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Is Obi The Beautiful Bride In 2023 Presidential Election?

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Declare Your Assets, SERAP Tells Peter Obi

The Insight by Lateef Adewole

In continuation of the x-raying of the coming presidential election in 2023 and the candidates of the major political parties contesting for the position, which I started last week, I will be looking at another today; the presidential candidate of Labour Party, former governor Peter Obi. Many might wondered why I am discussing him next. Today, it is a fact that the “loudest” of all candidates is Peter Obi. Apart from the household names who happened to be the candidates of the other two major parties, Obi is the only other person who has attracted massive supports and followership, particularly among the youths.

Like I always say, if the election is to take place today and it will happen on social media, there is a very high chance that Obi is already our president. He will win comfortably. This has been buttressed by the online poll conducted by NOI Polls within the month, commissioned by ANAP Foundation. The result gave it to Peter Obi. He won the poll. This is because, the many young people supporting him are very active on different social media platforms. They are full of energies and often tipped over to youthful exuberance, where they overeached themselves, becoming intolerant of dissenting opinons, bullying and attacking anyone who disagrees with their opinion.

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Sadly, such tactics have never won any election. They need to do better. In fact, such behaviours can alienate others, who hitherto would have supported them, from their cause. So, there is great wisdom in being decorous and hearing other people out. That is from where one learns and increases in wisdom.

For many years, I have admired Mr. Peter Obi as a person. I have watched countless of his interviews on televisions, and other programmes where he was a guest speaker like “The Platform”. His soft-spokenness, his innocent and amiable look, win hearts. His knack for statistics and reeling out of data when analysing issues is enchanting, especially for a person like me who loves figures. Whenever I watched him doing comparative analysis of economic performances of different countries, especially China, Taiwan and the likes, relative to Nigeria, I was usually blown away.

Sincerely, he has been my “poster boy”, representative of a president of Igbo extraction that I will love to see govern Nigeria. Therefore, for so long, I was rooting for him while he was in PDP to emerge as the presidential candidate of the party. In 2019, it was a beautiful spectacle watching him debated with our erudite vice president Professor Yemi Osinbajo, who was the vice presidential candidate of APC to President Buhari then, while Peter Obi was the vice presidential candidate of PDP to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

Then, the real competition was seen as being between the duo of the vice presidential candidates. It was an interesting time. So, I was looking forward to the two of them possibly becoming the candidates of the two major parties; APC and PDP in 2023. Sadly, that was not to be. Although, in a way, Obi managed to extricate himself from PDP and joined another party on which he was able to launch his presidential aspiration. Osinbajo was not that lucky, being the sitting vice president of the ruling party and who was not ready to pull “the Atiku 2007 stunt” (lol).

Now to the crux of the matter. Who is Peter Obi? Where was he coming from? What has he done? What can he do? What are his chances at the polls come 2023? What kind of President will he be if he wins? And on and on. These and many more, are questions that many genuine citizens have asked and still asking about Peter Obi. Surely, in the next eleven days, political campaigns will kickoff fully and many Nigerians will have the opportunity to hear more about him and his programmes.

As at today, if there is any candidate who has been most visible in the media, it is Peter Obi. Nearly everything that he will possibly say during his campaigns have been said already on the television and radio interviews he has granted. Well, may be they will be more structured and better articulated in party manifestos and campaigns, instead of the off-the-cuff in the interviews.

As promising as the candidature of Obi is, one critical factor I have been concerned about, that I see as capable of affecting his chances is his political platform, the Labour Party. Actually, the party is not new to the Nigerian politics but it has remained mushroomed for many years. In the past elections, it has produced one governor in Ondo state, Olusegun Mimiko. Comrade Adams Oshiomole started on their platform, being a former Labour leader himself, when he wanted to contest for Edo governorship seat, before an alliance with the then Action Congress (AC) happened, on which platform he eventually contested and won. May be some few lawmakers at states and National assembly too.

As I write, no single elected politcal position is occupied by any member of Labour Party throughout Nigeria. The party does not even exist in some states, not to talk of local governments or wards. The supporters of Obi, branded “Obidients”, have continued to argue against the relevance of having party structures as a critical factor to win any election in Nigeria, talkless of presidential election. They have criticised many well-meaning Nigerians who are advocating that Obi and Labour Party should build structures if they really want to win. They claim it is unnecessary. And that they, the people, are the structure.

I agree that structures do not exist in a vacuum. They are built by, and on people. However, except for political naivity, it is not an unorganised people that make up structures. Imagine a presidential election that will take place across the country. There are 36 states and FCT. There are 774 local government areas. There are 8,813 wards and 176,846 polling units. Each of these polling units requires loyal and strong party mobilisers for campaigns and party agents to man them during elections. Do Obi and Labour Party have that in place? That is the essence of structures.

However, the good news is that this can be remedied but unfortunately, it is not approached strategically and given needed attention. Since the various workers’ unions, under the umbrella body of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), have decided to identify with the party and adopted it and its candidate as theirs, that is a structure. But, it must be conscientiously built and oiled to make it function to deliver the results at the polls. Elections are not “aluta” and protests. It must be approached in calculative manner.

If NLC and all the labour unions under them and with them, can make all their branches across the country active and buy into the project, these will mobilise to the local government level and cascade down to the wards and polling units. There is rarely any polling unit we do not have workers. They need to be found, woed, and convinced to work for the party and the candidate. This is the hard work that I often talked about. The lazy route is to live on the assumptions that these people will automatically support and work for the party. That will amount to political hara-kiri.

