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Obidient Movement gives PDP, APC cause to worry about 2023 election

Obidient Movement gives PDP, APC cause to worry about 2023 election
September 21
15:18 2022

In a truly democratic setting, the result of an election may not be as important as the process that produced it. A time, there was, in this country when the result of an election is almost always known before the election took place. There was no two-way about it; the result always goes the way of the ruling party. The ruling party, in the configuration of the Nigerian electoral system, enjoys a heavy dose of advantage, powered by its incumbency. The balance of the “means of gratification” tilts more in their favour, than it is, to the opposition parties. So, that gives politicians on that side of the divide a massive measure of audacity to believe that, the “next election” is theirs to lose.

There was a joke, told some years back, hypothetically, involving three nationals – a Japanese, an American, and a Nigerian. The story goes thus: The Japanese reportedly said, “in my country, we’re so advanced that, if an election is conducted today, at latest by tomorrow, the result would be known”. The American then said, “my country has attained such a technological height that, as the election is ongoing, the result is being made known, at the same time”. The Nigerian in the conversation was said to have chuckled and said, “look, guys, in my country, the result is known before the election is conducted”.

Fabulous as the story is, it seemed to be the reality of our electoral system, the pre-Jega era when there has, arguably, been some measure of improvement. A former chairman of the then ruling party, the PDP, Vincent Ogbulafor, in 2008, boasted about the party’s capability to remain in power for as long as God-knows, that he, out of modesty said, the party would rule “Nigeria, for the next 60 years”. Such was the level of power arrogance, associated with politicians who belong to the ruling party at any level in Nigeria.

Although it would be preposterous to say that it (non-credibility of the electoral system) has been totally eradicated in Nigeria, we certainly had made some progress from when we used to have the total number of votes quadrupling the total number of people who actually registered to vote. That “wuru-wuru” system of election, which was much more pronounced under Professor Maurice Iwu, as the head of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) continued to irrigate the arrogance of the two major political parties – the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) that have now tasted power at the highest level – the presidency. This makes them believe that whoever clinches their party’s ticket is about 75% sure of becoming the president and the commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the federal republic of Nigeria.

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That explains the recent disregard for ethnoreligious balancing in the presidential ticket of the two major political parties, the PDP and the APC. The disregards are scaffolded on these erroneous beliefs by the two parties. After all, one can hardly distinguish between the two parties in terms of membership composition because except for a very few of the current crop of politicians like Buhari, Tinubu, Wike, and a couple of others, every member of the APC had at one time or the other, been a member of the PDP and vice versa. So, PDP ignored the unwritten code of rotation between the north and the south and the idea of a northern Fulani man succeeding another as the president after eight uninterrupted years and thinks there would be no sociopolitical, or electoral consequence, in their own estimations, by choosing Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as its candidate.

The same goes for the ruling APC, who believe that their insinuation of a dearth of northern Christians with the needed competence and the political clout to get the numbers, needed to clinch the ultimate prize, which forms the basis of their choice of a Muslim-Muslim ticket remains the shrewdest of political moves. But the emergence of Peter Obi, a former governor of the southeastern state of Anambra, running on the platform of the Labour Party (LP) with his legion of online supporters, called, “the Obidients”, has proven to be a game changer as it sends jitters down the spines of the political clans known on social media as Atikulators for Atiku Abubakar, and BATists for Bola Ahmed Tinubu of PDP and APC respectively. Please do not get me wrong; this piece is neither absolving the Labour Party’s ticket of geopolitical insensitivity nor endorsing the candidature of Peter Obi. This is because the LP does not see anybody, either from the north-east or north-central extraction as deserving of its vice presidential slot.

