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Peter Obi and the reignited spirit of nationalism that we must not lose

Peter Obi and the reignited spirit of nationalism that we must not lose
July 05
08:03 2022

BY WALE AMEEN

In a series of tweets on Friday, July 1, a popular Pentecostal pastor, senior pastor and founder of Covenant Christian Centre, Pastor Poju Oyemade, urged the youths not to waste the growing enthusiasm on poorly planned projects.

His tweets and what they indirectly implied was a sour pill for many Nigerians, myself included. Making a reference to the biblical character, Noah, who he said counted the cost of building the ark, spending months and years planning for the flood even while operating in faith, he advised Nigerian youths to count the cost even as Jesus did to Christians, that no man goes to the battle without first counting the cost and taking stock.

According to him: “Faith is not just a blind belief or hoping for a miracle. Faith sees. Faith has her eyes open and possesses the evidence upon which it builds its belief. Faith prepares long, sometimes for years, just as Joseph did for the years of famine. Faith counts the cost before embarking. Without having evidence upon which you are acting, nor preparation for the task, recognising real obstacles that lie ahead and making concrete plans, one is just being delusional about the outcome. The enthusiasm of the youth must not be wasted on poorly planned projects,” he concluded.

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Even though Pastor Poju did not mention anyone, the tweets were seen as being directed at Peter Obi, who has been described in many quarters as a presidential candidate without structure. And understandably so. I personally think it is a wrong take that a clamour and campaign for a Peter Obi candidacy is akin to a waste of energy on poorly planned projects.

The truth is, at the point we stand as a nation, with the rot and directionless leadership we have had in the past 20 years and the continuous recycling of old, tired, and spent hands, it is time Nigeria was given a new lease of life with a fresh mind. A mind that will be a drastic shift from the norm we have come to know and who can bring about a breath of fresh ideas that this nation really needs.

Pastor Poju’s take is a clear reminder to us all that even our spiritual leaders are not always right and do not have the monopoly of knowledge or the revelation of truths from the word. Sometimes they can err. And this demands that everyone search the scriptures and weigh every word against the revealed truths contained in the scriptures.

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For the first time in a long time, young Nigerians appear to have discovered a love for politics and the people who govern them. For the first time, young people, regardless of ethnicity or the spirit of ‘what’s in it for me’, are going all out to drive campaigns in their little corners, encouraging one another to go get their PVCs.

The recent turn of events has revealed that, while the youth, particularly educated millennials and a good number of Gen Zs aptly referred to as the ‘Soro Soke’ generation, have been largely said to be docile and lukewarm when it comes to the electioneering process, the exact opposite is the case. If anything, it has shown us that the passivity among young Nigerians is a direct result of the uninspiring leadership they have been subjected to for a while now.

For the first time in a long time, there is suddenly a reignited spirit of courage and true desire from the younger generation in the electioneering process because this is the first time in a long time that the youth see someone who has a similitude of difference in the entire lineup of presidential flag bearers.

Even though it was later deleted, the statement by Pastor Poju Oyemade that young people should not “waste” their votes on a poorly planned project is, I dare say, a misfired shot.

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Apart from the negligible number of young minds in the political space who have had their conscience seared simply because they profit from the present system, everyone knows that this is one of the worst administrations to have happened to Nigeria.

The naira, for instance, has never witnessed such a free fall in value as it has these past seven years. Nigerians’ purchasing power is eroding on a daily basis while the cost of goods continues to rise. Under President Buhari (whom Pastor Poju backed then in 2015 described as the next best thing to happen to Nigeria), the naira has seen a free fall from N198 to $1 it was exchanged for to N608 to $1 it is currently exchanged for on the black market.

Young Nigerians are daily losing hope in the country, and it appears everyone just wants to ‘japa’. With this, the country continues to lose some of its best brains in an alarming exodus. Aided by a rubber stamp legislative arm of government, Nigeria’s debt has once again gone off the roof under President Buhari. It has grown from $10 billion in 2015 to more than $40 billion in 2022!

The president promised average GDP growth of 10%, but we now barely meet up with a 1% average growth rate. He promised to create millions of jobs every year, but the opposite is the case as Nigeria’s unemployment rate currently stands at 33.3%, the third-highest in the world.

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Insecurity, which happened to be one of the three cardinal promises upon which Buhari rode to become president, is at an all-time high with embarrassing cases of corruption routinely making it to the open among top officials of the administration.

Under his watch, a primitive and outdated herding system currently makes herders lord over others, even on their lands. They are armed with AK-47s even as they herd their cows to destroy farmlands, and should the owners protest, they are hacked down. When these citizens complain, the federal government looks the other way. Nigerians have never had it so bad. The bar of what is expected of our elected officials has been brought so low that even the head of our central bank dared attempt to seek to run for the ruling party’s presidential ticket. In saner climes, such a public official would have been shown the door. But alas, this is Nigeria!

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Will Peter Obi win the coming election? Statistically, and given the picture on the ground at the moment, the reality is no. But the world belongs to dreamers and those who dare question the status quo. History is replete with examples of underdogs who have gone on to pull the carpet off big names even without the so-called touted structure. Without works, faith itself is dead. And for anything to work, the process must be initiated, even if it then takes a while to accomplish.

Even if the only thing a Peter Obi candidacy achieves is a renewed belief in the nation called Nigeria by its youths and the reawakening of the mindset that there is still hope for this country and that things can work, then I think a lot would have been achieved. It may not be a sprint, but the process toward a new Nigeria would have been birthed.

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Truth be told, we may not get it right come 2023, but we will have tried, and that would count for something. If our pastors cannot help and contribute to the growing momentum, the least they can do is to stay out of the way and let the youth run their race.

After all, the #EndSARS protest at the Lekki toll gate has shown that, given the right motivation, Nigerian youths can indeed hold their own. Quite the contrary to what some people say.

Ameen is a Nigerian journalist. He can be reached via [email protected] and on Twitter @wale_ameen



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

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