Wednesday, September 27, 2023


‘Obidients’ manufacturing controversy of over-passion

‘Obidients’ manufacturing controversy of over-passion
May 06
14:26 2023


In every election, or in fact any competition anywhere, the losers are bound to be disappointed. It is a very natural human tendency. Losing election to offices is akin to getting to the final of any major sporting competition like football’s European Champions League or the World Cup and then lose out. For all the prior hard work to just come unstuck in a day will certainly grate. But then, like they say, ‘it is what it is,’ only one person or team can take the trophy of a particular competition. And the earlier contenders for prizes realized this the better. Life itself is generally a system of win some, lose some. This reality however seems to be lost on the leadership as well as the rank and file of the Labour party in Nigeria, regarding the recent presidential election.

Their Vice-Presidential candidate of the party, Mr Datti Baba-Ahmed, had brazenly declared that the president-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) must not be sworn in on May 29th as expected, ‘or that will be ending democracy.’ He added that the certificate of return presented to Tinubu by INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu is a ‘dud.’ His gripe is borne out of  a structurally weak clause in the constitution, that is awaiting its day of interpretation at the country’s supreme court anyway. This highly unfortunate statement is detrimental to the peace, unity and progress in a country the is already bedevilled by a number of peculiar social-economic woes.

Datti’s incendiary call is yet another instance of similarly misjudged, misguided and largely unsubstantiated, inflammatory vituperations by many over-passionate Obidients — as the supporters of Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of Labour party are fondly called.


Another ‘Obidient,’ a hitherto unknown Mr Okafor Ibe, a businessman from Anambra state, recently delayed an Ibom Airline plane flying Abuja to Lagos from take-off. The unruly passenger threatened that Tinubu must not be sworn In. He had to be forcefully removed by airport security agents. As he was bundled out, he kicked and yelled like a petulant child, shouting to imaginary ‘Obidients’ to come to his aid. One can only imagine how catastrophic things could have turned if the man had carried out his outbursts violently and mid-air.

Similarly, online mediums are replete with Obedients invoking  abysmal hatred against their country-just because Obi lost an election many of them had placed their bottom dollars on that he would win. The soundness of that judgement, in the first place is seriously debatable if not laughable. It ran against all reasonable political permutations in Nigeria of today. The most ardent but dispassionate Obi supporter should have known better.

Yet again, another Obedient, US based Nigerian renowned writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, wrote an open letter  to President Joe Biden of the US  in The Atlantic, titled, ‘Nigeria’s Hollow Democracy,’ wherein she picked issues with US State Department for congratulating the declared president-elect in Nigeria, Mr Tinubu. Armed with no shred of evidence at all or only negligible ones at best, she lamented that the election result was compromised against her candidate. Adichie, albeit had tried to appear non-partisan in her letter but in a subsequent interview on Nigerian Arise TV station, she gave the game away as another over-passionate Obi supporter. Hence, a better understanding of  the trajectory of her angry letter to Biden.


In her interview with Arise TV, Adichie lamented that INEC chairman, professor Yakubu had ‘an opportunity for heroism,’ but added, ‘I think he wasted it spectacularly.’  ‘Because he could very easily have become the hero of not just Nigerians but Africa, because so many Africans were watching and they were so inspired by what happened before this election.., the Obedient movement,’ she said. One wonders by what yardstick Ms Adichie knew many Nigerians and in fact African(s) were so inspired by the Obedient movement. Pray, if this woman was not partial, why was she making complimentary reference to ‘the Obedient movement’ as the paragon of excellence and not any other party movement, like the ‘Atikulated’ of Atiku Abubakar’s Peoples’ Democratic Party for instance. It was therefore a clear partisan venom she spewed in her letter to Biden. Unbridled and naked bias!

This bitter narratives of the Obidients isn’t very surprising.  Even right from before the election, many Labour party  hotheads have demonstrated their over the top passion, by brazen campaign of calumny against the person of Senator Tinubu. They peddled relentless rumours that Tinubu was too sick to contest or rule. Denigrating, doctored photographs of the APC candidate in soiled pants, suggesting incontinence, made the rounds on the Internet. To these category of Obidients. It was a do-or-die matter for Peter Obi to win. The much vilified would be president-elect nevertheless went on to complete barnstorming campaigns in all the 36 States of the country and Abuja, without any incident! Some Obedients army also claimed Tinubu was simply too old for the top job. Their candidate too, Obi, isn’t a youngster either anyway at 61. These over-passionate Obidients simply got their reasoning about age and competence beclouded. Joe Biden is 80 and managing the most powerful country on the planet. History also recalls elderly folks who became invaluable leaders to their countries: General Charles De Gaulle of France, Golda Meir of Israel, Konrad Adenauer of Germany, to mention a few. A Yoruba proverb also corroborates that. “bi omode ba ni aso bi agba, ko le ni akisa bi agba.” Literally meaning if a young child by any chance has as much clothes as an elderly man, he couldn’t have amassed as many rags as the elderly one.” In other words, nothing trumps the wisdom and experience of the elderly in any society.

