The advent of Peter Obi into the Nigerian political arena as a presidential candidate has galvanised interest from a group of erstwhile politically comatose group of youths who were once subdued by political apathy, brought about by the way in which the country in all sectors has been run aground. Suddenly, there is an awakening and an awareness never experienced before amongst this demographic.
The last time an election elicited or generated such furore or so much interest from those outside mainstream participants was in the United States.
The last such election was the US elections that ushered in Barack Obama. Obama was a political wild card that stood no chance because his political experience was as a young senator. His colour or race was considered a millstone, so he was patronised and ignored by political heavy weights.
Republican opponents preferred to go against him because they assumed he would be a walkover. He ended up serving two terms and breaking a political taboo of been the first black man in the White House.
Peter Obi is a breath of political fresh air just like Obama was in 2008 US elections. Both their presence has inspired a much forgotten, marginalised maligned and oppressed group of people. In America, it was youths and ethnic minorities.
In Nigeria it’s the youths, the unemployed, the politically irrelevant, those short-changed by the present ruling class and those hitherto apathetic towards politics. For those of us who in our convoluted, contrived, conceited closet tribalists and religious bigots that oppose Obi because he is from the Southeast, hear this, ‘you’re missing his message’.
Obi’s message echoes Obama’s message while he too was campaigning which is, “It’s no longer business as usual”. Albert Einstein said, “insanity is doing something in the same way and expecting a different outcome”. Nigeria can no longer afford to play politics with Ghana must go bags full of dollar notes. Neither can Nigerians ignore the number of deaths in peace time that exceeds the number of deaths in Ukraine who are at war.
Nor can they continue to pay taxes to bandits in some Northern states. They can no longer ignore the constant free fall of the Naira since Buhari took up residence in Aso Rock. Why not you may ask? Because merit, the rule of law, decency, our security, professionalism are all sacrificed on the altars of mediocrity, religiosity, tribalism, cabalism, and the common Nigerian foots the bill and bears the consequences.
If you concur and promote the “business-as-usual agenda”, it means you are a beneficiary of the economic and political chaos and cacophony currently oozing out of Nigeria and by extension you are complicit. Yes, Peter Obi is an Ibo man but when he speaks, he speaks as a nationalist and not as a regionalist and not as a tribalist. When he speaks, he speaks hope instead of spewing pseudo encomium on the present diabolically abysmal regime.
When he speaks, he speaks to the economically burdened generation whose future has been mortgaged by a selfish, clueless, and cruel ruling class.
When Obi speaks, he speaks numerically so that we can verify his statements. When Obi speaks, out of his mouth comes forth, integrity, honour, devotion, servitude and intellectualism and transparency, qualities that are dearth in any other presidential candidate or their party members.
When Obi speaks, some of us see in him an epitome of how a leader should be and an effigy of a leader longed for but seems to exist outside the shores of Nigeria. Obi does not portray desperation nor a sense of entitlement, nor does he shout ethnic disenfranchisement, or displays a deep-rooted avarice for the people’s commonwealth.
Instead, he comes across as a man who is content with what he has and wants to simply serve and give back to his Motherland if given the chance. Obi can be described as a simpleton. No matter how lopsided one’s cognition is this cannot be said of the presidential candidates from PDP and APC. For once since 1999, Nigerians have an alternative in Peter Obi. We no longer must choose between two sides of the same coin or between the Devil and the Red Sea or Ali Baba and his minions: the forty thieves or the Broom and the Umbrella.
We can unseat the political Cabal known as corruption personified or the ruling class that have been foisted upon us by unruly, greedy self-serving, malleable, (politicians who are devoid of any moral compass) regionalist, tribalists and religious fanatics, who recycle themselves every four years with disregards for the obvious and palpable suffering of the everyday Nigerian.
Tinubu and Atiku are dinosaurs that have outlived their sell by dates and compared to Obi are Neanderthals. Both think in analogue like their other political contemporaries and have no solution for the problems of a twenty first century Nigeria that requires digital transformative solutions.
