that, and it is not reaching to say she was as good as any of the notable ‘third-force’ candidates. Her performance at the debate did not necessarily show this but if she pushed on, she would have got as many votes as the others. What triggered the withdrawal?

Because it did not take half a day for the ACPN to announce they are now supporting President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election bid. They organised a press conference for this purpose, with Ezekwesili’s running mate Ganiyu Galadima in attendance. Here is the punch of their statement, which Galadima co-signed about Ezewkesili:

“The Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) is withdrawing support for her presidential aspiration and endorsing the second term bid of President Muhammadu Buhari to take Nigeria to the next level”

They allege Ezekwesili used them to raise money, spending without their consent. They also allege she was positioning to be Finance Minister ahead of Buhari’s second term.

Proof? Don’t Hold Your Breath

Proving this would be useful for improving how much people can trust future candidates; many Nigerians donated to Ezekwesili’s campaign in good fate. But it is easy to see why the ACPN may not bother to produce receipts, with the high  probability of fizzling after this election cycle. They are not bothered about being remembered or forgotten. However, why they would drag her through the mud is puzzling. If it is retribution for refusing to yield to their decision to support Buhari, it also aims at discrediting whatever else she does in this election cycle for another candidate.

Whatever the case, it strengthens Atiku Abubakar’s withdrawal from last week’s presidential debate. Ezekwesili’s call for the resurrection of coalition talks indeed makes that night’s affair, as derided by many, truly a PACT debate. But to their credit, Fela Durotoye and Kingsley Moghalu have expressed interest in new talks, though the latter was less explicit in agreeing to give up his candidature if he does not become the consensus candidate.

Thanks, But No Thanks

Omoyole Sowore wants to be sure of what he is getting into this time, a posture that, combined with his fisticuffs with Moghalu and Ezekwesili so far, could mean he is not interested. Other candidates like the economist Tope Fasua of ANRP seem far too suspicious of PACT’s motives to be interested. “These guys are feeling like superstars worshipping themselves. But they, none of them, are in touch with the Nigerian people. They are not even bothering to travel around the country” he said to Premium Times.

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