This subset of the Obidients, intoxicated with an Obi-must-win mentality were further buoyed by certain polls, assuring that their candidate was coasting to a landslide victory. Such polls were obviously unreliable because of their dodgy samples. No one uses the sample taken in just a locality of a country and passes it as reflective of the whole country’s thinking. And by the way, even if the samples were reliable, who still doesn’t know that polls are not to believed one hundred per cent anymore, especially since Donald Trump’s titanic upstaging of the super favourite, Hillary Clinton in the US’s 2016 election.

In another reminiscence of the America’s election, as Donald Trump baselessly allege that 2020 election was rigged against him, making his gullible supporters buy the ruse; the Obidients too are shouting on the rooftops, that the election was stolen from them. Their claim is as risible as Donald Trump’s.


Many Labour Party supporters hinged their vote irregularities claim on the fact that INEC did not upload the results to its official portal, the IReV in real time ‘as promised by INEC’ prior to the election. INEC blamed technical hitches but what’s important is that no polling agent(s) or perhaps an insignificant number of them has come forward to claim discrepancy between the results collated on the field and the one eventually announced as well as posted on the IReV.  Also, although not encouraging, pockets of vote irregularities were reported around the country. This nevertheless were also reported even in the Obidients’ heartlands; wherein social media accounts saw stalwarts intimidating opposing voters. Like INEC rightly said these few incidents are too immaterial to warrant invalidating the whole vote.

Hence, the continued rabble-rousing by many of Peter Obi supporters, charging the political atmosphere unnecessarily, makes one see the need to point out to them some unassailable facts against their cause; that they seem oblivious of or are conveniently ignoring.

Firstly is that their party, which had been in existence for years but largely anonymous until this recent election, came THIRD in the nationwide polls’ tally-not even second! In the 2019 presidential  election by the way, Labour party got a whopping 5,000 votes, throughout the whole country-wherein millions of votes were cast! That wasn’t the party to win the whole country in just the next election-perhaps in the future. So it really boggles the mind that a party that came a distant third in an election is attempting to stifle the jugular of the nation with such a reckless abandon-even over the party that came second. What an irony! The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which came second (though it claims grievance too) but is using a much more dignified approach to this. There are procedures for adjudication, at the courts, where the aggrieved parties have lodged their cases. And no one can begrudge anyone this constitutional right but the Obidients now have to wait and let the law take its course at the judicial level, rather than holding the country to ransom as they currently do with their divisive, crying foul.

Secondly and very importantly, while there is no gainsaying that Obi ran an incredible campaign, with flashes of brilliance here and there but sadly, his popularity didn’t cut across the vast swathes of the entire country-a fundamental factor to winning such an election! (Someone else who managed that brilliantly was the late MKO Abiola in the famous June 12, 1993 election). As much as the Obidients may not like it, there are Nigerian states, where Peter Obi, unlike any of his fellow contestants, scored very abysmally low votes. In Zamfara for instance, he scored a paltry 1,660 votes, a meagre 0.3% in a state where about 500,000 votes were up for grabs! And another slight 1,889 in Jigawa, a mere 0.2%, where about 800,000 votes were eventually cast. Similar woeful counts were recorded for him in many core Northern states like Sokoto, Borno, Yobe, and Katsina states; among other not so impressive results in that region of the country.  Let’s do away with euphemisms now, Peter Obi was largely unpopular in large areas of the Northern states of Nigeria- a kind of persona non grata. Any elementary permutations should reveal that a candidate will need the support of at least two major regions of the country’s three, to win the majority votes across the country-the first part of the criteria to win a presidential election in Nigeria- and by extension, to enhance scaling the second hurdle of winning at least 25% of the votes in 2/3 of the 36 states plus/and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.


The current president, Muhammadu Buhari, during his time in The Congress for Progressives change ( CPC), repeatedly failed (three times) in his quest for the presidency of Nigeria. Yes, Buhari was failing successfully and freely, languishing in that political abyss until he got the right party configuration and the right alliances behind him in 2015 and also 2019. The workable alliance in APC garnered him the support of majority of the Northern region voters and those of the South West.  By contrast, Labour Party and Peter Obi didn’t have the same type of formidable, workable alliance in place that couldn’t have nicked them the presidency.  In fact, Peter Obi was an eleventh hour defector from the PDP, the main opposition party. He was in fact their vice-presidential candidate in the 2019 election. Peter Obi only left for Labour Party a few months to the election, just because he couldn’t secure the PDP presidential ticket. From there on, he had his works cut out for him, even though he ended up performing much better than many people had expected!

Hence, getting the arrangement right and on time, is not a walk in the park. This is where many of Tinubu’s opponents made the mistake of not realising that he is a highly deft and an accomplished political strategist! A master of the game. A bulldozer (like his moniker) the Jagaban, who against many high-profile, daunting orchestrated obstacles in his way still overcame.


