Day traders, artisans, others abandoned wares for ‘hurricane’ Obi in Edo

March 16, 2023: They jubilated, beamed at him with admiration, raised their hands in unison as they danced, marched alongside his convoy and uttered his name, Obi! Inspired by his strength of character and efforts to make a new Nigeria possible, the relentless Nigerians left their respective businesses of the day and followed the man of the hour.

Undaunted with the outcome of the presidential election, the people gave him a rousing welcome with endless chants of Obi, our president! And all he did was to wave back at the cheering crowd and flash a winning smile indicating, “we won the election and we will prove it.”

The visit of the Labour Party’s presidential candidate to Edo State wasn’t entirely a campaign to woo voters ahead the March 18 house of assembly election but a “thank you” visit he embarked on barely two weeks after the February 25 poll.

From the streets of Mission Road, New Benin Market among other roads in Benin metropolis, it was profound love. Edo residents, including passers-by, hawkers, shop owners, commercial bus drivers as well as private vehicle owners stood in awe and gazed in amazement at their newfound love.

On Saturday, March 11, 2023, many inhabitants were eager to hold on to their regarded Nigerian messiah while others who couldn’t come close stood in front of their shops just to get a glimpse of the 61-year-old man that unsettled the nation’s political turf. It was all reminiscent of the biblical woman who had a continuous flow of blood and had faith that when she touches the hem of Jesus Christ’s garment she will be healed.

“The Obidient movement is one that has come to stay and has reawaken the consciousness of Nigerians. It has shown that gone are those days when those feeding on our wealth will still retain the force to decide elections. Peter Obi may not have been declared winner of the election, but his name will remain indelible in the annals of Nigeria’s democratic journey, ” Gabriel Efosa, a young male Benin resident, who is keen on retrieving Nigeria, said.

During his visit to Edo State, the former Anambra State governor said a new movement has begun which no one can stop, and promised that the party would organise a retreat for the winners of the national assembly elections and those who will emerge victorious in the forthcoming elections so that they can do things differently and change the political narratives of the country.

“Nigeria must not be allowed to remain the way it is, there must be a paradigm shift for a better and a prosperous Nigeria. We have begun the journey of a new Nigeria and nobody will stop it, we will not allow Nigeria to remain the way it is,” Obi said.

“I am here to thank you for the feat recorded in the February 25 election. We will vote for labour party come March 18.”

Matthew Edaghese, a legal practitioner, described the last Saturday’s visit by the LP’s presidential standard-bearer and the accompanying crowd that roused many residents as the true meaning of legitimacy and endorsement by the electorate.

According to him, “the truth is that the people know whom they elected and they know the kind of leader they want. The body language and the expression of the people were very audible to the deaf that they wanted a departure from the old way and Obi represented the vision of a new Nigerian leadership.

“Do not forget before the election that the pre-election polls conducted pointed to the direction that Peter Obi will win with a wide margin. Though the opposition said it was fabricated but it turned out to be exactly the situation. Despite the manipulation and suppression of votes and outright disruption of ballot votes for Obi, he still won. You see how he triumphed in Lagos among other states and that shows the depth of love Nigerians have for him across the states of federation and across religious divides.

“Obi’s votes did not come from one political party. People voted for him across party lines and that is why people are saying that the pronouncement by INEC is an irony. It is paradoxical that the people are not celebrating INEC’s pronouncement, instead they are celebrating the one INEC pronounced against. That shows they know who they voted and they are not in agreement with who INEC has pronounced as the winner.

“What that means is that the people are supposed to chose their leaders and leadership should not be imposed by dubious means and questionable processes. We all witnessed what happened on Saturday, February 25, when Nigerians massively came out with so much enthusiasm and high expectations to elect their leader. They were expecting nothing short from a free, fair and credible election but it turned out not to be,” Edaghese said.


He further added: “INEC promised to abide by the electoral act and their own regulations in conducting the election only for them to turn around and abandon all the processes. They reverted to the negative, manual compilation and computation of results as against the uploading of the polling units result in their INEC portal. All these made room for subversion of the will of the people as expressed through the ballot.

“At the polling unit, everybody knows who lost and who won. They know the number of votes scored by each candidate; it is not just the party agent, I am talking about the entire people who witnessed the voting processes in every polling units. What we saw in Benin City, when Obi visited, was a reflection of the true mood of the people and their preferences.

“They see Obi as the president-elect and what I will call the people’s president as opposed to the one that INEC is trying to manipulate. The results are in the hands of all Nigerians as opposed to what INEC eventually pronounced in some states. All these were orchestrated to superimposed a candidate on the people of Nigeria as against what emanated from a free and fair process. Nigerians know who they elected and they are conscious of that reality,” he noted.

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