BusinessDay

2023: What Peter Obi’s victory could mean for Nigeria – Observers

…Credibility deficit in other parties will benefit Obi - LP

For many following Nigeria’s political development since the inception of the Fourth Republic in 1999, the ongoing massive endorsement enjoyed by the Labour Party (LP), did not come as a surprise.

The mass movement being set off by the Presidential Candidate of the party, Peter Obi has been described by many as unprecedented in Nigeria’s political history in recent times.

This perhaps, was responsible for the recent result of the poll conducted by NOI Polls Ltd, commissioned by the ANAP Foundation, which put Peter Obi at 21 percent of votes with other two major contenders at 13 percent apiece.

The poll coming few days after the organised Labour, said it was mobilising its 12 million membership base to actualise the Obi/Datti Presidential ambition, in 2023, at the retreat organised in Abuja has been described by some members of the LP as a good omen.

Although some Nigerians have dismissed the opinion poll result, several others said the result was a reflection of Obi’s growing popularity and acceptability among the electorate across Nigeria.

Political pundits believe that the wide support and acceptance Obi enjoys across the country represent a damning rejection of the mainstream ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as both parties appear to be losing their social base, at the backdrop of poor performance and growing mistrust in the polity, leaving the Labour Party to be consolidating its base.

The zest with which Obi speaks about the envisioned new Nigeria under his leadership; the promise of giving the country back to the real owners- the masses of the country, and the excruciating pain being experienced by the masses of Nigeria, may have combined to swell support across the country for Peter Obi.

Many Nigerians strongly believe that Obi’s victory in February would mean an end to insecurity, poor governance, poverty, and all the negative things associated with non-performing government.

Nigerians across all strata, who reacted in separate interviews with BusinessDay Sunday, said they were optimistic that Obi is genuinely keen on addressing the multifaceted challenges besetting the country and was the best candidate.

They said that with the current state of the country, Nigerians desired a new type of government that put them first and has the capacity, frugality in the management of resources.

“The opinion poll result is a true reflection of Obi’s popularity ahead of next year’s election, if you are surprised I am not. It is the reality that Nigerians have embraced; they desired a new type of government.

“I mean a government that puts them first, and has capacity and frugality in the management of resources. It is a result of fairness in a democratic entity”, Gbadebo Rhodes Vivour, LP’s governorship candidate in Lagos State for next year’s general election said.

Gbadebo stressed that Nigerians were tired of the status-quo and desired a new order, expressing confidence that with a free and fair poll, he was optimistic that the voice of the people would prevail.

“Let me tell you; go to the street and you would know that people are tired. We are hopeful; they say the voice of the people is the voice of God.

“This opinion poll result would manifest and the will of the people would prevail,” he said.

Kachi Ononuju, a Public Affairs analyst, see the poll as “a further proof and confirmation of the widely held political views of Nigerians who have decided to take their nation back from the evil paws of the party that unceasingly, crudely, recklessly and blindly busy robbing the nation in governance.

Ononuju, who is the director-general ( DG) of The Heritage Centre, a think tank dedicated to research into economics, politics and opinions, said the development is a “good thing” for Nigeria, adding that “the country is currently witnessing a Spring and it is a political Spring and it is volcanic the way I see it.”

According to him, “The good thing about it is that it is organic. A well organised sociological and political Spring is afoot in Nigeria.”

Ononuju, while reminiscing over the #ENDSARS protests of two years ago, noted that “when the young people of Nigeria tried to protest about governance and the absence of justice, equity and fairness, from the Police, because the Police is the first point of contact between the government and the people, the government violently suppressed it.

“It is a good thing because, compared to what happened in Northern Island. Today, the Sinn Féin is the leading party, but in Nigeria, I see the street, as was with the IRA, the angry behaviour of the Irish on the streets brought changes. For Nigeria, you now have the people who complained on the streets moving into the political mainstream and they have employed Peter Obi as the face of their masquerade. That is why I see the Spring as organic.”

