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Mistakes candidate Obi must never make Mistakes candidate Obi must never make
by Ovi Magazine Guest
2022-06-20 08:48:29
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Mistakes candidate Obi must never make
By Tunde Akande

Peter Gregory Obi is taking the political terrain in Nigeria by storm. Until recently, the Nigerian political terrain has not witnessed such a rare display of charisma, intellectualism, readiness and, determination to make a change. Obi is not ready to go it the way of the old, he is not prepared to bend to any "how to do it" of Nigerian politics. He is prepared to break new grounds, shatter the glass ceiling and challenge the moneybags. Obi is not poor, he is indeed richer than many of the loudmouths of Nigerian politics but Obi is not a free spender. Obi made his money through hard work and discipline and is not prepared to give it away through indiscipline and bribery. When he noticed that the PDP, the party under which he ran the 2019 election with Abubakar Atiku as vice president, was not going to honour its pledge to zone the presidency to the southeast region, Obi, days before the party's convention, crossed to the less known Labour Party to fly the flag of the party as its presidential candidate.

ob001_400Labour Party is not well known and it is not in the calculation of bookmakers as a possible party that can win the presidency but hardly did Obi get to the party than the horizon of the party began to get brighter. Obi took his charisma, his knowledge of the economic terrain, and his good grasp of the statistics of development to the party and continues to dominate the political terrain. Obi has all the media, social and mainstream in his grip not by bribery but by charisma and knowledge, and hard work. He has results as the youths are trooping after him. Obi's humility and simplicity which are natural to him are speaking for him everywhere. On one occasion, Obi, a multi-billionaire got trapped at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja because there was no commercial aircraft to take him to one of his political destinations. Obi could own a jet but he has none. Obi could hire one privately but his prudence will not allow him; so he got trapped with others; all commoners. He joined them in the long wait. He soon took his phone and began to work on his contacts. An aircraft was provided and rather that go alone, Obi choose to go with the crowd; his presence made way for many passengers who had almost lost hope that they will travel that day. Obi's popularity soared. So everybody who had the opportunity wanted to testify about Obi's sterling performances while he was governor of Anambra State, many called him to go to the federal level and replicate what he did in Anambra.

If a popularity rating on media is conducted now, not even the big spenders like Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar will measure up with Obi. He dominates the social media space. Obi gives many instances of his prudence in and out of government. He would not sleep in a five-star hotel and rather than build a guesthouse for a visiting president when he was governor, he chose to vacate his own governor's lodge for the visiting president. He and his wife went to lodge in a private hotel. By doing that he saved money for the state in an environment where lavish spending of government resources has become the style of office holders. Obi did not allow anybody to pay him social visits in the Government House because he knew such visits will mean heavy spending on wine, food, and merriment. Rather, Obi will go to see such persons in their houses. Obi's frugality enabled him to deploy the people's resources to the need of the people. In Nigeria where presidents have turned the resources of the nation to their private property and that of their family and their cronies, Obi stands apart. For example, the wife of the president lives in Dubai most part of the year, the children of the president attended universities abroad and the president has grown more robust compared to before he assumed office. The president reportedly gave a dollar gift to his Special Adviser (Media) as he went to China to attend a conference. Obi's appeal lies in his simplicity and humility, thus he appeals to many Nigerians, especially the youth as one needed to manage the austere times the nation is in.

But will Obi win the 2023 presidency? Can he win it? Despite Obi's soaring popularity, Obi and his handlers will do well to beware of some pitfalls. Social media popularity is not an indication of success in the polls in Nigeria. The 2019 election where the youth made a very loud noise on social media and yet did not turn out to vote on election day is a very good example. What INEC counts are votes, not noises. Good enough, because of the current large failure of the current administration, especially its myopic desire to force the Fulani, the ethnicity of the president on the nation, the youths of different ethnicities are being encouraged to register. Obi enjoys a large following among the Igbo youths. The elders joined recently when the Ohaneze Ndigbo, the Igbo socio-cultural organization said they will support Obi. Ohaneze's decision is only pragmatic because Obi is the only Igbo candidate ready and determined to tackle the issue of the presidency which the Igbos want very badly.

But Obi will do well to handle his large Igbo supporters with care. Why? Igbo candidacy strategy is one thing the Igbo have tried and failed at many times in the past. Obi must be Nigerian and less Igbo. The Igbo is the only nationality in Nigeria that has the most advantage to build bridges with other ethnic nationalities in the country. They live practically in every space in the nation doing their business. Why they have not used this advantage to their optimum benefit and that of the nation is confusing. Do they integrate with their hosts or live as separate entities among their hosts? An opinion says the Igbos are not loved by other ethnic nationalities because whereas they buy land in other places, they refuse to sell their own land back home. This is robbing them of the necessary embrace by other ethnicities. Obi himself must change the garment of tribalism if he's wearing any. Obi has explained the allegation of tribalism away, an affliction of many Nigerians, but Nigerians outside of Igbo land continue to point to his face-off with Nasir El-Rufai, Kaduna State governor, during the 2011 election when he charged at El-Rufai and got him arrested in Awka. El-Rufai had gone to Awka to represent his party, Congress for Progressive Change, CPC. Obi charged on television, "we are the most hard-working people in Nigeria and they have come to slow us down", meaning El-Rufai's presence in Awka at that election was a deliberate plan of the North to slow down the Igbo. Other Nigerians have pinned the label of tribalism to this charge and this garment is one that Obi must put off, however difficult it is if he wants to serve the whole country.

Obi and his handlers must also work to curtail the rain of abuses that usually come from the East during electioneering. One of the huge failings of the secessionist effort is this tendency in the East to abuse anybody that expresses a different opinion from theirs. Caustic remarks have made many other Nigerians avoid the East in debate and this will always translate to electoral rejection. Obi is breaking new grounds but may he watch these pitfalls and win, possibly.


Tunde Akande is both a journalist and a pastor. He earned a Master’s degree in Mass Communication from the University of Lagos.

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