Former Governor of Kano State and the presidential candidate of the NNPP, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, has blamed the sectional approach of rival Peter Obi, who is running on the Labour Party platform, for the breakdown in the merger proposal between both parties.
Prior to now, speculations were rife of a possible merger between Obi, who joined the Labour Party after dumping the PDP, and Kwankwaso, a stalwart politician with cult-like following in Kano State. The coalition, many reasoned, would help the fringe candidates mount a serious challenge to the dominant and better-known APC and PDP, Nigeria’s major political parties.
But no sooner than the talks emerged that it met a roadblock in the rumored refusal of both individuals to step down their ambition and serve as deputy in the pairing.
However, whilst speaking at Chatham House, the UK policy institute, Kwakwanso attributed the collapse of the coalition to Obi’s ethnocentric views and religious intolerance. He said he couldn’t “work with a party whose ideas are based on ethnicity and religion because I am a Nigerian.”
His damning accusation, which portrays Obi’s run as driven purely by ethnicity, tracks with protests from members of the Labour Party who criticised the candidate’s tribal management of the party in which members of his ethnic stock, particularly from his home state of Anambra, are given preferential treatments.
Obi has also maintained a disturbing link to the IPOB, an Igbo-secessionist group, before a recent conflict which saw the group accuse the former Anambra Governor of attempting to “use and dump” them.
Prominent supporters of Obi such as Nollywood actor, Kanayo O. Kanayo, have also urged Igbos across the country to insert themselves in the politics of states within the country to give Obi the constitutional 25% vote mark required to claim the presidency — a charge that tars the campaign as an Igbo attempt to wrestle the most senior office.
Obi’s records in Anambra featured a dangerous divisive play in which he pitted the Catholic Church, which he belongs, against the Anglican Church. The awful seed of that discord has germinated in the state, with a conflict staged every four years between the two Christian factions over the religious identity of contenders.