By Chibuike Nwabuko
The entry of the former Governor of Anambra State, His Excellency, Peter Obi into the Presidential race has raised the bar in Nigeria’s political sphere.
Since the relaunch of multi party democracy in 1999, presidential election in Nigeria has not generated as much interest and attention as the current electioneering build up to the 2023 general elections.
This was brought about by just one man, Peter Obi who began his run with the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) but had to resign from the party few weeks to it’s presidential primary election.
He made a switch to the Labour Party, (LP) and eventually clinched the presidential ticket. Many political watchers and some of his admirers did not see the move by Peter Obi as a wise decision but it turned out to be not only the turning point in his presidential ambition but also in the profile of the party.
As a matter of fact, he has been credited as the doctor who awakened the Labour Party from its slumber to a leading party for 2023 contest.
He has brought a new dimension to
political campaigns in the country. For the first time we saw a candidate who has offered himself to proper scrutiny and interrogations on why he wants to preside the affairs of the country as the president.
Before he left the Peoples Democratic Party, he had toured almost the entire thirty-six states of the country to sell himself to the party delegates and that offered him the opportunity to also meet some prominent citizens across the six geopolitical zones of the country.
Obi has a lot going for him. He is one candidate that stands clean. He has no controversy surrounding his person unlike the candidates of the two other major parties, the PDP and the APC. He is also gifted with oratory skill and good knowledge of the potentials available in the various regions of the country.
He is the only presidential candidate who took time off to visit diaspora Nigerians in Europe and America to brief them of his agenda if he gets elected and answered their gueries on a number of issues. The diaspora Nigerians were so convinced that Obi was the right man for the job that they offered to raise $150 million to support his campaign.
Before jetting out of the country to engage the diaspora Nigerians, the Labour Party Candidate in August addressed a gathering of all his numerous support groups at a national conference in Abuja. The idea was harmonise them to key into his vision and ensure proper understanding of the direction he is heading to.
In his speech at the gathering which also attracted the representatives of Obidient Movement from outside Nigeria, Obi had emphatically told his supporters that himself and his vice, Datti Baba Ahmed were not running for Presidency but rather, it is the people fighting to take over the leadership of the country through them.
The trust of his discussions anywhere he goes remains, “it’s time for Nigeria to practise true democracy which is people based. To Obi, it is time for Nigerians to take over their country from the few elites who had hitherto hijacked the country and mismanaged the resources.
Only last Monday, September 12, 2022, the Labour Party organised a retreat for its national leaders, candidates and trade unions.
The president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Ayuba Wabba who led top officers of trade unions to the retreat, assured that the Congress would mobilise its over twelve million members nationwide to vote for Obi/Datti candidacy.
Wabara observed that politics had become big business in Nigeria, stressing that, “people are selling properties to contest elections with intention to recover their investments after winning. This is not the type of politics labour is preaching”.
He noted that experience had shown that protests and strikes would not fix Nigeria, adding that the NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) would activate their structures in Nigeria’s 774 local government areas for the Labour Party’s candidates.
Also speaking at the retreat, the Lagos based human rights lawyer and the Senior Advocate of Nigeria, (SAN), Femi Falana urged the Labour Party Candidate to move his campaigns to the streets, offices of labour unions, and to the market women.
Peter Obi who was equally in attendance assured that he would from day one hit the ground running stressing that he would not indulge in complaints if elected president.
There is no doubt that indeed Obi’s emergence has altered the equations. Both the ruling Party’s candidate Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his PDP counterpart, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar are rattled by mass cour followership the Obi/Datti candidacy is commanding.
It is evident that while the two major parties APC and PDP are spending money to organise rallies, the supporters of Obi/Datti are taxing themselves to organise street rallies. People are donating properties for Obi/Datti campaign offices across the country while others are providing materials for campaign.
The fear of Obi/Datti indeed has pushed the other opponents into raining attacks on him both on electronic and social media but the more such attacks come, the more Obi supporters double numerically. It is truly a new era in the nation’s democracy.