In the latest election, Obi under the banner of Labour party was only majorly on a roll in the Eastern part of the country. That was because of Obi’s clout, as an  individual (not the party), with some stellar campaign performances, got many more adherents to his brand; enabling him to win a handful of more states outside of his native Eastern part of the country; notably in Lagos, Nasarawa, Plateau and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory. But sadly this wasn’t enough as the criteria to win, according to the constitution, involve winning the overall majority of votes cast across the country as well as at least 25% of votes cast in two-third of the country  (24 states ) and Abuja.

Here, Mr Datti Baba-Ahmed’s erudite claim over section 134 comes to the fore. Yes. Labour party won Abuja by 59%, (a victory credited them still by the same INEC they accused of rigging the election against them). However, as Baba-Ahmed and fellow-travellers want to believe, does winning Abuja and the handful of other states they did, make them fulfil the condition to win the election? The ‘wining Abuja’ bit of the constitution, even according to common sense, is in fact the junior partner of the two-edged condition of the section 134, Subsection 2 of the 1999 constitution. Or is Datti Baba-Ahmed and the other belligerent Obidients suggesting their more votes in Abuja should now trump the wishes of the majority of the electorates in the rest parts of the country who didn’t  vote them? That Abuja clause in section 134, as well intentioned as the architects of it may have been (as a supposed hub of people from all parts of the country); it is nevertheless a clear constitutional misadventure, with the tendency to torpedo the wishes of more Nigerians outside of Abuja. To uphold the condition of subsection 2, will be a draconian, travesty of justice and equity.


But worse still, the Labour party supporters are apparently now pushing their luck, by causing so much disaffection in the Nigerian society via their relentless narratives that the elections results were compromised against them. For crying out loud, any painstaking and dispassionate assessment of the Nigerian peculiar political environment would have shown to anyone that the Labour party wasn’t going to win 25% percent of votes in about 25 states of the country nor the presidency! Not even the most optimistic supporter of Obi and the Labour party could have wagered that.

Though it isn’t something to be proud of but it is still what it is. Nigeria is still inherently divided along, ethnic, cultural and religious lines. As such, the calculation towards winning the highest office in the land must be meticulously planned, in almost an infallible manner or an unwary candidate would end up with a well-bruised nose.


Of the three major regions of the country, according to the latest data, the North still has the most registered voters and it is predominantly Muslim. So it doesn’t look very feasible that Mr Peter Obi, a Christian (his name screams it) will miraculously sweep all these vast Muslim votes in this place. The only ameliorating ground to circumvent this hurdle as a Christian, is to pick a strong Muslim, running mate from the North. But apparently, Mr Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed did not meet that criteria. He even lost his own poling unit in Kaduna State to the PDP. Furthermore, Peter Obi isn’t going to coast to any significant victory in the South West (Tinubu’s homeland and ethnic stronghold). Comparatively, Obi as well had unprecedented landslides in his native South East. He had hitherto unheard of high radio wins; 93.59% in Anambra and 93.91% in Enugu.

In Tinubu’s case (the eventual winner) his permutations meant he regarded the votes in his native South West as a given as well as bank on votes in the Northern region because he is also a Muslim-his full names are Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Beyond this, from historical perspectives, though regrettable and not worthy of edification, there are other ‘no love lost’ tendencies between certain regions of Nigeria, wherein anyone can predict where there may not be torrents of votes from one to the other. Hence, the pattern of voting in Nigeria is congenitally complex but largely predictable at the same time- except in perhaps certain exceptional circumstances where different intervening variables may alter the calculations and result.

Hence, the Obedients strident and vociferous cry of rigging against them is largely a fallacy, just cause disaffection in the country. By the way, the same INEC recorded victories for them in the FCT, Nasarawa, Plateau, Edo states, and even Tinubu’s domain, Lagos state! Why didn’t INEC rig against the Labour party in these unexpected states they won? Perhaps rigging suddenly became impracticable for INEC in these states, where Obi had won against all odds! It is simply like the case of it is fine when decisions favour them but they scream blue murder with all the sinews in their body when it is otherwise. What sense of entitlement, a slap in the face of decency and good spirit of sportsmanship. The ever belligerent Obedients army need to be reminded that passion alone don’t win elections, numbers do. Hence, they need to sheath their sword, end their disruptive drums of war and let the country move forward!

We have a president-elect in Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a seasoned  administrator with bags of experience under his belt. He is a democracy enthusiast and fighter. One of those who from the trenches of NADECO, frontally confronted the tone-defeat, democracy-scuttling and repressing General Sani Abacha. Many of his starry eyed opponents of today didn’t know how immensely Tinubu has paid his dues to Nigerian democracy.

He later became a two-timed governor of Lagos state and later a senator. As a governor in Lagos state, he rejuvenated the economy of the state to seismic growth proportions. He pretty much laid the foundation of the financial success the state in enjoying now. There are reports that if Lagos were a country on its own, it will now be the 5th largest economy in Africa!

As we look forward to the inauguration of the president-elect, all major parties in the election,  other stake holders and all Nigerians need now come together to support the president-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a seasoned administrator, who should also do well to form a government of national unity- incorporating talents from across all the parties’ spectrum-so the country can move forward to much needed development.

Okinbaloye is a London-based freelance journalist.

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


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