When will overzealous Peter Obi supporters realize he is not an NdIgbo candidate for president and leave him alone? Mr. Obi, from Anambra State, is the Labour Party candidate for the 2023 presidential elections. He has a powerful message that is resonating nationwide, especially among the youth population. And he is gaining nationwide support beyond the youths as well. Now here comes his Igbo support base. Without appreciating their error, misguided supporters maneuver Peter to look like an ethnic champion. They are slowly but surely promoting this image through ill-advised social media rants.
Here is what these folks are missing. Last Saturday, 11 June, I joined a Twitter conversation on how to promote a nationwide community-driven campaign for Mr. Obi. Over 5,000 persons listened in or made contributions to that conversation. A smart young female lawyer who was an important voice in the #endSARS Movement moderated the virtual event. She is not Igbo. But she publicly committed to promoting the idea that Obi placed on the nation’s conversation table.
What is this idea? Obi says he is willing to be a facilitator for Nigerian youths to take back their country from corrupt politicians. In other words, youths should no longer gather in protests where they provide soft targets to enforcers of the powers-that-be. They should promote a political structured that enables them take over power to point Nigeria towards productivity and growth.
Sadness and outrage
I left that Twitter conversation with a mixture of sadness and outrage. I was not angry with the organizers. Neither did I question their motivations for seeking a strategy to achieve their objectives. Like other participants, I gained from listening to experts on political marketing and strategy at the meeting. It was also an opportunity to deepen my understanding of what motivates Nigerian youths. What makes them think Obi is the change vehicle for a country that the world has grown tired of? The overenthusiastic Peter Obi supporters are the problem. They are prancing all over the social media making thoughtless commentaries that show poor understanding of the mission and goals. They neither understand where the youths are coming from nor where Peter Obi is going to with his message.
These misguided relatives provoke fiery social media conversations that hurt rather than help their brother. They conduct themselves as if they suddenly found an Igbo candidate for the 2023 Presidency.
Kindly leave Peter Obi alone because he is NOT the Igbo candidate for the Presidency of Nigeria in 2023. He said so emphatically and from the outset. He is acting on behalf of Nigerian youths looking for how to take back their country from corrupt leadership. Mind you, Obi is not the only candidate selling this youth message. Omowole Sowore is also firing powerfully from another political front in the movement. Kingsley Moghalu was a powerful voice in this alternative political culture gradually gaining momentum in the electioneering space. Sadly, Moghalu’s party shockingly rejected him at the primaries.
The New Nigeria Divide
As someone observed not long ago, Nigeria is now riding on two subcultures. There is the legacy culture of corruption and the innovative, self-reliant youth culture. Let us call them the Federal Republic and the Naija Republic cultures in that order. In the Federal Republic, we kill ourselves in proxy battles for our leaders struggling to share the spoils of power. Their perennial struggles left Nigeria an economic wasteland and a chronic debtor. Today, the Federal Republic uses over 90 percent of what it earns to service debts. It allows over 40 percent of its citizens to live in abject poverty. Managers are unable to arrest soar-away inflation and unemployment which are at record highs. Sadly, it is the youth population that endures the most from a mismanaged economy.
Naija Republic, on the other hand, is the outcome of creativity and innovation that necessity imposed on Nigerian youths. The Naija Republic rules the African FinTech space, accounting for more than a third of its $4billion funding in 2021. The Republic also rules African arts and entertainment through its music and movie industry. Given consistent support and growth, business in Naija Republic should surpass agriculture as biggest contributor to the country’s GDP. The beauty of it is that the Republic embraces and is in fact ruled by the youth population.
The Peter Obi message draws a line between leadership of the Federal Republic and innovation in Naija Republic. The 2023 presidential election pitches them in a titanic battle to determine the future of Nigerian. There are various drivers of the vehicle, but they are moving towards a common destination. Peter Obi, Omowole Sowore, Aisha Yesufu, and millions of Nigerian youths have joined the battle against Federal Republic leaders.
Leave Peter Obi alone!
This battle has absolutely nothing to do with the singular power struggles of the Igbo, Yoruba, and Hausa-Fulani. Consequently, there are two important points to note.
Anyone who wants to join the Naija Republic change movement must speak the language of the patriot. Here is an example. If someone finds it challenging to register to vote at any location in Nigeria, there is something they should not do. They should not jump onto the social media to claim that officials failed to register them because of whey they come from. INEC is not a tribal organisation for the Yoruba, Hausa, and Igbo. It is a Nigerian institution doing its best to promote voter enrolment and participation.
There are options to exercise your preference when the time comes. Among youth voters, Peter Obi and Omowole Sowore represent options to choose from. If you want to vote for any of them, it is important that you know what the youths want to achieve. The promoters will assist to resolve whatever challenges you have when you queue behind them. They will guide you through alternative solutions using the strategies they have designed. Depositing fake news, exaggerations, and rants on the social media will not be effective. What will create an impact is stepping out to vote on election day.
Make no mistake about it. Nigerians of the old school – Igbos, Yorubas, and Hausa-Fulani alike – will turn out to vote for Bola Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar. From each ethnic group, hundreds of thousands will troop out to vote for their preferred candidates between the two. It is also a fact that their voters are better prepared. They already have the PVCs that they obtained a long time ago. Their flagbearers come with deep pockets. They will soon deploy intellectuals, social media influencers and buy media to “wash your brains.” And they will do unorthodox things such as unleashing social media denizens to weaken the resolve of youths with divisive rhetoric.
If you are new voter and do not understand the nature of the coming battle, you will hurt your candidate by promoting him as an ethnic champion, rather than a national leader. This is as true of Peter Obi as it is of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Allow their trained supporters to take the lead in the social media. They have skills, the tools and the creativity to do it. They do not need your tactless postings (rudeness, insults, and other rants) to run their projects for Atiku, Obi, Sowore and Tinubu.
Leave Peter Obi alone, Ndigbo