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Why calumny campaign against Obiano will fail

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WHAT struck me most about the last presidential election in Nigeria was the absence of rhetoric. It felt as keen as an aircraft tearing through turbulence. Everyone noticed it.

There were no sound bites, no earth-shifting essays, no mind-bending articles nudging us inexorably to a prefigured decision. And I do not know whether it is because both candidates were Fulani and of the same faith. But what I do know is that the PDP campaign machinery failed to raise any plausible argument. It is something that could be described within the political context as a lack of rhetoric.

I had expected to hear a good argument. I had anticipated the kind of agenda-setting, persuasive commentary that would make it a compelling moral burden on Nigerians to vote the PDP candidate. I had looked forward to something that could be termed a classic; the kind of untouchable polemics that Chukwuma Soludo put up in his two-part article in 2015 that took the wind out of the sail of Goodluck Jonathan’s second term bid. But alas, the PDP media machinery had lost its tongue. If it said anything at all, it never rose beyond the common pale. The entire campaign was colourless. It left nothing in our collective memories. But no matter how bitter we feel about it, “The Next Level” slogan left Nigerians with something to remember about the last presidential election. And it didn’t come from the party that wanted power by any means necessary.

And now, they are regrouping in Anambra State. The same people who could not spark up any meaningful conversation in national politics have come home armed with a tinder box and a gallon of fuel to set Anambra ablaze. The people who lost their tongues when it mattered most have suddenly found utterance at home. They have recruited some youths and directed them to drag the governor of Anambra State and his family in the mud. Will they succeed? We shall see!

In the past two weeks, they have been splashing mud and grime all over the place, trying so hard to create the impression that a governor who had set a historic electoral record; winning 21 local government areas out of 21 local government areas in a highly enlightened state does not have any achievement to his name in five years. They are making frantic efforts to convince Ndi Anambra that a governor in whose tender care a group of five schools girls had placed black Africa on the world technovation map with a Gold Medal has not invested anything in education. They insist that the first governor in Nigeria to ever turn his state from being a security nightmare to the safest state in the country has been sleeping his tenure away. They argue that the big industrial farms in Anaka, Igbariam, Anaku and Ufuma do not exist and that the landmark flyovers in the Awka capital territory count for absolutely nothing. These same people have turned a blind eye to the longest bridge in the South East, the Iyiora Bridge and the fast rising International Conference Centre, Awka. They blindly believe that the people have forgotten the salary increase in the midst of recession, the bottom-up revolutionary development model known as the Community Choose Your Project Initiative, the impressive network of roads crisscrossing the entire state and of course, the light-up Anambra campaign that has changed the face of the state.

But they lied! They lied with clenched teeth. And that is why the smear campaign on Obiano has failed. It failed long before it even started. It failed because we all know that their plan is to start early to discredit Obiano’s administration so that before the next gubernatorial election, they would have whittled down his influence to a point where he cannot comfortably choose his successor. They had tried the same strategy in the past and it failed. They had opened up a smear campaign against him days after he had marked his First 100 Days in Office and had left no one in doubt that Anambra would be a better state under his watch. They had sustained that attack for four long years, and not even his public apology at the burial of Father Tagbo in Onitsha would placate them. They had gone ahead to swear by their blood that Obiano would not get a second term in office. But their campaign of bitterness and mindless vendetta had ended in shame. They lost their very polling booth!

Now, they are on the March again. But sadly, while their mission remains the same, the goalposts have shifted. Obiano has since raised the stakes with a far more stellar performance. Let’s wait and see!

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