This article is part of our #FirstWord series to provide context on trending news.
After much speculation, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the PDP presidential flagbearer, picked Peter Obi as his running mate for the February 2019 general election.
On 12th October 2018, the two-term Governor of Anambra State emerged following suggested considerations among other candidates like: Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, one time CBN Governor, Prof. Charles Soludo, Former Minister of Agriculture, Akinwumi Adesina, and ex-Managing Director of Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), Chike Obi.
What do we know about Peter Obi?
Peter Onwubuasi Obi came to prominence in Nigeria’s political scene in 2003 when he contested for the Anambra State Governor’s seat under the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), against Chris Ngige of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Before then Peter Obi held various business-oriented positions. He was the Chairperson at Fidelity Bank, Future Views Securities, Paymaster Nigeria, and Next International. He was also Director at Emerging Capital and Card Centre, Charms Nigeria and Guardian express bank.
When Obi embraced politics in 2003, Chris Ngige, who he contested against was declared the winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Refusing to accept the outcome of the election, he challenged the result in court and in 2006 Chris Ngige’s victory was overturned by the Court of Appeal. Peter Obi resumed March 16th, 2006 as the Anambra State governor.
7 months into office, he was impeached by lawmakers of the State House of Assembly over allegations of gross misconduct. However, he challenged the impeachment and was reinstated as the Governor on February 9, 2007, by the court of appeal in Enugu. Later, it was found that Peter Obi was impeached because he refused to inflate the state’s budget.
Again, Obi’s political journey in Anambra State went south on May 29, 2007, following a general election that declared Andy Uba winner. Peter Obi in his usual fashion went to court once more, and in June 2007, the Supreme court returned Obi to office. He contested for a second term in 2010, defeating Charles Soludo, ex CBN Governor, and went ahead to govern Anambra State for another four years.
Despite the repeated challenges to his term in office., he was known for some positives in Anambra’s education sector.
Under his watch, schools across the state received facilities school buses, cash sums for creating school testing rooms and computers. While these contributions seem small, his tenure saw academic improvement. WAEC exams, for example, recorded a 68% success rate and was even certified as the best state by the examination body.
Peter Obi was also popular for reconstructing worn out access roads and bridges in the state. On March 17, 2014, he served out his second term and was succeeded by Willie Obiano.
Obi and the economy
Peter Obi is also quite famous within Nigeria’s economic and business space. He served as the honorary special adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Finance till May 2015 and was a member of the Presidential Economic Management Team.
He was also the former Chairman of the Board of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). At the moment, he is still a member of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) and the Nigerian Chartered Institute of Bankers.
There have been arguments that Peter Obi’s rich economic and business background will reposition Nigeria’s economy around come 2019 (if elected). Even Alhaji Atiku Abubakar confessed that part of why he was chosen as the running mate was because of his strong footprint in business and the economy.
While some Southeast members of the PDP are not happy about not being consulted before he was chosen, choosing him is a strong move for the South-East in Nigerian politics.