New Telegraph

2023 polls, Obi and controversial prophecy

Politics in Nigeria could be righty compared with a theatre of the absurd, going by some of the curious things that have stuck to our politics like a leech. For instance, how do you describe a scenario where the electorate suddenly becomes the beautiful bride only when election is fast approaching? What do you call a situation where politicians suddenly become undertakers to kindness, generosity before voters in order for them to be voted for and only remember the people when their mandate expires? Welcome to Nigerian politics, where deceit plays a crucial role while trying to woo voters in every major election by politicians and political parties and decency is thrown overboard.

The scenario was no different in the 2023 polls, as the leading political parties employed different strategies, which is quite normal to curry votes. However, most worrisome was the religious angle introduced by Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Gregory Obi who employed Christianity, among others, to push his ambition. Not that every political party does not try as much as possible to curry the favour of religious bodies, Obi’s ap-proach, must be condemned by all.. He made it look like a prophetic mandate, and that he was only trying to fulfill all righteousness like every other politician in his mission to the Villa.

The situation became ridiculous when some pulpit merchants began to dish out what they term “the Lord’s choice” for the election and threatened their flocks to vote for a certain candidate else God’s curse will be on them, this was the beginning of a problematic candidacy of Peter Obi. Sadly he failed to see the doom ahead neither did he apply the brakes to his religious and divisive campaign, the deceit from this prophecies gave rise to complacency in his campaign, that made him see himself as the president even before the election.

Throughout his campaign, he clothed himself as a divisive leader, his speeches bore national outlook, but his conduct betrayed him and his recent visit to markets dominated by his tribal men bears testimony to this observation. This, no doubt, showed his lack of depth as history has clearly shown that employing such a tactic was fundamentally flawed in a multi-religious, multi-ethnic nation like Nigeria. The former Anambra State governor ought to have learnt from former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan who went to virtually every major Christian denomination in his quest for a second term. Jonathan was also the guest of several traditional rulers across the country whom he reached out to out of desperation in his eventual misadventure. Despite being a sitting President, he was booted out of office by Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, whom Nigerians voted overwhelming for across the country, a record in our national politics as such has never happened in our contemporary history.

Even the late MKO Abiola, winner of the June 12, 1993 Presidential election and a strong pillar of the Islamic faith never employed religion to win. Abiola’s victory was courtesy of his strength of character, a pan-Nigerian vision, philanthropy and lots more, which made him to defeat his arch rival, the late Ibrahim Tofa of the NRC in his home state of Kano. Though this writer is not dismissing Obi’s impact in the 2023 general elections, as he put up a good showing, winning in 11 states and the FCT, his religious bent was a disservice to his campaign.

The reality today in Nigerian politics is that, for anybody aiming to win the Presidency, he must adopt a pan-Nigeria approach and not ethnic or religious sentiments. This definitely affected the former governor negatively in the North-West, North East and North-Central, which are key to winning the coveted office of President in Nigeria today. Meanwhile, where are those behind the opinion polls which gave victory to Peter Obi in the 2023 general elections? In other climes, such people would be covering their faces in shame after being exposed as latter day dreamers by the outcome of the February 25 elections, even as there was an allegation of bribing some pastors with N2 billion by the Obi camp, which has been denied.

Most of the pollsters who are Obi’s sympathizers gave victory to their candidate, telling Nigerians what they themselves know can never be true, as they lacked empirical evidence to back their claims. Worse still, they have not uttered a word, nor tendered an apology for attempting to pull a wool over the eyes of some unsuspecting Nigerians. Many, including this writer, had posited that Obi could not win the said election as he and the platform on which he ran cannot do the magic in Nigeria of today as presently constituted. Even some of the state chapters of workers, under the aegis of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) had dissociated themselves from his aspiration before the elections. For anybody to win the Presidential election, such person must have a mass appeal cutting across religion and ethnicity in Nigeria.

That was the reason President Muhammadu Buhari’s 12 million votes in the North could not guarantee his victory before he eventually won in 2015. Had President Buhari not reached out to the South through Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, he would not have been able to merge his mega votes in the North with that of the South, to become President. His handshake across the Niger is what he is reaping as President and Commander in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria today and this is well documented in history.

The story is the same when one considers the victory of President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly elections. A cursory look at the outcome of the highly competitive elections shows that, the former Lagos State governor won massively in the twelve states that he won and that was his magic wand in winning the elections. Aside doing well ahead of his peers in terms of demography, Tinubu’s massive votes was the magic that landed him in the Villa. Curiously, he was roundly criticised over the same faith ticket, yet he had a mass appeal in the election, which ultimately gave him victory.

It is on record that he engaged the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Muslim groups and more, without leaving critical stakeholders out of his campaign. Aside Obi’s visit to a few Emirs and other traditional rulers, there is virtually no record of his visiting Muslim groups as a way of promoting his ambition. Meanwhile, it is an open secret that Northern Nigeria, made up of 19 states, is dominated by Muslims.

Worse still, his aspiration was not pan-Nigerian, which made some tag him an Igbo candidate and which was also not helped by the pronouncement of some of his kinsmen. In Lagos, for instance, this is the albatross of the Party, as most elective positions and Party offices are filled by Obi’s kinsmen in a South-West state and which has created the fear of ethnic domination. Therefore, when some LP Chieftains dismissed the idea of having the right structures to win elections, little did they know that they were digging their graves politically.

Umohinyang, social commentator and activist writes from Abuja

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  • Pay journalist well and he will sing your praises.

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