ELUU P : The Bullet Nigeria Dodged

By Adewale Soremekun

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Straight off, let me state that I am not a fan of the so called Obidient Movement in Labour Party (LP). I am appalled by the level of hatred its emergence in the Nigerian polity whipped up, exacerbating divisions in unfathomable proportion along Nigerian fault lines of religion and ethnicity. Eluu P’s (the Obidients’ own monicker for LP) laughable attempt to swap competence, capability and capacity with mediocrity is a bullet the forefathers, in their various graves, will be grateful the country dodged.

They came with the sentiment to face out the old hands in the polity. Just like the Buhari Change campaign of 2015 which did not specify the kind of change it was bringing upon Nigeria, the Obidient movement successfully hoodwinked the vast majority of Nigerian ‘intelligent’ youths from defining the sort of youthful hands they envisioned running the affairs of the nation.

In Lagos gubernatorial election for example, they presented Gbadebo Rhode-Vivour. And all they could say about him for deserving the job of governing a state of about 20 million citizens was that he attended fancy schools and completed his second master’s degree at the age of 27 years. And that was it. How well he harnessed the silver plate education providence bestowed upon him never broached their minds. He is just 40 years, they quipped to that enquiry. So, should the governance of the sixth largest economy in Africa be a test run activity just so we cut the nose to spite the face?

Meanwhile, the 57 years too old a man they intended to unseat as governor of Lagos State was not only as industrious as he is now in his 40s but also very productive and successful in both private and public sectors. He testified to being a general manager at a strong, structured reputable investment bank, acquiring and developing competence and experience along the way before the age of 40. According to the same testimony which is in the public domain, he had been treasurer of three major banks prior to that, trading in both foreign and local currencies market. In the public sector, he had served on the board of several Lagos agencies and even had to defend a full year Lagos State budget at the Lagos State Assembly. That is the competence and capacity the Obidients sought to topple on the alta of confused youthful tantrums.

They celebrated Donatus Mathew, from Kpak, Kagoro chiefdom in the Kaura Local Government Area of Kaduna State for winning a seat at the Federal House of Representatives on sheer nothingness but his motorcycle riding business. As if that is a numero uno criteria worthy of his elected office, without any insightful recourse to his intellectual capacity or resourcefulness for the job ahead of him.

Nothing is good to them about the candidature of people of other parties. Especially those of the All Progressives Congress APC, irrespective of the competence, capacity, capabilities and the vast wealth of experience these candidates bring to the table. They tagged them no gooders. To the Obidients, youthfulness and emotionality trumps all else.

They are more Nigerian than the rest of us with their brand of emotionally laden politics of baiting religious and tribal reactions. They charged the polity with hateful rhetorics and narratives that unleashed unprecedented lowest of low of de-enfranchising response from the moral bankrupt and unintelligible miscreant of the society whose language and livelihood is violence inclined. And just as predictably, they cry victimization. The Oscar manner their influencers played the victim is so well that anyone who dare point out their fair share of culpability in the immediate and remote cause of the election thuggery the nation witnessed on March 18, 2023 gubernatorial elections is labeled a doyen of electoral violence. The question is: how does one proffer solutions to an ugly incident if its immediate and remote causes are not researched holistically?

The purveyor of this conundrum is none other than Peter Gregory Obi; an ambitious politician whose knowledgeable contemporaries saw through his shallow politicking as he hops from one political party to another shopping for a successful go at national election. Failing yet again to foist his theatrics on the political eggheads at the People Democratic Party (PDP), Obi pranced to the featherweights at LP who direly want to put the paltry 5,074 votes secured by Alh. Muhammed Usman Zaki and Chief Ezekiel Akpan at the 2019 Presidential Election behind them. He joined LP in the last week of May 2022 and in the same week emerged its presidential candidate.

The announcement of preliminary result and demographic distribution of the voters’ registration exercise in October 2022 confirmed a vital notion for Obi. The Independent National Election Commission (INEC) declared over 93.5 million Nigerians as eligible to participate in the 2023 elections as voters. About 39 percent of the voters fell within the age bracket of 18 – 34 while another 35.75 per cent were middle-aged persons between the ages of 35 and 49. These two are natural groups whose voices were systematically being stifled in the two predominant political parties of APC and PDP.

Activist Omoyele Sowore was the first to identify these natural groups’ frustration. And he began to champion a re-awakening drive to get their enthusiasm back through his online news agency, Sahara Reporters and daring calls for revolution. Sowore successfully rewakened the youth consciousness to their political strengths in determining the future of the country. But failed to properly harness their potential in his dismissal 2019 presidential campaign. Sowore lacks the capacity and final rallying touch only a seasoned politician can possess to give deft leadership and direction to the awakened and zealous 70 million young and middle aged Nigeria voters. And therein enters Obi, a one time governor of Anambra State.

Obi did the magic. First, the class of celebrities and social media influencers in the 35 – 49 years age bracket got pocketed. A set of people so accustomed to running things, dictating social trends, courting limelight both for good and bad publicity just so they are viewed as leaders of some sort. Yet who considered stooping to learn the basics, rudimentary of political party politics too subservient, characteristically jumped at the opportunity of joint runners of affairs of the Obidient Movement. They snapped in their mates in a jiffy and influenced the impressionable hearts of the 18 -34 years age bracket with tirades of propagandas and misrepresentations. And so Obi grassroots work was done. He only had to come and sow an ideology with national appeal and merit.

But Obi had none. For a presidential candidate that was a vice presidential candidate four years prior, he could not even present a manifesto until about three (3) months to the general election. His rivals were better prepared than him. They presented theirs just a month after the campaign were declared open. Obi was big on dream yet lacking in valuable content he aspires for. And that, lack in valuable content, to the discerning populace characterized Obi’s campaign. It was fraught with lies. Lies that know no bounds. The following is link to a fact check on 10 claims he made at Chatham House on Monday, 16 January 2023. https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/577449-fact-checking-10-claims-made-by-peter-obi-at-chatham-house.html.

Obi, at some point, infamously trivialized grave national economic questions to retail shops squabbles. He also took his nothingness to churches round the country to apparently whipped up wicked and dangerous sentiments against the Muslim/Muslim ticket of his major contender. Thus he wittingly or unwittingly unleashed a mob of restless youths whose zeal and enthusiasm were there for his taking to peddle narratives and rhetorics without contents germane to the presidential election discourse. The moral bearing of these fans, Obidients, grew to different levels of morbidity with name calling, shaming, curse words, cyber bullying and expletives greeting voices that talked up the competitive edge of the eventual winner of the February 25 2023 presidential election on grounds of good and innovative track records, tenacity, keen eye for talents, great people management skills, mentorship, pace setting, foresight, sagacity and of course competence, capacity and character.

Reno Omokri was the first notable public figure to raise the alarm of Obidients’ threat to his lives and children as early as July 2022. The following month saw the 60 years old Afrobeat singer Femi Kuti lamented same. And Nigerians got the memo. Do not speak of Peter Obi or his fans’ failings! They filled the polity with threats that bait and beget equal and reprehensible latent responses that culminated into brazen thug reactions on Election Days. What a movement! I shudder to think the Hitler clout the country could be experiencing now had he been declared the winner of the presidential election on March 1, 2023. And that, is yet another bullet well dodged.

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