By Nnanke Harry Willie
The phenomenal rise of brand Peter Obi has been shocking, even numbing to the political class. Obi’s political story has presented historians with a great study of the power of character, determination and faith. It is indeed true as explained in Igbo cosmology that if your ‘Chi’ says ‘yea’, and you say ‘yea’, then nothing can stop you from your desired goal.
Some of the most important and precious items and moments come from the most unimaginable sources. If you have ever been to a gold or diamond mine, you will understand it is not the coziest of places but from each mine, you will ultimately extract precious stones which deliver precious values, moments and precious lives to whoever owns them.
Before 2022, no Nigerian could ever have believed that a ‘fringe’ party with ‘no structure’ like Labour Party could be presenting a front-runner for Nigeria’s coveted presidential seat and threaten the two well-entrenched legacy political parties, APC and PDP causing them political migraine that never seems to abate.
After initial dismissals by critics as a mere social media sensation, Peter Obi has leapt onto the realpolitik as he has traversed perhaps more states and locations than each of the other presidential flagbearers. He has also had much more speaking engagements within and outside Nigeria.
He also ‘transposed’ his much-derided online followers from behind their keypads onto the major cities of Nigeria as they carried out hugely successful road walks and street rallies even without prompting. The other candidates must be very green-eyed as they are forced to recognize the hugely organic followership of Peter Obi even as it is also sending shivers down their spines.
As if that is not enough the pollsters started doing what they know best and their results did not bode well for Peter Obi’s opponents.
It all started with the We2Geda Foundation poll on September 17, 2022, which placed Obi ahead of other contenders with 51% of the votes, former Vice President Atiku had 25% and ex-Governor Tinubu with 19%.
Similarly, in September and December 2022, ANAP Foundation/NOI Polls said 23% of voters were in support of Obi, 13% for Tinubu and 10% for Atiku. In the third ANAP poll released on February 15, Obi was ahead with 21% of voters, followed at a distance by Tinubu with 13%, while Atiku and Kwankwaso had 10% and 3% respectively.
On February 7, Lagos-based data company Stears announced that Obi would win with 41% of the votes, ahead of Tinubu (31%) and Atiku (20%) “as long as Nigerians follow through on their stated intent to vote.”
In the same vein, a poll by Bloomberg announced on February 10, declared Obi the preferred choice of the majority of 2,384 (66%) respondents scoring, declaring their support for him while 18% support Tinubu and 10% want Atiku.
Valentine Ozigbo, Obi’s Special Adviser on Technology and Strategic Alliances said the results of the polls mirror the campaign’s internal polling, calling them “a natural outcome” of an inspiring candidacy.
The opposing candidates and parties however are quick to dismiss the polls, alleging one or several pitfalls in their approach towards their data collection, assessment and aggregations as well as interpretations.
Indeed, the PDP’s Director of Strategic Communications and member, Presidential Campaign Council Dele Momodu has said “It’s fantasy of the highest order to suggest Obi will win.” Dismissing the outcome of the pre-election polls tipping Obi to win, Dele Momodu said on Arise TV’s The Morning Show that polls conducted “cannot determine who wins’ because they are solely dependent on smartphone users.
The Obidients as Obi’s boisterous followers have branded themselves however believe that Momodu is denying a reality that is about to be established in a few days.
At least, he didn’t dismiss the results of the polls of smartphone users. It is also on record that Dele Momodu was among the first critics of Peter Obi’s move to the Labour Party as he himself had been a Presidential candidate of the party where his performance was anything but salutary.
Obi is however scoring very high on other indices. He has been able to project himself as a selfless leader, using his time as Anambra governor and citing many examples of how he broke self-deprecating political and civil-service cultures to recalibrate the state’s educational systems and infrastructure leading to very sterling results.
Obi has likewise successfully sold his triple “C” attributes of Character, Capacity and Competence which have been verified.
Obi has established that he has the character of inspiring leadership, incorruptibility, dedication, thoroughness and toughness.
Obi has also proven that he has the capacity to understand the problems and their various dimensions and knows the requisite solutions having personally done extensive case studies of countries and economies that have faced or are facing similar challenges.
Based on his background as a ‘trader’, boardroom guru and successful public administrator Obi has also shown to the Nigerian people that he has the required competence to deliver the desired results and birth a new Nigeria that will be a shining star and source of pride for the black race using his now famous mantra ‘from consumption to production’. He believes that Nigeria is too endowed with human and natural resources to be poor.
Obi says he is also dedicated to the two ‘Ls’ of ‘Listening and Learning’. He believes that a good leader must be willing to listen to the people that he or she serves and be willing to learn from them and others with superior ideas and better solutions. He says he keeps learning by the day and does not believe that a good solution cannot be improved to become a better solution.
Something extra that Peter Obi has going for himself is his disarming charm and endearing personality, this gift comes to the fore even among children and in otherwise ‘unfriendly territories’. This is something some of the other political gladiators can hardly boast of as they carry some huge baggage of ‘haters’ who despise them for their real or perceived roles in the current state of under-development in the country.
On top of all these is the perfect choice of running mate Peter Obi made in Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed. While the two leading legacy parties erupted in crisis over the emergence of their presidential candidates and their choice of deputies, Yusuf Datti’s choice rather received a loud ovation and even celebration from Labour Party faithful and the Obidients.
Yusuf Datti is a renowned economist and educationist and also a former Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Many believe that he completely mirrors the sterling attributes of Peter Obi and is thus an excellent choice.
It also appears that the stars are aligning for an Obi presidency as an unusually cataclysmic crisis has rocked the two legacy parties moving into the presidential election cycle.
First is the intractable PDP infighting between the so-called G5 governors on the one hand and the PDP Chairman and Presidential flagbearer on the other. The fight which started immediately after the party’s primaries remains unresolved a few days before the elections. That is an absolute loss of ‘structure’ for PDP’s Atiku Abubakar with Peter Obi standing in the wings as the major beneficiary.
In the same vein, just a few days before the elections, some APC governors and the party’s flagbearer are locked in a legal battle with Nigeria’s President (of the APC). Their grouse is the president’s well-intentioned bid to stop vote-buying and election rigging through the accumulation and deployment of ‘dirty money’ using the Redesigned Naira’ policy and withdrawal limits. This will probably also, benefit Peter Obi the most.
Undoubtedly, widespread frustration with worsening economic hardship and growing insecurity has propelled Obi’s campaign further than many initially believed was possible. Vote buying is very common in Nigerian elections and usually provides an advantage to better-resourced parties and individuals. Usually, a huge chunk of those monies come from the state treasury and looted funds by politicians and their cohorts. Unfortunately for those who have amassed such ‘arsenal’ in the now outlawed currency, President Buhari says “Not this time”.
Nigeria is on the cusp of a redefining moment. It is a battle between the new generation who have adopted Peter Obi and the old generation who believe in doing political business as usual. Both are desperate. Both are determined. The battle has never been this serious. Where do you belong?
On February 25, Nigerians will decide whether Hurricane Peter Obi will peter out into a tropical storm or rise to a raging category 5 hurricane that will blow out the old Nigeria and birth the new Nigeria that the youth are dreaming of and deserve. After all, they believe that “A New Nigeria is POssible”
Don’t sit on the fence. Don’t stay glued on the spot. Get your PVC and vote for a new Nigeria!
Nnanke is the Audacious Brand Champion