By Akinleye Segun
The age-long clamour for a third force to finally burst the bubble of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the two major culprits of Nigeria’s modern woes, has once again gathered momentum as the country prepares for another election cycle. For once in a national election since the return of demo-crazy – oops! – democracy in 1999, the umbrella and the broom will have another major contender in 2023, the Obi-dient labourers.
Peter Obi, a two-term governor of Anambra State and a former vice-presidential candidate of the PDP at the 2019 elections, is building an online battalion ahead of the 2023 elections. His massive appeal to the youths led to a one-million march across states in Nigeria in support of his presidential ambition. This ‘organic support’, as his followers have termed the cult-like backing he has enjoyed from the youths and his fear of losing out on the PDP’s ticket, which many described as a ‘bazaar’, emboldened him in abandoning ship with the party and moving to the Labour Party. Becoming a Labourer and winning its presidential ticket didn’t eventually come as a surprise. It is Peter Obi, after all, the man of the moment and the darling of the youth.
The fever has spread beyond social media, though not without taking with it some celebrities. Peter Okoye (Mr P), Frank Donga and some key social media influencers have joined the ‘organic’ camp of the ‘conjurer of data/statistics’ with the message that only ‘Peter Obi can restore the lost glory of Nigeria’. Two days ago, Bashorun Dele Momodu, another aspirant at the just concluded PDP primaries, felt what it means to speak against the ‘anointed candidate’ of the youth. A video of him on a TV programme where he downplayed the chances of Peter Obi emerging the president of Nigeria surfaced. Guess what happened? Like bees whose hive was attacked, his ardent supporters rushed out with sticks, stones, machetes and whatever they could lay their hands on. No one speaks ill of our man was the message. In his characteristic manner, Bashorun is not one to shy away from a fight, especially not from people who are yet to understand the dynamics of the Nigerian political sphere.
Winning elections in Nigeria, especially a presidential one, requires more than just a vociferous online army. It requires funding, grassroots mobilisation, voters willing to turn up on election day and exercise their civic rights, reality and not idealism and above all, understanding the ‘Nigerian factor’.
With respect to him, Obi has been harping on what needs to be done to restore the bastardised economy of the country – one of the major issues that will form the discussion ahead of 2023. Unlike the general who, seven years ago, promised to make the dollar and naira mates, Obi has been going about his message of ‘creation and not consumption’. However, how much this sinks in, only time will tell.
For now, let us enjoy the Obi-dient labourers while we wait with bated breath for the outcome of the APC primary.