There is something unfamiliar that has been happening in Nigeria for some time now. And that thing is that, Nigerians seem to have in unison resolved to forget their religious differences, political disparities and their ethnic backgrounds to liberate themselves from political deceits in the hands of political deities and destiny killers who have shamelessly continued to use electricity, water and roads to campaign for elections since 1960 till today. While some people describe the happening as “earthquake”, some say it is “a tsunami” and some say it is just “a movement,” but no matter the perspective one sees it, the testimonies are proofs that something tremendous and unusual they had thought impossible to happen is pleasantly happening because of the good name of one man, Peter Gregory Obi, the former governor of Anambra State. Obi is the kind of politician and leader one sees in developed countries where things work properly because the politicians think and behave normal and are very fair. “You can go and verify”.
Obi’s record that ignited the raging fire has broken every yoke and all the barriers in every home and forcefully made nonsense of the anti-party rule by penetrating deeply in each political party and overwhelmed even their upper echelons to be “OBI-dient” and humbled to join in our national song of: “Obi kerenke Obi, kerenke Obi, give us Obi, Obi kerenke Obi”. “You can go and verify” by asking Godwin Obaseki, the governor of Edo State, who is already shivering over the expected defeat of PDP and APC in 2023.
Peter Obi is fair, selfless, sincere, visionary, courageous, humble and above all God fearing. His qualitative leadership and fantastic performances as the governor of Anambra and his simplicity have overwhelmed Nigerians and endeared him to their hearts. Since at least the new beginning of the Nigerian democracy in 1999, Nigerians have not found a politician like him. In Obi they have seen a prudent leader, a Nigerian politician with conscience, a man of high integrity that cannot be cajoled, intimidated or threatened with law enforcement agents, a man his records as an ex-governor speak volume, so transparent and impressive that whatever he said he did or that had happened while he was a governor he would say, “go and verify”. We are not saying that Obi is a saint because no one is, but we have seen the records of his transparency and sincerity in governance as he effectively managed the affairs of Anambra prudently that a few mistook him with his wise choices of spending to be stingy.
The fairness and the compassion he had also used in approaching issues that had concerned the masses as a governor were second to none. He has been tested and proven not to be a bigot but a reliable and a detribalized Nigerian with the vision for the benefit of all. Nigerians have absolute trust in him to bring for them a real change and to take them to real next level – not APC’s kind of change and next level. Anyone who knows Anambra very well and also other Nigerian states will agree with me that Anambra is one if not the most difficult state in Nigeria to govern. And if Peter Obi could lay very solid foundations and successfully succeed in reasonably delivering dividends of democracy in a state like that against all odds without any scandal or accusing fingers of corruption or embezzlement of public funds, when he becomes the president of Nigeria, he will establish and strengthen institutions with enabling and friendly environment for the emergence of factories and foreign investors that will create jobs, take youths out of the streets, permanently end ASUU strikes, give us reasonable volume of electricity supply and take us out from a consuming country to a producing country.
All scrutinized available records prove that Obi never abused his power, and was not corrupt as he handled the affairs of Anambra with the fear of God. He did not use his privileged position as a governor to grab people’s land and build mansions like many ex-governors did and many governors are perhaps currently doing. He also told us that since he left the government house the Anambra government has not “bought a pure water” for him, nor paid him pension or gratuity, and we should go and verify. But as a governor that had conscience, he reasonably paid all pensioners in Anambra their pensions and gratuities, even the ones the Anambra government owed before he became the governor of the state – that were in arrears – he cleared all. If he has already done it in Anambra, he will also do it for all Nigerians.
He also told us that he paid all government contractors who did work under his administration before he left as a governor. But many ex-governors without conscience never paid a lot of contractors who had borrowed money from banks, well-wishers, friends and family members and executed jobs given to them under their reigns and which they took credit for. Many of these corrupt and greedy ex-governors never paid our senior citizens their pensions and gratuities as Obi while they were governors, but they themselves have received their gratuities and are today receiving their pensions as when due. Sadly, some of them were even accused to have forced INEC officials under hostage to declare them winners as senators-elect for elections they never won. Furthermore, and painfully too, this bunch of dubious groups are today not only receiving salaries as legislators, but are at the same time too getting pensions as ex governors. But they shamelessly without any iota of guilt forgot that they had denied our senior citizens the same rights of pension and gratuities they are enjoying now, and by that singular act of venture brought many of the pensioners to their early graves.
