Peter Obi’s tsunami, APC and PDP are underrated


FORMER Anambra State Governor Peter Obi is inspiring a powerful youth-led, social media-enabled political tidal wave that will dramatically change the contours of the 2023 elections.

But APC and PDP operatives, still drunk on overconfidence in the size and deep pockets of their parties, sneer at the thought that Peter Obi’s Labor will be a game-changer next year. They comfort each other with the mantra that there are no voting booths on social media where Peter Obi worshipers form noisy cybersilos.

Well, there is no opponent more dangerous than an underrated opponent. People who are used to the politics of the past may reject it, but something fundamentally new is happening. There’s an ever-growing number of fiery young (and old) people pouring their time, energy and emotions into Peter Obi. We’ve seen dramatic spikes in PVC registration and an increase in offline political mobilization, all thanks to him.

Three factors seem to be behind this. First, there is massive disillusionment with the quality and character of presidential candidates from both major parties. These are the same sadly familiar, recycled, unimaginative, self-interested and careerist politicians who are deeply invested in maintaining the dysfunctions that keep Nigeria in the twilight zone between life and death.

They utter the same cliches on the fly, can’t articulate any grand vision, are indistinguishable from old politicians, have no commitment to lofty ideals, and are in politics to steal and bestow favors on cronies.

Peter Obi seems to be different. He comes across as down-to-earth, self-aware, committed to transparency and demystifying governance, and as someone who invests considerable intellectual energies in thinking about and proposing solutions to Nigeria’s problems. .

I doubt the facticity of some of his more self-righteous messianic claims, and suspect that he sometimes hyperbolizes some of his anecdotes about his time as Governor of Anambra State to win the applause of his audience.

As a scholar of rhetorical studies, I know that rhetoricians can sometimes feel pressured not to violate their captive audience’s expectations by telling stories their audience wants to hear, even if it means twisting or twisting the facts a little.

Nevertheless, compared to Atiku Abubakar and Bola Tinubu, Peter Obi is a breath of fresh air.

The second driver of the dramatic rise in Obi’s political profile is religious. Many Christians in both the South and the North feel excluded from the presidential lists of the APC and the PDP. Churches across Nigeria are supporting him. I think this is legitimate in the interests of representative justice, particularly because Obi is not a pastor with a predetermined agenda to advance narrow religious or sectarian causes.

Although Obi is a devout Catholic, he is deeply secular and, based on some of his speeches that I have watched, has a deep understanding of the imperative to separate the sacred and the profane in governance .

The third driver of its popularity is Igbo resentment of systemic political exclusion. In my April 2, 2022 column titled “Why Nigeria Needs an Igbo President in 2023”, I wrote:

“The Igbo are almost where the Yoruba were in 1998. There is massive resentment among them. Many of them feel emotionally disconnected from Nigeria. And we all know why. Besides the fact that they have never produced a president or vice president since 1999, Muhammadu Buhari has done an extremely poor job of managing Nigeria’s complex diversity.

“The sense of alienation now felt by a vast band of Igbo has made many of them, especially their youth, susceptible to the murderous wiles of the mentally and emotionally disturbed mountebank called Nnamdi Kanu.”

Some of the secessionist oxygen that sustained the Biafran unrest has now been redirected to Peter Obi. Nnamdi Kanu has now been put on the back burner. While some people have put a negative spin on this, I think this is a golden opportunity. It shows that an Igbo presidency will resolve secessionist unrest and violence in the Southeast. For me, it’s a worthwhile reward.

Incidentally, in the April 2 column, Peter Obi is one of two Igbo I recommended as presidential candidates. The other was Kingsley Moghalu who sadly lost his party’s primary election.

I wrote: “The second is Peter Obi. In a March 25, 2022 article titled “Peter Obi: Applying to be a Stunned Car Driver,” I mentioned that listening to his speeches captured my imagination. He seems to be on top of Nigeria’s problems, and what I’ve read of his record as Governor of Anambra State inspires some confidence that he’s not just a talker. I cannot speak to his cosmopolitanism and commitment to seeing all of Nigeria as his constituency. That’s for voters to know. »

If Obi’s political momentum continues until February next year and the elections are free and fair, I predict he will bring about a runoff. If he leads with the Youth, Igbo and Christian votes (I know there is an overlap in the categories) he will upset both the APC and the PDP to the point that none of between them will not be able to win in the first round of the presidential election.

If he does not win or qualify to participate in the second round, the one he supports will be the winner. Thus, an intelligent political party will not yet oppose him or his followers.

But there are dangers for Obi, however, if he were to somehow overcome the structural obstacles on his path to becoming president. First, his devotees call themselves “Obidients” and ask him “Obidience”. It’s horrible. They would be worse than Buhari’s BMC trolls.

What is needed in a democracy is critical citizenship, not “obedience”. “Obedience” in democracy suggests an abandonment of its critical faculty, which is precisely what Bouharism is.

Obi’s rise to political stardom is propelled by anger against the political establishment. This is the literal definition of populism. Populism instrumentalizes anger for politics without being able to transform the lives of angry people in any meaningful way.

Obi’s devotees imagine him to be the solutions to Nigeria’s problems and expect him to wave the magic wand and make them go away. As he himself admitted in a previous public appearance, Nigeria’s problems are structural and systemic and cannot be solved by a simple change of personnel in the corridors of power.

If his presidency violates the expectations of his followers, they will turn against him. In other words, he is riding the tiger of populism, and he will devour it when he comes down.

A pastor’s reckless wish for Buhari’s murder?

A pastor Olugbemiga Olowosoyo who prophesied that Yemi Osinbajo would win the last APC presidential primary (in which he came third) insisted that Osinbajo would still be president, according to TheCable on June 16.

“It is by being vice-president that you will become president,” he said. “If you are not Osinbajo, you will not understand what I said. But if you are close to Osinbajo, tell him that I said it. Let him go and be vice president of Buhari Buhari’s era is ending very soon.

What does it mean? That Buhari will be assassinated or poisoned for Osinbajo to take power from him? Remember Osinbajo would have said a loud “Amen!” in his hometown of Ikenne in Ogun State when an RCCG pastor prayed that Buhari would die in London so that Osinbajo would become president.

Of course, it’s unlikely that anyone could assassinate or poison Buhari, but why are some of these so-called men of God so reckless and irresponsible in what they say?

Let Buhari complete what remains of his wasted presidential term and let Nigeria fend for itself.

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