Peter Gregory Obi: A Final Appeal
By: Deji Yesufu
In three days, Nigerians will be trooping out for another general elections, where they will be voting in a new President and his deputy; new sets of law makers at the National Assembly; and in another two weeks, they will be voting in state governors and state law makers. The cry in the heart of Nigerians is for genuine change. Most of us can trace the trouble with our nation to the absence of a functional, visionary and cerebral leadership. The problem is how do we know who this person is and how do we bring such a person to power. It appears that a country populated with talented youths and bright academics is doomed to electing the dregs of its society to lead her. Recently I came across a number of University of Ibadan dons, who were preparing to join the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the forthcoming elections as electoral officials and I could not but wonder at the sight of our brightest minds counting the votes for a set of politicians whose only qualification for elective office is primary school certificate. I could spend the rest of this article lamenting the sorry state of our country but I will not. I will rather want to focus on one of the Presidential candidates, Peter Obi, and make a final appeal to voters to consider him for the lofty office of the President of Nigeria.
I must make it clear that Peter Gregory Obi is not a saint. It is only providential that he is named after the foremost Apostle of Christ, on whom our Lord promised to build the Church. Perhaps the building of a new Nigeria will begin with his time in office. Obi has run a stellar campaign. He has avoided every opportunity to be dragged into the mucky waters of politics and he has refused to label his opponents with the same derogatory labels they have heaped on him. This reveal one of many virtuous character traits that Peter Obi exemplifies that qualifies him as worthy of occupying Aso Rock. In this essay, the audience that I am seeking to win with this article are the undecided numbers that largely populate our voting community.
My investigations reveal a large voters’ apathy towards the forthcoming elections. I believe this is more inherent in South-West Nigeria. Abubakar Atiku is not appealing to this set of voters because the country cannot afford another eight years of northern leadership – governance in Nigeria should represent the diverse nature of the country. It is clearly the turn of southern Nigeria to rule the country. Bola Tinubu has lost this group of voters also because he is clearly not the Tinubu that led Lagos State from 1999 to 2007. By no fault of his, age has gotten the better of him and this country cannot afford to have another ailing President in office. Peter Obi has also not been very appealing to this set of voters because of the new found blackmail that is pervading Yoruba land right now: it is said that to leave a son of Yoruba and to vote someone else is to be a bastard. It is really sad that such base ethno-centric thinking will rear its head at yet another election circle in our dear country. Religion and ethnicity have been the prime factors for voters in Nigeria and after 24 years of doing this kind of politics the country has not been the better for it. One will think that at this juncture in our national life people will begin to think above such base ethnic sentimentalities. Electing a president in Nigeria is an opportunity to elect a chief executive officer to lead country. Any organization that will thrive knows that they must go beyond mere religion and ethnicity to elect the person that will lead their organization – or else the organization will be run by incompetent individuals; and thus we ought not to wonder any further why this country has not always had the best minds lead her. Yes, Peter Obi is Ibo; but his ethnicity must be the last credentials we want to examine before electing him to lead us. Among the three, Peter Obi is the youngest, the most visionary, the one with the best manifesto; he has shown the greatest concern for the ordinary people of this country; he is the humblest of the lot; and he is running purely on the strength of his character and not on any money-chest he has anywhere.
Recently, I met a Nigerian man based in the United States who is very interested in investing in the economy of Nigeria. He hopes are that Bola Tinubu will be elected President because he thinks that the Nigerian economy will fair better under him. Unfortunately, I disagree with him. Nigeria’s problem has never been the absence of resources; our problem has always been our inability to use resources well. In Nigeria there is enough for all of our needs but there can never be enough for all of our greed. Bola Ahmed Tinubu failed the test of probity when he was unable to adequately answer to the allegations brought against him regarding his links to drug pushing in the United States before his foray into politics. Those who know Tinubu well call him the landlord of Lagos. There is a video circulating the internet where Chief Bode George was reeling out all the properties Tinubu acquired while he was in office. It is not a secret that Tinubu appoints people to political office in Lagos. If Bola Tinubu can grow this powerful merely as Governor of Lagos, what will happen when he becomes president? On the other hand, Peter Obi merely served Anambra State for eight years and left office without any political hold on the governance of that state. What Nigeria’s economy needs is someone who will manage the little resources we have. We actually need a stingy person – somebody who will ensure the wise use of the little resources this country has. Nigeria needs to starve corruption to death and of all the three leading candidates, Peter Obi is the only person with the kind of credential to end corruption in this land. The Nigerian economy will thrive under an Obi presidency.
Having made these appeals, I want to also conclude by making an appeal to the “Obidient Movement”. The Obidient movement is one that started a few months ago after Peter Obi declared his intentions to run for presidency under the Labor Party. Thousands of young people began to flood the internet lending their support for him. We have seen many of them also on the ground joining the campaign train. It has simply been magical. My appeal is this: we have come to the final lap of the marathon race; we cannot lose momentum right now. I saw a video yesterday of some Obidient youths complaining of lack of mobilization money; they were asking Peter Obi to send them money just as the other leading candidates were doing for their supporters. We should understand that when we joined this movement, we joined a movement that was not going to be run in the usual money-distributing manner that others do their politics. If Peter Obi will win, we all must put in our own resources to see him get to office. Let the others distribute money; but let us put in our own resources, and let us see which of them God will bless. We must continue the campaign with all that we have. This is not the time to complain; this is not the time to fight each other. When Obi gets to office, everything good will come.
Finally, while I hope Peter Obi will win, I am very open to all the possibilities that could happen. I know that either Tinubu or Atiku could clinch the much-coveted seat. Whatever happens at the close of voting this weekend, it will be God’s will for us as a nation. And God’s will is not always good; Tinubu or Atiku could be God’s judgement on the ways of a people. Whatever happens, I simply trust God. Some weeks back, I wrote about how ancient governments used to be mostly monarchies and how in spite of the irresponsible leadership that some of these kings and queens brought on their subjects, God’s will was still done on the nations of the earth. It is the reason why this election is no longer a do-or-die affair for me. Whoever becomes president, I am secured in the fact that God is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. It will be well with Nigeria – ultimately.