The rumor is that some political parties in their narrow mindedness still believe that Obi has no structure, therefore they are trying to lure him over to their own parties. Please someone should tell them that the reality right now is that Peter Obi is not even in control of his own campaign for the 2023 presidential election anymore. While other political parties and their aspirants give people money to campaign for them, Nigerian youths and sincere concerned citizens all over the country and in Diaspora have buried their religious, ethnic and political differences and are coming together with their own little resources to fund Obi’s presidential aspiration and they have taken over the steering of Obi’s campaign lorry. While a man in Gombe State reported to be an ex-military officer has donated his house for the Labor Party to use as office, a lady in Edo State has equally donated her office building because they believe in the project of Obi. Youths who feel the pains of Lekki toll gate shooting during the “ENDSARS” protest, who are affected by ASUU strikes, who are jobless and hungry, who are frustrated and intimidated by terrorist attacks and threats of taking over all the bushes in Nigeria, and who are scared of the increasing high rate of kidnappings and killings going on in every part of Nigeria are bringing their resources together for Obi’s victory because in the hands of Obi they feel save with a bright future.
My personal interpretation of the unfolding events today with the massive support Obi is getting in every part of Nigeria is that, while Tinubu and Atiku etc. are the flag bearers of their political parties (APC and PDP respectively), Obi is the candidate and the flag bearer of the Nigerian youths and progressive Nigerians. I say so because in Nigeria politicians give and use money to entice the people to campaign and vote for them, but in Peter Obi’s case ordinary poor Nigerians like me are bringing their own money and their resources together to campaign for Obi. What a scenario! Many Nigerians who are still sleeping should not forget that PDP and APC can never help us. The two parties have failed us, though PDP seems a lesser evil in comparison with APC, but both parties cannot give us the president we want because we have seen them all and also their aspirants.
However, Nigeria being what it is, whether this incredible support and mammoth fellowship of Peter Obi will translate to electoral victory will depend entirely on us, his supporters’ determination in making sure that we vote properly when the time comes and also protect our votes after voting. Correspondingly too, whether President Buhari and INEC are ready to sincerely conduct free and fair elections for Nigerians and leave an everlasting legacy will be a major factor we should pray to go very well. Therefore, let me use this medium to equally congratulate President Buhari on the successful conduct of APC’s convention, because every evidence points that he never intervened as to influence the outcome in favor of any candidate. So, we appeal to you Sir, to please give us a free and fair election in 2023, by making sure that no one uses the military, the police, or any of the security forces to intimidate, disrupt or rig the elections. Don’t forget that when it goes well you take the credit and when it goes bad it also comes to you, and it will make no sense to soil your name for any reason. Work very hard to protect voters and INEC officials from harm because many rejected politicians have no other plan than violence. Please take note of this Sir.
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward,” said Martin Luther King Junior. Consequently, do all that is necessary and just concerning 2023 and make no mistake. However, mistakes are human and can be tolerated, but no matter what may happen, one mistake that should not be allowed to happen by hook or crook and that cannot be tolerated is to have the name of APC at the center of the Nigerian governance. It would be another tragedy; a disaster Nigeria may not be able to recover from considering the fallacy that was sold to us in 2014 that Buhari was a messiah. But today the reality stands fully stark naked before all of us that Buhari’s administration was a collateral damage we all are suffering and are yet to recover from – a disastrous damage its pain and injury inflicted on us are still very fresh.
Nigeria is right now in a very precarious situation, and any mistake will be too disastrous. Therefore, 2023 has presented itself for us to collectively change the narratives. We have been used and abused for too long and we cannot allow this golden opportunity to slip out of our hands. Consequently, we must be prudent, futuristic, sincere and wise in making our choice for the next president because we must get it right this time, and in Peter Obi and Labor Party the hope for this new Nigeria we all strive and crave for beckons.
“Obi kerenke Obi, kerenke Obi, Give us Obi, Obi kerenke Obi, gbarashi na obi …”
Uzoma Ahamefule, a concerned patriotic citizen and a refined African traditionalist, writes from Vienna, Austria.