As 2019 general election draws closer in Nigeria, the historic visit to Kaduna by People’s Trust Presidential candidate, Gbenga Olawepo Hashim brings to the fore that the sweetness of a home base is critical to the success of candidates in national politics.
Although the visit to Kaduna had not in an way signified that the pan Northern socio – cultural organization, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) endorsed the candidature of Mr. Gbenga Olawepo Hashim of the People’s Trust ( PT) come 2019 elections, the visit has undoubtedly confirmed to the public that the Kebbi state born Hashim is the political bridge Nigerians are eagerly waiting for a genuine and credible leadership in 2019 and beyond.
Chieftains of the ACF who received Mr. Olawepo Hashim at the headquarters of the organization in Kaduna, reiterated that ACF is apolitical and a non-partisan body and said ACF would however support the emergence of a credible presidential candidate that will promote peace, unity and development of Nigeria in the 2019 elections.
The northern leaders who received Hashim and other members of the PT at the ACF secretariat in Kaduna, explained that already they have concluded plans to sensitize Nigerians in an enlightenment campaign to educate them on the choice of a credible President for the 2019 general election.
Keen observers of political development might have concluded that Olawepo Hashim is that credible candidate for the number one seat in 2019.
The PT led by renowned lawyer and human rights crusader, Mr. Olisa Agbakoba and Abduljalil Tafawa Balewa had strove to become distinct among other contenders in recent times. For instance, verifiable facts from the Nigerian election body indicated that PT was ahead of over 28 political parties in Nigeria.
The facts among the electorate had shown that 70 per cent of Nigerians would love to vote for a new credible alternative. While it’s just about 60 days to the general election, checks among the new political parties indicated that People’s Trust is the biggest. For instance, when the nomination for the National Assembly election was done, among the 28 newly-registered political parties, Peoples Trust had the highest number of nominations.
It is on record that PT was nominated for about 194 constituencies, whereas a party like ANN that nominated for only 21 constituencies. A party like Ezekwesili’s party nominated for only 50 constituencies; Moghalu’s party, YPP, nominated for about 70 constituencies.
A summation of the number of nominations of most of these new political parties revealed they are not up to that of PT. This made PT the biggest and a recent vox pop showed that Nigerians already know which is the biggest among the newly-registered parties.
Similarly, in terms of online engagement, the PT candidate has overtaken President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and his counterpart in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar.
The weekly Facebook rating of presidential candidates in Nigeria has definitely came with a major upset as Olawepo-Hashim of People’s Trust had overtaken the duo.
In a recent data released in Abuja, Olawepo-Hashim recorded Facebook engagements of 28,000+ while Abubakar had 24,000+. President Muhammadu Buhari and candidate of the All Progressive Congress recorded 16,000+ engagements. Kingsley Moghalu, Fela Durotoye and the other presidential candidates were trailing far below with single digit ratings.
Last week data saw the PT’s candidate overtake President Buhari. Abubakar was trailing President Buhari two weeks ago but had displaced the President in last week’s data with Olawepo-Hashim in hot pursuit.
Speaking in an interview, Olawepo Hashim said his decision to vie for the Presidency was because of passion he has for the country. According to him, “I have a passion for this country and the passion has been noticeable since I was a young man. While in school, I was one of the students’ union leaders that fought for democracy. We have always believed that this country can be better than what it is now. We paid a price for that. I was detained under Decree 2 in those days. I was 1989 Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience at the same time that Dr. Nelson Mandela was a Prisoner of Conscience in South Africa. It was my passion for Nigeria that was at display at that time, not because we were expecting that we are going to be politicians.
“It was even very dangerous as of that time, some of our colleagues actually died in the process of that struggle. So, what I am doing is a self-imposed duty that started about three decades ago. I understand how the modern international political economy operates and I know that we can drive all the forces of progress to make Nigeria a prosperous country. I also understand Nigeria. As one who has done business successfully in infrastructure, oil and gas, public affairs and engineering for 27 years, I will be able to steer Nigeria’s economy towards accelerated growth. I will also unite Nigeria and secure the country. That is why I am running.”
Olawepo Hashim had told ACF that he is in the race to unite the north, bring it back on track and create wealth, as a reputable businessman in the country.
He said “I want the North to come back to it olden days of glory, of ground nut Pyramid during Sardauna when the North was one entity.”
One thing Nigerians are yearning for is the return of the North and Nigeria to the good old days.
In 2019 if given the chance to occupy the number one seat in Nigeria, Olawepo Hashim is poised to bring that change.
Hassan wrote this piece from Abuja.