Both are in the same league as Buhari, they will end up delegating others to do that which they should do which will result in delegated, unelected staff abusing their positions and usurping power to themselves. Because they will only be presidential signatories, these persons will end up stealing and arrogating to themselves the people’s commonwealth.
Like Buhari, they will be figure heads in their own government because they will be elected based upon dollarisation, cronyism and other irrelevances to the highest office of the land but devoid of competency, ideology and well thought out economic growth plans. Tinubu brought appreciate economic development to Lagos state as a governor. His cabinet was culturally and ethnically inclusive.
No one can dispute his achievements but the Tinubu of then is not the Tinubu of today. The Tinubu of today is no longer verbally coherent, lacking energy and verve. He no longer possesses any form of ideology but brings with him the baggage of entitlement and is ravaged by such frailties that accompany one in old age. He looks frail and fragile and in office will surely spend more time flying abroad for treatment much more than Buhari. Tinubu the presidential aspirant is a shadow of Tinubu the vibrant and articulate governor Lagosians were proud off and the political king maker of the Yoruba nation.
There is a common saying that one cannot beat nature. Age has stolen Tinubu’s erstwhile irretrievable panache from him. Atiku on the other hand may appear healthy but his former boss, ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo dreads the thought of Atiku leading the nation and has alleged that Atiku is a certified, incorrigible, and irrevocably corrupt character of a man. As the vice president to Obasanjo, Atiku committed the same sin as Satan, he coveted his boss’s seat.
Atiku has not helped himself by his verbal pontifications asking if his friends are not entitled to be wealthy and his flight to Dubai only to return when he wants to contest elections. If Tinubu has achieved remarkably since his foray into politics, what has Atiku achieved apart from spearheading the sale of national assets cheaply?
His election campaigns are grossly embellished with political chicanery. Does it surprise any intelligent Nigerian that Peter Obi is the only presidential candidate that is going around addressing the nation in the most articulate and easy to understand way. His the only one pointing out problems and advocating solutions to these age long problems such as the state of insecurity, poor education, health, and our cadaver like electricity sector.
Tinubu is going around with motorcade and police escorts as if his already the president while Atiku is at large. Peter Obi speaks the language of the oppressed, the jobless and those who feel unsafe, under fed and underrepresented, displaced in the present political dispensation.
He speaks to us all because his one of us, his one of us because he lives among us. Peter Obi is not a part time Nigerian. His not like those who are Nigerians when it benefits them and at the slightest hint of trouble jet out while the common man bears the brunt of insurrection, insecurity and their children stay at home because ASUU and government are at loggerheads.
Please, think and as you do this empty yourself of tribalism, regionalism, religiosity, and partisan politics and ask yourself the following questions: Do you want to allow a leader that has no scruples about allowing his friends acquire wealth at your expense?
Do you deserve a leader who wants to be your president because he assumes, “it’s his turn”? Do you want to hand over to a man that his ex-boss has deemed unfit to lead this country? Or maybe you want to be led by a leader who will be a continuation of the ruling party whose Minister of Education spent 100million Naira on a nomination form whilst your children were sitting at home not learning anything whilst their children are graduating from universities abroad? Or would you rather vote a man who knows the problems of this country and articulates solutions; a man who refuses to dollarise his way to Aso Rock?
A simpleton that carries with him hope, the desire to change the status quo and carries in him the spirit of prudence, frugality, and accountability? Peter Obi can midwife a change in our political, economic, and social trajectory if all true economically displaced and oppressed Nigerians go to the polls on election day with the sole objective of taking our country back by votes. Remember we have prayed fervently in times past.
In Obi, we see the manifestation of our calloused bended knees. However, “where feet are required, knees are useless”. To ensure that Peter Obi is the next tenant in Aso Rock come May 2023, we must be “obedient” to the cause. Go and register, get your almighty PVC and march to the nearest polling station to cast your votes “Obidiently”.
Double Chief Is a lecturer at Arden University England.