Read also: How Labour Party rides to limelight on Peter Obi’s momentum

John Airohi, an Abuja-based businessman, sees Obi’s rising profile as direct reflection of his “personal Integrity” which he said has become “a scarce commodity among the Nigerian political class.”

“Many are counting on him to deliver the country from its current socioeconomic quagmire,” Airohi said.

The Labour Party Leaders and Stakeholders at the retreat, said that its government would be active in the process of rescuing Nigeria from the ruling cartel in APC and PDP, who are holding the country hostage, by pushing a new message of hope and national prosperity that will forever change how politics is played in Nigeria.

The party also assured that it would enthrone a government that is egalitarian and inclusive, “which will make Chapter 2 of the Nigerian Constitution justiceable, as against the current regime of nepotism and irresponsibility.

“The party shall make the Nigerian Workers’ Charter of Demands the driving agenda of the Labour Party Campaign for the 2023 elections, which will be implemented by Labour Party Government on short, medium and long term bases, to redefine Nigeria and put it on the path of positive development.”

It also promised to invest in human capital development, especially the country’s teaming youth populace through effective and functioning quality education by ensuring the revival of Nigeria’s decadent education sector.

“Personally, I don’t doubt the credentials of Obi and what he can do, I can’t speak much about the opinion poll result, I would rather work hard at the grassroots and win, than depending on that.

“But I am supporting Obi, but I know that he is the right candidate, who can pull us from this dying economy, create jobs and save us from this mess that is self- imposed.

“I am a member of another party, but I am supporting him, it is even causing problems among my peers”, Omobolaji Oshinowo, a former national executive member of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and secretary of LP in Lagos said.

Oshinowo added that it was obvious that Obi stands out among the array of candidates jostling to occupy the exalted seat of the presidency in the 2023 poll.

“Maybe it is too early to say who would win in 2023, but it is obvious that he is the best among the presidential candidates. He understands the problems of the country and how to tackle it.

“Not the kind of people we have now. But I would advise him to begin to build structure at the grassroots, towns and villages, rather than travel across the world to meet people who would not vote,” Oshinowo added.

Similarly, Emeka Oko, a 25-year-old accountant, who works with one of the leading financial institutions, expressed his support for Obi, stressing that the LP candidate had total support among the youths because there was the need for the narrative to change going forward.

“People are tired, especially the youths like me. We are tired of selfish leaders, who don’t care about our future or for the unborn. What I want is a new order, someone who can change things and re-organise the country.

“We’ll appreciate more of such victorious polls for Obi. Obi is creating headache for the candidate ahead of next year election,” Oko said.

However, political analyst, Kunle Okunade advised that the opinion result could be deceiving ahead of the general election.

According to him, “Winning elections in Nigeria is beyond conducting opinion polls most especially in our climes where vote behaviour is subject to change at any given opportunity.

“I see this poll as giving an ample opportunity to the APC and PDP to work hard in regions and Spectrum of the society dominated by LP ahead of the 2023 general election. There is still more time for the APC and PDP to change the dynamics.”

Since since securing the presidential ticket of the Labour Party for the 2023 general election, Peter Obi has been in the spotlight.

But the development, especially the huge youth followership, which the former Anambra State governor is enjoying, has become a big worry for other presidential aspirants, particularly the old among them, who are likely going to retire after the 2023 election, if they fail.

Looking at the possibility of Obi’s victory at the polls in 2023, Chijioke Umelahi, a former Abia lawmaker, disclosed that the likes of Atiku Abubakar, Bola Tinubu, Abdullahi Adamu, among other politicians who are well over 75 years old may go on forced retirement as most of them will clock over 80 years when another general election will come.

“I think the Obi factor is not only going to change the thinking of the youths, but the dynamics of our politics because Nigeria will get to see the youngest set of leaders if Obi/Baba-Ahmed gets into power in 2023. That will retire so many old politicians who are holding the country back”, Umelahi, who was defeated by an older politician in the Arochukwu/Ohafia Federal Constituency primaries, said.

