The Peter Obi factor is an emerging phenomenon which cannot be wished away as we count down to the 2023 general elections. This factor has altered the already existing political equation thus is one which will substantially shape the outcome of the coming elections. It is an uncommon movement beyond the comprehension and control of those involved including Obi himself.
This is a divine journey to take Nigeria back from the political shacks, shackles of poverty, underdevelopment and misery. A man some of the mainstream political system and class once made a public caricature of having no structure is now a political behemoth threatening the political stronghold of the old order. You may deride Obi, ignore him, hate him and brand him social media president to your own peril. The organic love Nigerians have shown the man is unprecedented. There is definitely none like it. Such fondness for a politician cutting across geopolitical zones and ethnic nationalities has not been seen lately in the political history of Nigeria. It was an affection clearly built on Obi’s track records of integrity, frugality, simplicity, excellent character, capacity and competence.
His political agenda is unique and answers most of the questions to our pre and post independence cultural, religious, economic and political afflictions. Nigerians have interrogated the difference between his aspiration and that of others. Unlike most politicians among whom are standing for the 2023 elections, the emergence of Obi offers hope. His brand of politics is the opposite of what is previously obtainable and hawked around by other contestants.
Peter Obi had an unblemished stewardship as a former governor and a flawless career as board chairman of many corporate bodies and conglomerates. Suffice it to say that, one other major feather in his political cap is his incorruptible nature in and out of government. If his opponents had found any iota of sleaze or malfeasance during his tenure and other corporate engagements, they would have swiftly gone to town with gory tales, videos and pictures of his misdeeds.
Mudslinging is what is obtainable in the contextual murky waters of Nigerian politics. This has endeared him to his supporters and Nigerians at large who he promised a working and productive nation. He has told Nigerians in clear terms that he and Datti will be easily accessible and should be held responsible and accountable for whatever decisions taken by his government. His government offers to reduce the high cost of governance which is overdue.
The lingering problem of insecurity will be addressed using the vast arable land in the north to create wealth and employment through agriculture. Improvement of the conditions of our health and education sectors, plugging of leakages and curbing corruption among others top the agenda of his government. He has already identified those engaging in oil theft thus will deal with them accordingly. Our common wealth majorly appropriated by the political elites will be evenly distributed to both the rich and poor. Obi encapsulates politics of ideas and proffers practical solutions to societal problems.
He is data driven and most statistics he had reeled out regarding his plans for Nigeria, failures in governance and the ugly situation we have found ourselves were undoubtedly accurate. Nigerians now know through Obi that politics can be played in Nigeria with decorum and without necessarily being corrupt. The era of money politics and fake promises is no longer in the front burner. Obi-dient movement has halted the politics of stomach infrastructure and raised it to the bar of issue driven campaigns.
Many of these politicians standing for elections have one corruption case or another hanging on their necks. Some have had one or two days of grilling for corrupt cases with the anti-graft agencies. In fact, the genesis of our unending national woes and international disgrace are traceable to some of them. While some politicians have deliberately avoided talking to Nigeria on account of their emptiness, Peter Obi as an applicant for the Nigerian top job has promised to attend every interview invite.
Politicians of the old order who had won elections on the premise of cajoling the electorate with packets of salt and fresh pepper as they always shamelessly do are now skeptical of doing the same as they are no longer sure if their antics would fly. Obi has demystified the so-called political brinkmanship and forces of perennial presidential aspirants. The old trajectory of Nigerian politics designed by the ‘owners of Nigeria’ and the cabals to feast and deprive many of development has changed and it has to remain so.
It is now evident that money politics, flexing of raw power, election rigging, thuggery and pressure on the electoral umpire and security agencies to do the biddings of some powerful candidates can no longer work. People are ready to vote, protect their votes and ensure they count as well. The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, is commended for major steps so far taken to ensure free, fair and credible polls. The electoral umpire is equally advised to remain resolute and committed to a free and transparent electoral process anchored on the Electoral Act, 2022 as amended and powered by Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS).
Many old and the young people alike are confident and implicitly trust in Obi as the one who can drive the project of taking back Nigeria from a gluttonous consuming nation to a productive one. It has to be stated that Peter Obi is not a saint and we are not looking for one to rule Nigeria. However, from the lot so far asking for our votes, he is the man to beat. While the candidates of the other two major political parties are busy trading blames and fighting dirty, nobody could rope Obi with any sin. Everyone no doubt is watching with keen interest the ensuing brickbat and prime revelation.
Nigerians have been taken for granted by the ruling class for too long. The coming election is a vehicle to effect the needed change or we perish with our indiscretions. The Obi-Datti Movement has opened the eyes and minds of many people to the awful level poverty and unemployment has been raised and deliberately weaponised to serve the political interest of the elites.
They visit the people at the peak of political campaigns to serve peanuts and bogus promises, win elections only to vanish and resurface after four years with the same old fairy-tales. Nigerians have woken to the existing political and economic bondage and hostage taking going on in their country for many years even before the current kidnapping spree and banditry emerged.
The man Peter Obi is an enigma. It is a paradox that someone who obviously offers no political inducement (we no dey give shishi) still have the popular support of the people faithfully spending their personal money, committing time and enormous energy for his campaign, erecting billboards for him free of charge, sensitising market women, distributing free party insignias, donating to the needy in his name, attending rallies without financial inducement and continues to mobilize citizens for his eventual victory at the polls.
Obi has set the agenda for the 2023 elections and beyond while others trail behind. It is not going to be political business as usual going forward. I conclude this piece with the position of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in his recent letter titled, “My Appeal to all Nigerians, particularly young Nigerians.” He said, “none of the contestants is a saint but when one compares their character, antecedent, their understanding, knowledge, discipline and vitality that they can bring to bear and the great efforts required to stay focused on the job particularly looking at where the country is today and with the experience on the job that I personally had, Peter Obi as a mentee has an edge. Others like all of us have what they can contribute to the new dispensation to liberation, restoration and salvaging of Nigeria collectively.
One other important point to make about Peter is that he is a needle with thread attached to it from North and South and he may not get lost. In other words, he has people who can pull his ears, if and when necessary. Needless to say that he has a young and able running mate with a clean track record of achievement both in public and private life.” It is our choice and right to vote for any candidate of our dreams but the consequences of our actions do not differentiate between party, religious or ethnic, social affiliations. Now, Nigerian people have decided to take back their country. The right time is now. Vote wisely!
Eze, a media and development communication specialist, writes from Kaduna via [email protected], 08060901201