Nigerian youths can save Peter Obi’s quest to become President, but only if they realise one thing, writes Ogbuagu Anikwe.

Anambra Governor Chukwuma Soludo claimed the other day that Peter Obi’s investment in Sabmiller is worth “next to nothing.” He followed days later with a long essay where he dismissed Obi as a bumbling Governor and an APGA turncoat.

Expectedly, these claims created a buzz on cyberspace, not least because they were controversial, if not downright false. The public sphere lit up with outrage, glee, and impassioned debates. What could have got the professor’s goat for him to lash out with such unrestrained fury?

Here’s one explanation for Soludo’s anger against Peter Obi in the run up to the 2023 general elections. This is to appreciate the enormous task that Peter Obi set for himself – to dislodge the old guard. Governor Chukwuma Soludo is a protégée of this old guard. It’s no surprise that he teamed up with them for a violent pushback against Obi and the children of change.

This old guard p armed with over half a century of experience in fighting political battles. And a fight it is, as Bola Tinubu said in Jos on Monday.

In June, I wagered that no one knew how this fight will end by the February 2023 vote. As I put it then:

“Naija Republic voters (the youths) should note that millions of Nigerian voters support the old guard. Their support base includes young people like themselves and cuts across ethnic groupings. Thus, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar will secure millions of votes in Southeast, Southwest, and South-South. Similarly, Bola Tinubu will make inroads into the Southeast and the entire North.

Support for the Old Guard

“Supporters of the old guard come better prepared. They have registered and collected their PVCs long before now. And they have the willingness to step out and the patience to wait and vote on election day. They come better motivated because their standard bearers come with deep pockets and are not afraid to offer inducements.”

I concluded that essay thusly:

“Before long, the old guard will launch blistering intellectual and media firepower to blow (the youths) away. Their methods are usually unorthodox, amoral, and amazingly effective, as we saw in 2015 and 2019.

“For instance, their social media army will … provoke massive ethnic fears around Peter Obi. They will wear the youths down. Will the usually impatient youths withstand the media saturation bombing? Will they maintain a stoic patience and remain focused long enough to ride the wave that will splash across their beloved social media shores? These are matters that youths who want to vote … must keep in mind as D-Day approaches.

Only youths can save Peter

The D-Day is here and the onslaught has begun. Progressively, it will sometimes look as if Peter Obi bit more than he can chew on his current quest. And we can expect many more Soludos to join the allied forces on the propaganda blitz. Peter Obi and the youths grapple with opponents that are armed with well-oiled structures and well-heeled fortifications for State capture.

The King Kongs among us overflow with cash and are desperate. They will blow Peter away. Only the youths of Nigeria can save Obi. The youths will succeed if only they realize that this is a battle to the finish.

The battle is half won. Majority of township youths will most likely vote for change. However, majority of youth voters reside in rural areas and need conscientization to appreciate what is at stake. Success will therefore depend on the ability of OBIdients to close this gap between now and February 2023.

The biggest cchallenge is persuading youth in rural areas to connect to the vision and values driving the movement. A second hurdle is the ability to successfully review and challenge INEC’s large-scale voidance of youth voter registrations. Is there a department of the Obi-Datti campaign in charge of PVC mobilization? Those helping registered voters to sort out issues in PVC collections?

All in all, the battle is only beginning. A lot can change in two months to decide whether youths will prevail or it will be business as usual. Which will suit King Kong just right.