The appointment of Ifeanyi Ezeagu and John Ezeigbe as Peter Obi’s campaign coordinators in Sokoto and Lagos has elicited angry reactions from many Nigerians, who fear the ethnoreligious imbalance that plagues President Muhammadu Buhari’s regime is replicated in Mr Obi’s campaign council.
Mr Obi was on Wednesday excoriated by citizens, including his supporters, who faulted the appointment of Mr Ezeagu, a Christian of Igbo extraction, as the campaign coordinator of Sokoto, a region dominated by Muslims and Hausa-Fulani ethnic group.
Mr Ezeigbe was another name that drew the ire of Nigerians on the campaign list. The southern Igbo tribesman was named the coordinator of Lagos, the nation’s commercial capital, where the Yoruba ethnic group were predominant.
The majority of the 1,234 names listed in Mr Obi’s campaign team were Christians and of Igbo extraction.
Mr Buhari, the incumbent president, has been accused of partisanship in governance as his regime is dominated by Muslim northerners leaving southern Christians at the lower helm of affairs.
Using the Labour Party campaign team as a yardstick, some Nigerians have expressed fears that Mr Obi may manifest Mr Buhari’s ethnoreligious trait and favour his tribespeople should he win the 2023 presidential polls.
His supporters also asserted Mr Obi’s apparent ethnoreligious bias would cause his opponents to label his presidential ambition the “Igbo agenda,” a title that could sway voters of other ethnic groups into voting against the party.
Doyin Okupe, the newly appointed director-general of the Labour party presidential campaign, did not immediately reply to Peoples Gazette’s request seeking comments on the matter.
However, Yunusa Tanko, the Labour Party campaign chief spokesman, told The Gazette the matter would be “addressed very soon” without elaborating.
Meanwhile, loyalists of other presidential candidates said the former Anambra governor lacked the moral upstanding to criticise the All Progressives Congress Muslim-Muslim ticket since the majority of his campaign team were Christian southeasterners.
“Taking an igbo man to campaign in Sokoto and Lagos means the party has no respect for the locals. Are you saying there’s no capable Yoruba and Hausa man in Lagos and Sokoto? You’re playing into the opposition hand. They will start seeing LP as an Igbo agenda. It’s politics.”
“There is everything wrong with that please. I was in Sokoto in 1989 and I know very well you will need a local to influence the people. The DG of PO/ DA would need to review the list, please.”
“Nobody would have done Sokoto State @NgLabour ObiDatti Campaign better than a son of the soil who knows the turf. An Igbo name is a complete off and I believe @JamiluSufi and team has been doing better jobs before now. Let’s be frank.”
“Oyo state coordinator is an unknown person and Sokoto state coordinator is an indigene of Ebonyi state. Is that how to win elections.”
“It will backfire. Did they use non local people in Anambra, Enugu, etc.? It doesn’t take anything for the opposition to twist it. Are you saying they couldn’t get a local person there? If you’re talking about capacity, then the agitation about Muslim-Muslim should stop.”
“This is basic way of Naija Politics. Coordinators must come from the same region or state they are coordinating. Even APC that is sure of not winning 10% of SE appoints SE ppl as regional and state coordinator of their regions. The list must be reshuffled.”
“Something is very wrong with it. Let an indigene lead the state and ensure the ones you trusted are in the team. I don’t buy this too.”
“Come on, why creating a loophole for people to see LP as being biased? Why is a non-Yoruba person the campaign manager for Lagos State? Why shooting the party on its feet like this?”
“The Sokoto state co_ordinator should be change to a citizen of Sokoto instead of Mr Ifeanyi an Igbo man,,,it doesn’t make sense at all.”
“I hate unforced errors. Why is an Igbo name coordinating Sokoto?”