As the campaigns start, the candidate Peter Obi and the people who will be speaking for him need to fine-tune their information, cross-check their statistics and data before reeling them out. For years, Obi has “gone away with murder” in the statistics he usually dished out, for which many, including me, used to be mesmerised, until now when he entered the ring. These are now being fact-checked constantly and we have found out that many of them are actually inaccurate. They need to do better. Now, telling lies won’t win elections.

Again, the simplicity and casual lifestyle of Obi depict someone who is not corrupt. While in government as governor of Anambra State, he was praised for being prudent. In many of his interviews, he often narrated how he curbed corruption and wastages in the state. Although, his critics often disagreed with his claims but I was always fascinated by them. For example, reducing the wasteful entourage that accompany political office holders at all times whenever they go out. He claimed he reduced his convoy from 20 cars to 5 cars.

This resulted in savings in fuel costs, personnel costs, maintenance and repairs, and replacement costs. He even boasted that a driver won’t buy fuel into the car without him sitting inside it. The cars removed were also made useful by giving them to MDAs where they were truly needed. He travels light without the encumbrance of multitude of aides. He flies economy even as a governor. He carries his own luggages. He sold off the Anambra Government house in Lagos and used the proceed to better the state.

He reduced the number of staff in the one he retained in Abuja and transferred all the excess staff back to Awka to be dutifully engaged instead of loafing around doing next to nothing in Abuja at the expense of the state. He sleeps in not too luxurious rooms in hotels, both home and abroad. He instructed that foods for only him and his wife should be cooked instead of the usual wasteful excessively surplus buffet we regularly see in government houses. So many other means by which he curbed corruption as stated by him.

Good as these may be, his opponents claimed many of these things he said were not completely true. Also, it is believed that he did not institutionalised such corruption fight and it is tokenism.

I had interaction with some “Obidient” youths and ask them why they are supporting him and think he is their “saviour”. I was disappointed because many do not really have anything to say. They don’t even know real reason they are Obidients beyond the herd mentality. Because this is what many youths are saying, so they join the bandwagon. There are some who said because they want youth as president. I just laughed. In Nigeria, anything goes sha. Afterall, a 60 year old man was once the “youth leader” of a major political party. Obi is 61. His is not a youth, though, younger than the candidates of the other major parties.

Some others say he is not corrupt. I am not in position to decide who is corrupt or not. No matter the allegations against anybody, they are innocent until proven guilty. Investing state money in family business, Pandora papers revelations, 250 million naira money laundry and similar allegations, remain so until proven and he is found guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction. But is he is a reasonably decent man.

Some said they are supporting him because they are tired of APC and PDP, which they accused of being responsible for the country’s woes. So to them, Obi is a “fresh breath”. That was when I gave up on discussing further. Mr. Peter Obi has been part and parcel of the “establishment” since 2006. He was in APGA for 8 years as governor of Anambra State and decamped to PDP since 2014. He was Economic Adviser to President Jonathan, who also appointed him as the Chairman of the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 2015.

He was also the vice presidential candidate of PDP in 2019 and was there till May this year where he wanted to contest for the ticket before he left when he realised how slim his chance was. I usually asked Obidients what they would have been saying now about PDP if Obi had been the party’s presidential candidate? I hardly get answers to that.

While Obi is often advised to call his Obidients to order for their rabid behaviours, I was disappointed to find him doing precisely what his followers are notorious for. He was seen recently in a viral video discussing another candidate and his tribe. Such lowness can be overlooked for his irredentist followers but not the man himself. The video was so divisive, disgusting and disrespecting to the Yorubas. Such a behaviour is unexpected of a man who wants to lead a unified country. That gave credence to people who refer to him as Igbo or IPOB / Biafra president. Well, many ipobians and Biafrans are known to form the core of his support base. It is not totally strange.

When it is time for real elections, surely, Peter Obi will do well in his South East where he comes from and reasonably in South South. He will get clusters of votes from other regions especially where there are good concentrations of Igbos like in Lagos. As we move up north, his chance reduces. Overall in a real voting, I can’t see the structure that will deliver those votes he needs to become Nigeria’s president. This is the truth that his supporters do not want to hear, but time will tell.

People do ask what are his legacies in Anambra State as a governor? Who are his mentees? Where are the people who worked with him then and where are they now, politically or otherwise? None or not many. He might be someone who likes to shine alone as could be seen in his interviews. Unfortunately, that will be the end of his success story if so. That might explains why he has no political footsoldiers and he has never won any competitive election by himself or by supporting anyone, apart from his successor, Willie Obiano, while in APGA, both riding on the late Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu’s reverence by the Igbos and his influence in Igboland. The two former governors parted ways shortly after the election of Obiano.

A presidential election is beyond noise. It requires political dexterity, negotiation, compromises, building bridges, reaching out to other regions, and tribes. It cannot be won with the “Nzogbu Nzogbu tactics” (as stated by a senior Obidient in his advisory video to fellow Obidients that has gone viral). Bullying, attacking and threatening others who do not agree with them or not support Obi, is no a strategy. It will backfire.

In another clime, like where online votes translate to actual political success, Peter Obi could be celebrating but not so in Nigeria. Not until now or may be 2019, when he was vice presidential candidate to Atiku, many voters did not even know who he was. So, there is more work to be done in order to achieve success in 2023. Historically, online poll results as released by NOI and ANAP Foundation on Thursday, have consistently been wrong in Nigeria. 2015 and 2019 were examples. Buhari was never given a chance. So, no one should be deceived to lower their guards. Peter Obi and Labour Party should continue to work hard to win their elections in 2023. I can only wish him all the best as campaigns start in some days time.

May God continue to protect us and guide us aright.

God Bless Nigeria.

You can follow me on:
Twitter: @lateef_adewole
Facebook: Lateef Adewole
Email: lateefadewole23@gmail.com
Whatsapp: +2348179512401

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