“If we want to answer ‘His Excellency’, the process that brings us to office must be excellent.” — Peter Obi
The electoral performance of the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, who joined a political party and within a short time turned it into a formidable political force in the country has the speed of a sprinter. But our background check shows him to be more of a political marathoner in word and deed, not a mere sprinter.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC’s disappointing performance in the February 25 presidential election, which has compelled Obi to seek judicial recovery of his mandate, is only sending him to familiar terrain. When it comes to seeking justice through the courts, Obi is a marathoner, having the stamina to stay the distance to justice. He has the patience, endurance, and determination to wait to receive both a medal and a trophy.
No wonder Obi told supporters at a press conference last week: “It’s a long journey; no matter how long the night, there will be daybreak. We will walk through darkness until day breaks. I will be in front [along] with you until the day comes.”
If Obi were a field and track champ, he would be either Ethiopian or East African, the region that has dominated the global marathon for years. Obi certainly would not have been a Jamaican or American known for their sprint sensations. Every human being was created for a purpose to achieve something, knowingly or unknowingly. Those who fail to realise the purpose of their creation end up leaving this earth in frustration and melancholy.
Over the years, Obi has proved to be a man brought into this part of the globe for some fundamental changes in business and politics. Empirically, Obi has never been anywhere without leaving a huge impact. This man has reached the pinnacle of whatever he puts his hand in; none he has gotten in a fiat despite his meaning well. He passes through a place he makes a fundamental change, leaving it better than he met it.
A man with the doggedness to always seek justice and the beguiling patience to wait for positive results. Obi is by no means new to legal tussles and profiling him leaves no one in doubt that his current petition against INEC will be another cause celebre, both in process and in the outcome. Lawyers enjoy rising to Obi’s defence because he goes the proverbial extra mile to bring out the best in his legal team. Lawyers enjoy evidence more than money! We know why, you win cases and become Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, by winning cases not by making money.
Asked during a televised interview in 2022 if Peter Obi could ever win the presidency in 2023, the PDP candidate and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar answered, “Only a miracle can make that happen.” The same TV station that aired the Abubakar interview later confronted Obi with Atiku’s response. “Everything about my life has a touch of miracle and the presidency may not be different if the former VP thinks so,” responded Obi.
However, the question we will try to answer this week is why Obi even so far is a miracle in the nation’s political space. Why should his recent tango with the INEC be approached with caution? Writing him off is at one’s peril. The political story of the man shows that his current spar with INEC has brought him right into his natural habitat.
If you think that Obi’s challenge of the February 25 robbery of the people’s mandate is a waste of time, the conversation below will shift your stand. And if you are among those who are optimistic and upbeat that Obi will come out victorious, our discourse below will firm up your convictions. Obi’s political journey has considerable antecedents; his is a well-traveled road laced with success stories. There is something about him now that is making people weave spirituality around his actions [and inaction].
When he arrived in Anambra State from Lagos in 2002, wanting to replace the much-maligned Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju, nobody took him seriously. As he joined the ruling PDP, Obi, being a neophyte and non-pro in Anambra politics, was not even allowed to talk at meetings. Frustrated by this apparent snub and utter disregard, he left the party, joined the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, and won its flagbearer ticket. He packaged himself in a booklet entitled, “Are we the cause or are we cursed?” He went about his campaigns, persuading Ndi Anambra that he would put the state in a better shape.
The gubernatorial election came and the people listened to him and voted for him against PDP, defeating PDP’s Dr. Chris Ngige. The PDP governments in Anambra and at the federal level could not fathom that and they pressured the then INEC to pass PDP instead of APGA. The people were angry but Obi urged them to be calm the way he had done in his recent case as he approached the tribunal. For three years, he was at various levels of the petition courts until the Supreme Court ruling that restored his electoral mandate from March to November 2006, February to May 2007, and June 2007 to March 2014.
That ruling made history as he became the first governorship candidate to gain an electoral mandate through the courts. Having been sworn in at an odd time on March 17, 2006, when the court ruled his case, instead of May 29, 2003, the tenure count of the governor of Anambra changed after Obi won it again through the courts.
As he settled to govern, the PDP-dominated House of Assembly became the next bottleneck. Not long after he was impeached in a 5am sitting of the state’s parliament, again he returned to the courts that brought him back. Again by that impeachment and via Obi, Anambra produced in history the first female governor, Dame Virgy Etiaba, the deputy governor who ruled in place of her impeached principal.
Fast-tracking this Obi story in Anambra State to the current happening around him politically, one may be safe to say that history is on a second missionary journey with Obi.
Just as the Anambra PDP had neglected Obi and he ran to APGA and turned it into a ruling party, the same way Obi came to the same PDP, wanting to be the presidential flag bearer but was humiliated, political traders, miscreants from his Anambra were hired and empowered to prove that he is a nobody at home.
Obi left PDP again, joined the Labour Party, and turned it around into a third force that completely changed the political dynamics of Nigeria. As the ruling PDP did in 2003 when they could not imagine being defeated by an unknown party and declared itself the winner until the court said otherwise, this time the ruling APC cannot imagine a structure-less social media political party winning and defeating it and decided with the help of Prof Mahmoud Yakubu and his team in INEC to declare themselves the winner and asking the aggrieved to go to court. Even though Obi was aware of the saying that whenever an armed robber after robbing taunts you to meet him in court, there is always more than meets the eye, his cousin or gang members might be the judge.
By asking the rigged to go to court, the riggers rely on the old myth that nobody ever wins the Nigerian presidency by litigation. They forget that history is always there to make. They forget that a Peter Obi is involved and that the last time he was similarly in such a situation nobody before had become governor via the court. A third force in the nation’s political space was never there or envisaged until Obi arrived. Political campaigns driven by issues were never there until Obi arrived. A South East person to be accepted nationally was not there until Obi arrived on the scene.
So, if we in Nigeria have a strange political character like Obi with unique stories behind him and we still ignore the soothsayer’s predictions or insist on making sure he doesn’t have his way even with an obvious case like the February 25, 2023, incident, we need to be reminded that satan’s greatest weapon is man’s ignorance of God’s word and it’s for the same reason that Apostle Paul in a letter to Ephesians who where also in doubt about God’s power that they were “being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart.” In this Obi matter I will like to conclude this discourse by admonishing us as a country to be careful so that in our obstinacy, largely by hate and bigotry, we do not as a nation find ourselves in conflict with God. And may we not forget the warning of the Psalmist in 7:15: “Behold him who has given birth to injustice: he has conceived sorrow and has begotten iniquity.”
May our hearts not be hardened in the pursuit of justice, righteousness, and fairness.