FLASHBACK: : In 2015, Buhari said endorsement by ‘highly respected’ Obasanjo ‘will bring more supporters’ to APC

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With the 2023 elections in view, former President Olusegun Obasanjo has endorsed Peter Obi, standard bearer of the Labour Party (LP) – a move that has stirred up heated debates.

In his New Year message to Nigerians, Obasanjo said the country has a “unique opportunity” to correct itself in the forthcoming elections.

“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,” he had said.

Since leaving the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and clinching the LP presidential ticket in 2022, Obi’s support base has considerably grown, propelling him to become one of the frontrunners in the race.

Many have, however, argued that Obasanjo’s support may not translate to votes for Obi to win the election.

A HISTORY OF ENDORSEMENTS

In the build-up to the 2019 polls, the former president backed former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, but the PDP candidate lost the election.

Abubakar was vice-president when Obasanjo was in office between 1999 and 2007.

In 2015, the former president endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari.

“The circumstances [Buhari] will be working under if he wins the election are different from the one he worked under before, where he was both the executive and the legislature – he knows that,” Obasanjo had said.

“It’s a question of leadership – political and military. He’s smart enough. He’s educated enough. He’s experienced enough. Why shouldn’t I support him?”

Speaking with CNN in 2015 after Obasanjo endorsed him, Buhari said the former president is well respected and that the endorsement would bring more supporters to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

“It will certainly bring more supporters to us and more confidence to those who were sitting on the fence because general Obasanjo is highly respected,” Buhari had said.

“And as far as the Nigerian nation is concerned, there is no serious issue that can be discussed without people seeking his opinion and listening to it.”

2022: APC, PDP DISMISS OBASANJO’S ENDORSEMENT

Fast forward to 2023, and the leading parties — the APC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) — have dismissed the endorsement of the former president for Obi.

Despite the fact that Buhari once welcomed the support of Obasanjo for the APC, the party’s campaign council said the former president’s endorsement of Obi is “worthless”.

 “The endorsement is actually worthless because the former President does not possess any political goodwill or leverage anywhere in Nigeria to make anyone win a Councillorship election let alone win a Presidential election,” the APC said.

“He is a political paperweight.”

On the other hand, PDP said Obasanjo’s endorsement is his personal opinion that would not sway Nigerians.

 

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