As at today, at least 58 senators will not be returning for 10 National Assembly in 2023, and majority of them are older politicians, who are retiring on health grounds, disfavor from senatorial district, party politics among other reasons.

Theodore Orji, a former governor of Abia State, is not returning to the senate as he had earlier promised to “retire from politics” come 2023.

The 78-year-old said his decision was made to pave the way for a younger person to take over.

Nora Daduut of Plateau South, who is equally old, did not seek re-election to allow other aspirants to get a shot at the seat in the senate.

There are many among the over 58 senators who are not returning on health and age grounds.

As well, over a hundred members, about 70 percent of the 360-member House of Representatives may not be back in the green chamber.

Jasper Onyeyiri, a senior lecturer at University of Nigeria Nsukka, ASUU executive and critic of the Buhari administration, who spoke from his hideout, decried that the old politicians are still in power because there are taking over their seats at the Senate, House of Representatives, government houses and other leadership positions.

“Theodore Orji is retiring while his son is going to House of Representatives, Tinubu left senate and planted his wife, Lai Mohammed’s son has been a member of Lagos State House of Assembly until his father fell out with Tinubu, Lawan, the senate president, who has been in the National Assembly for 20 years now, planted someone in the primaries with the hope to take over from him if he loses the APC presidential ticket.

“The instances are innumerable and the reality is that the old politicians are still in the corridor of power,” Onyeyiri said.

Pointing to the direction of all young politicians in the 2023 polls, he insisted that the country needs to retire the remaining old politicians in the National Assembly and cabals across the country if it desires development and peace.

Peter Obi, while speaking on his plans for the country at the retreat in Abuja, assured Nigerians that his administration would not degenerate into making excuses for failures, if elected President in 2023.

Obi, who said that he was fully prepared ahead of the 2023 general election, promised to hit the ground running from the day he is elected into office.

“I know the job of a leader; I have been there therefore, and I am ready to solve problems and not to give excuses,” he said.

He said it would be disappointing for a candidate supported by the organised labour to fail the people.

The Labour Party candidate decried the recurrent industrial action by Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), 12 years after the Federal Government signed agreement with members of the union.

“How much is ASUU asking for that Nigerian government cannot pay since the last 12 years? N1.2 trillion,” Obi said, noting that the revenue which accrued for the country for the month of July alone was enough to settle the union’s demand.

On his experience as Governor of Anambra State, he declared that “I solved these challenges at the small level; I want to solve them now at the larger level.

“The major problem facing Nigeria today is food inflation. We have enough land; the Sambisa forest is three times the size of Israel.

“The more you pull people out of poverty, the more you reduce criminality.

“I have said it before and I will say it again that the vast land in the North is the next crude oil of Nigeria and I am ready to use the land to make Nigeria self sufficient in food production.”

Credibility deficit in other parties will benefit Obi – LP

The Labour Party Spokesman said that the party would profit from the credibility deficit plaguing the APC and PDP, by leveraging on the huge vacuum created in the political landscape to feather its nest by riding on the #Obidient train and ultimately turning its story from obscurity to popularity.

The poll results showed that larger majority of Nigerians have all felt the heavy and volcanic impact of Obi phenomenon that has since a while, largely won the approval and wide support of most Nigerians across the Nation

“Both the APC and PDP had for a long time been busy mortgaging the future of the Nation and Citizens through very much dubious, deceptive insincere, dishonest and incompetence in Governance for should have simply kept quiet and not engage in some naked dances in the market by feigning untenable indignation over a poll that confirms the barometer of public opinion.

The party assured every Nigerian that it is not going to rest on its oars, the party will continue to be more focused on the objective of leading Nigeria and Nigerians out of the immediate past and current totally bad Governance of treasury thieving on to a new Nigeria where sincerity in Governance pillared on integrity, fair play and justice where no man is excluded from the benefits of good governance.

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