Meanwhile, these are two of the three geopolitical zones in the north that has never produced more than the vice president (Atiku Abubakar) since 1999. Almost everything presidency in the region has always been from the north-west yet the party’s honchos did not have that presence of mind to consider someone from the two most marginalised northern geopolitical zones. It, instead, settled for someone from Kaduna, a northwestern state. Beyond the above-cited ethnoreligious permutations, however, the emergence of candidate Peter Obi and his army of supporters has spiced up the dish of political entertainment,as the 2023 general election approaches. Aside from providing an additional democratic alternative, it has also broadened the scope of debates beyond the two-way blame-trading for which the ruling APC and the opposition PDP are legendarily known. Obi’s emergence is a kind of rebellion against the monetised electoral process which birthed the mantra of: “We No Dey Give Shishi” which simply means, “We don’t give a dime” (we won’t be involved in vote-buying). That, no doubt, resonates with some folks who are tired of the political process being hijacked by money bags and they took it up from there. They have set the social media agog, with their own brand of advocacy for support for the movement – “Obidients”.

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So far, in cyberspace, it’s been a kind of “balance of terror”, in terms of trolling and bullying, among the three groups, in three-way traffic. The more, the merrier, as far as we, the politically neutral Nigerians, are concerned. Some people have questioned the alleged aggressive mode of engagement by the Obidients, saying their tendency to resort to name-calling, whenever they come across anybody who sees things differently from their point of view, is unparalleled. Let me state, without any fear of equivocation that, there is no negative trait anyone identifies in “the Obidients”, that is not found in either, “the Atikulators” or “the BATists”. It is a case of a troll, who’s being out-trolled, or a bully, being out-bullied, complaining. You may describe it as “pot, calling kettle black” if you like. It is a case of “One-One-Goalless-Draw”, as we used to say, in local parlance.

Nigerians should, at least, be glad that a challenger, in the shape of the Obidients, has arrived to give the two major parties something to worry about, some food for thought, more reasons to be anthropocentric in their politicking, more reasons to respect the Nigerian voter, more reasons to be humble in victory and gallant in defeat. Something that gives them a cause to consider a shift in paradigm as it affects reducing campaign to sharing of “Stomach Infrastructure” – apologies to a former governor of Ekiti state, Ayodele Fayose. Before now, instead of telling Nigerians how they would stop the importation of refined petroleum products or telling Nigerians how they would reduce the current hyperinflation, and shore up the value of the naira against the dollar and other major foreign currencies in the world, how they would fix the pothole-ridden Nigerian roads to make it more “motor-deserving” (motorable), and how they would make it safer for people to travel without any fear of being kidnapped, how electricity supply would be more regular with every Nigerian guaranteed at least six hours of daily power supply or telling Nigerians how being diagnosed of cancer or cardiovascular diseases would not be tantamount to being handed a death sentence, they would be busy showing us manipulated videos (of political opponents dozing away at a political meeting) and pictures of world leaders who had, at one time or the other, been found sleeping at events.

They would be showing us graphics, documentaries, statistics, and other things that are grossly irrelevant to how to better the current socioeconomic situation of the common man, out there, on the street. They would be busy showing us foreign pictures of a protesting crowd to create the impression that their respective candidates are the most popular with the masses. But the parties’ honchos appear more concerned, now, about the reality of the threat that “the Obidients” constitute to the status quo. Nowadays, none of the parties’ chieftains talks about 2023 without making mention of Peter Obi as a factor.

It is only unfortunate that Candidate Musa Kwakwanso of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) is a man who desperately wants to be in power but has not convinced himself whether to go for it, headlong, or remain a regional power-broker to be settled after the election with appointments of stooges, and cronies, into political offices. Had he been very decisive on what he intends to do, how to go about it, and thrown his hat into the ring, it would have been merrier and better than this. Remember, the more, the merrier.

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Imagine a Kwakwansiyya crowd, whether online or in real life, being in the mix doing as much as the “Obidients” are currently doing. With just Peter Obi, nevertheless, I think the Obidients are more than a handful for the Atikulators, and the BATists. And that is in the best interest of our political development as a nation as they have given the two major political parties and their presidential candidates, something more to chew on.

Abubakar writes from Ilorin. He can be reached via 08051388285 or [email protected]



Views expressed by contributors are strictly personal and not of TheCable.

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