The Growing Popularity of Peter Obi

The Growing Popularity of Peter Obi

Udora Orizu writes that the nationwide million man march for Labour Party’s Presidential Candidate, Peter Obi, has shown that he’s loved by the youth and represents hope Nigerians yearn for

The growing popularity of the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, among the youth is gathering momentum as the youth in a show of solidarity are holding rallies nationwide to show their support for him.

The general election in Nigeria is scheduled to hold in February 2023, and campaigns as stipulated in Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) timetable have already commenced.

Since the return of democracy in May, 1999, the presidential election has always been a two horse race between the PDP and APC. However the upcoming election appears to have a different scenario with the entrance of Labour Party’s Peter Obi.

Obi who served as two-time Governor of Anambra State between 2006 and 2014 under the platform of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, was the vice-presidential candidate to Atiku Abubakar in 2019.

After loosing to President Muhammadu Buhari, Obi who’s desperate to make Nigeria work again, in March, 2022 declared interest to run for presidency in 2023 under the platform of PDP, a position his former principal Abubakar is also jostling for.

Days before the PDP presidential primaries held on May 28, 2022, Obi defected to Labour Party, and became the presidential candidate of the Party. Since he became LP’s flagbearer for the 2023 presidential poll, Obi has not only popularised the party, the support for him has grown tremendously with many youth pledging to work for his victory.

While some are wondering if Obi can really unseat the two-party consensus that has defined Nigerian politics since 1999, it can be said that much of the growing support for Obi among a cross section of disaffected young people is born out of understandable frustration with the system, specifically the fact that the presidential candidates of the two main political parties, All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are perceived as symbolizing the business as usual brand of politics that has led the country to the brink of economic collapse.

The economic hardship is biting hard, and people are blaming the two major parties for this situation, given that they have ruled the country at various times without improving the standard of living of people, hence the possibility of a third force phenomenon gives many Nigerians hope.

It came as no surprise when recently, the Bloomberg opinion poll favoured Obi, to win the 2023 presidential election. This is following the ANAP/NOI and We2geda poll result released recently which put Obi at 21% and 51% respectively ahead of other competitors.

The results of the survey conducted for Bloomberg News by Premise Data Corp which were published as campaign officially kicked off, showed Obi scoring 72% among those who have decided to vote.

Out of those surveyed, 92% of participants said they had decided how to vote and 72% named Obi as their first choice and of those who are still unsure, 45% said the 61-year-old former governor of Anambra State is their preferred candidate.

The data company which has its headquarters in San Francisco, in the United States, surveyed 3,973 Nigerians from September 5th to 20th  and respondents to the app-based poll were selected from quotas developed by age, gender and location across the country’s six geopolitical zones. Results were then weighted against the original quotas to ensure national representation.

The candidate of APC, Bola Tinubu and that of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, garnered 16% of decided voters and 23% of those yet to make up their minds and 9% and 17% respectively.

Three-quarters of respondents said Nigeria is headed in the wrong direction and a combined 88% listed the economy, jobs, corruption, and security as the most important issues facing their communities. More than 65% named Obi as the candidate best able to improve the economy, tackle corruption and reduce insecurity, while Tinubu ranked second on each measure, ahead of Atiku.

In his 62nd independence message to Nigerians, Obi said many Nigerians were already tired and frustrated with the leadership failure that has continued to burden the country for many years, saying the coming election presents a ray of hope to the people for a new Nigeria if things would be done correctly.

He regretted that at 62, Nigeria has nothing to celebrate but continues to struggle under the weight of corruption, bad governance, insecurity, a worsening economy, abuse of office and all manner of ills.

While not everyone of this vibrant segment support Peter Obi, a major percentage of the youth with the tag “OBIdients” are in vociferous support of the Labour Party’s presidential candidate, as evidenced by a rise in his popularity on social media, especially Twitter and the growing rallies.

In the last three weeks, Obi-dients have held marches for Obi in the northern, southern and middle belt part of the country. Some of the states in which they have held marches include  Lagos, Plateau, Bauchi, Delta, Akwa-Ibom, Edo and Federal Capital Territory.

Also obi-dients in diaspora, especially in London, United Kingdom have held marches in a show of solidarity to him. Each of the marches witnessed mammoth crowd with placards chanting solidarity songs.

During his Jos visit, which was at the instance of  the Middle Belt Forum, Obi hinted of his plan to honour the invitation of the Middle Belt Forum who organised the rally in solidarity with his ambition.

He promised to end insecurity, poverty and unemployment in Nigeria if elected in 2023. The LP candidate, who also promised to address hunger, unemployment and corruption, said  he would promote quality of education at all levels and improve power supply.

His words: “If you elect me as your president,  I will provide security at all levels so that our people can go to farm and by so doing, the issue of food insecurity and hunger will be a thing of the past. We will create jobs for our teeming unemployed youth and end poverty. We will make our educational system functional and improve electricity supply. We will block all leakages and end corruption at all levels; our government will be a responsible one. We will not fail Nigerians.”

For his Abuja rally, thousands of Obi supporters, marched from the Unity Fountain to the Moshood Abiola National Stadium amid heavy security. At the rally alongside the pro-Obi supporters are officers of the Nigeria Police Force and the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC).

The supporters made a statement that Obi and his running mate, Datti Baba-Ahmed, have physical structures beyond social media. The rally attracted huge applause following the appearance of a new couple, Mr. and Mrs. Adamson.

Conference of Peter Obi Grassroots Ambassadors, in a statement said Obi, will win a simple majority vote and also secure the 25 per cent constitutional requirements across at least 24 states of the federation in the 2023 election.

In the statement signed by Hon. Hassan Usman Algungu (National Coordinator), Dr. Gabriel Ayodeji (National Secretary), as well as Hajiya Nana Tukur (Director of Women Mobilisation), the group said: “It has gotten to our notice of lies being peddled by some unscrupulous elements paid to install uncertainty, fear and discouragement targeted at misleading the general public by alleging that our leader, Mr. Peter Obi, can’t secure 25 per cent votes in at least two-thirds of states, as enshrined in the Constitution.

“For us, this amounts to the blatant lie told in the public domain by the same people who know the truth in their hearts that of the three top contenders, Mr. Peter Obi has better chances of winning in more states over and above his counterparts. If the sole aim of this propaganda is not pure mischief and an attempt to swindle the public, since this is a political contest targeted at producing a single winner; wouldn’t it have been wiser to rather keep mute knowing your opponent is on a lane of failure? Peter Obi has set the establishment off balance and they know he is closer to victory than them all.’’

Reacting to the rallies held by the youths on October 1, 2022, Obi said, “Dear OBldients, today will go down in history as a day Nigerians spoke with one united voice; the message is clear and simple – A New Nigeria Is Possible! From Lagos, Bauchi, Benin City, Warri, Osogbo, Kaduna, Uyo, Aba, London, New York and many more.

“OBldients made a bold statement with generally very peaceful rallies. The very young, and old men and women in their millions marched in solidarity and in support of our collective vision of a New Nigeria. I salute Nigerian Youth. I thank you all most sincerely, for your passion, resolve and resiliency. You have shown the world that Nigeria is ready for change, and that the majority are ready to lead the way. Thank you all for the sacrifices. Our labours shall never be in vain and there is no stopping us now.”

The ongoing rallies and overwhelming love and support from the youth has shown that Obi can no longer be dismissed as a social media president but as a force to be reckoned with come 2023 general elections.

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