There appears to be an unfolding democratic revolution in Africa’s largest democracy, as Nigeria inches towards the 2023 general election. Some 23 years since the transition from military to civil democratic rule in 1999, the much anticipated dividends of democracy in the form of improved welfare and security for the Nigerian people has remained largely elusive. In addition to the heightened insecurity that has reduced Nigeria to the largest human slaughter slab in Africa, where people are slaughtered daily by the many heavily armed non-state actors, the worsening economic crisis in the country has also pushed the people down the ladder of prosperity to the miserable level of some of the world’s poorest. Essentially, a whole generation of young Nigerians who were born at the dawn of democracy in 1999 have grown up in a country of one of the world’s most traumatized, pauperized and terrorized people.
Any close observer of the Nigerian polity since 1999 would attest to the fact that Nigeria’s political process has degenerated into a criminal franchise of power purchase by the highest bidder for self-service to the detriment of public service. And this degenerate level of the political process has greatly undermined good governance by making democratic leadership recruitment fundamentally undemocratic, thereby deadening democracy in Nigeria to such an extent that it cannot bear fruits in the form of security and welfare for citizens. To put it simply, Nigeria suffers from acute leadership challenge.
It is in recognition this acute leadership challenge that the young people of Nigeria have decided to step away from the sidelines and become active participants in Nigeria’s political process of recruiting the occupier of the highest office in the land, the President. And one man appears to have inspired this epoch-making democratic reawakening among young Nigerians whose dreams, aspirations and career ambitions for a better life have been killed by Nigeria, their beloved country. That man is Peter Obi, billionaire businessman, former governor of Anambra State and the presidential candidate of the Labour Party of Nigeria.
The recent surge in voter registration, particular among the younger generation of Nigerians of voting age across the country, is a clear indication that the young people of Nigeria are now ready to take their destiny in their own hands and start the process of taking back their country from the vagabonds in power. From the thousands of first-time voters among the young and old that are thronging voter registration centres across the country to the many more that are forming crowd-funded support groups for the realization of the aspiration of Peter Obi in the 2023 presidential election, it clear that Nigeria has entered the age of Obimania. And Obimania is set to cause a major but positive disruption in the politics of Nigeria, whose eventual outcome will be difficult to predict.
Obimania has become a movement of the Nigerian people from the North and South, men and women, young and old, Muslim and Christian, atheist and believers that are united in their quest for good democratic governance. And these Nigerians have clearly identified in Peter Obi the leadership needs of a country like Nigeria that is enmeshed in a complex web of complicated existential challenges. And their choice of Obi is easily discernible to discerning. To rescue and rebuild a country that is cash-strapped, debt-burdened, devastated in every part by heightened insecurity and whose borrowed finances are haemorrhaging from the virus of corruption, Peter Obi, with a reputation for incorruptibility, track record of frugal management of public resources and ability to create wealth, stands out of the crowd as possessing the qualities of the leadership needs of post-Buhari Nigeria.
To fix the economy, Obi, a Harvard and Cambridge-educated businessman with a string of successful businesses and a clear understanding of global economics, has pledged to transform Nigeria from a “consumption” to a “productive” economy. Nigerians appear to have trust in his capabilities and believe he is equipped with the requisite knowledge, the right policies and programmes that can indeed transform Nigeria from a consumption economy to a productive one. The trust in Obi was also bolstered when he bolted from the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and his refusal to partake in the auctioning of delegates to the highest bidder. This principled stand of walking away from a criminal enterprise of power purchase for self-service that was the PDP presidential primary, despite having the resources to successfully out-bid his competitors, has cemented Obi’s good intentions of delivery of good governance in the hearts and minds of many Nigerians.
This is why his pledge to transform Nigeria from consumption to a productive economic resonates well with millions of Nigerians that have grown weary of the corrupt and wasteful patronage system that has reduced government to a buffet, which benefits only a miniscule privileged few, and are now seeking to replace good governance as the reward for their political participation. Unfortunately for the PDP, Peter Obi, their rejected stone, has become the cornerstone of the unfolding democratic revolution in Nigeria and he has positioned the Labour Party ahead of his former party as the main challenger of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) going into the 2023 presidential election.
Most importantly, with a security challenge that has both economic and social dimensions, whose containment by the government has been largely hampered by corruption, incompetence and ineptitude, Obi’s frugal management of resources will be needed to stop the haemorrhaging in government’s finances enough to prioritize spending on improving the welfare and equipment for Nigeria’s security services. And in the longer run, a productive and export competitive economy such as Obi envisions will gradually absorb able-bodied men and women into legitimate ventures, away from crime and terrorism.
Trust, not ethnicity or religion, and, most significantly, not money, is the major force driving Obimania in Nigeria on the eve of the 2023 elections. Obi is a tried, tested and trusted public administrator with the right combination of discipline, incorruptibility and knowledge of governance enough to be trusted to lead the reconstruction, rehabilitation and reintegration of Nigeria in the post-Buhari era after a most devastating eight-year misrule.
To take back their beloved Nigeria from the bondage of misrule, many Nigerians seem to trust Peter Obi for the job of the next President of Nigeria.
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From Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti Chairman of National Peace Commission (NPC) and former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalam…