September 28, 2022

BY REGINALD TOBIN
In this country, it is unlikely for a Presidential aspirant who is not running under the two major political parties to be a contender in the election. That person will not even gather massive support in the first place.
The few supporters who may hang around such person may likely be family members, close associates and people who must have been paid to do so.
However, In the build up to the 2023 elections which is not too far from now, things seem to be taking a different turn.
Labour Party’s Presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi seems to be changing the paradigm and bringing a new wave into the Nigerian political arena. His cause is fast gathering momentum.
Obi had first declared his intention to vie for the highest political office in the country under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party. But Obi, in what i call a strategic political calculation quickly resigned from the PDP and joined Labour Party to pursue his ambition, going ahead to clinch the party’s Presidential Ticket. That, I consider a smart move.
Obi knew he stood no chance in the PDP, since his kind of politics does not reckon with that of the party. If you must win the Presidential ticket of the PDP, you must be ready to get involved in the “dollar play,” and it is obvious Obi wasn’t in for such. Hence he looked for another platform to pursue his ambition.
It is evident that Obi’s party, Labour, does not have the required structure or even finance to wrestle the Presidential seat with the big wigs, but Obi’s persona has since elevated and brought upon the party a good number of supporters and volunteers which I believe the party has never had since it’s formation.
Obi’s supporters have completely taken over the social media space. I know elections won’t be conducted on social media anyway. But even out of social media, a good number of Nigerians are also routing for him. They cut across young and old people from different ethnic and religious divides. Obi’s supporters and volunteers are numerous.
It’s true that not all Obi’s supporters are registered voters. While some are, some are not. But if those who wish that he becomes President in 2023 all have their permanent voters cards ready before election, I am sure that the Anambra born Businessman and Politician will do far better than some political analysts have predicted.
Still don’t be surprised if before the election, it turns out that about 90 percent of his supporters are eligible voters, because the rate at which his people troop into INEC registration centers to register and get their PVCs is alarming. I have two persons in my workplace who have registered because they want to vote for him. If there is one thing I know, it is that Obi’s supporters are real and genuine. Anyone in doubt of this is certainly not in touch with reality.
But For Obi, a man who is not willing to throw money around unlike his rivals in other parties to still warm his way into the heart of the masses is striking and surprising. Ideally, that is how it ought to be, but that hasn’t been the case in Nigeria anyway.
Obi alone has formed the most popular third force in Nigeria’s politics in recent times.
But what could be Obi’s selling point? Is it because his region (South East) ideally ought to produce the next President of the country? is it because of his style of politics or his past record in public office and style of governance?
As governor of Anambra State, it is a known fact that Obi managed the state’s resources judiciously and paid more attention to things of value, like education. It is also said that he handed over 75billion naira to his successor, while vacating office after his tenure as governor.
For me, one thing I have seen in him is sincerity. Obi is sincere, even when he speaks, you see it in his words. So far, he is the only aspirant who I feel has better knowledge of reviving the economy through local production and one who will prioritize education. Under Obi, maybe our universities will no longer go on strike. The issues between Federal Government and ASUU may also be a thing of the past.
Personally, I like Obi. I like his politics. I like his person. I like the fact that he doesn’t try to be like other politicians just to win the people over. He tells you he doesn’t share money and he doesn’t. Love him or hate him, it doesn’t change him. He is just himself.
I know very well that Peter Obi’s support base is still growing. Day after day, more people are joining his ship. But, he still has some work to do. Apart from the East where he is most likely to have grassroot support, Obi’s supporters in other geo political zones are mostly found in urban areas. He needs to begin to hit the grassroots. He needs to start building structures for his party around the country, especially the north. He needs to further strengthen his campaign all over the country. He needs to begin work immediately. If he can achieve this, then, his road to victory will not have too many hurdles. I wish him well.
Tobin is a journalist. He can be reached via twitter: @Reginaldtobin2
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