More Diaspora Support for Peter Obi
David-Chyddy Eleke writes about the growing support for the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi, by some Nigerians in diaspora who are currently mobilising for his election
Across many states in Nigeria, supporters of the presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, have shown capacity, by mobilizing themselves, both in political marches to rallies, just to dispel the believe that he only has supporters on social media, where no polling unit exists. The physical marches and attendance at rallies have fully dispelled the previous comments that those showing support for the candidate may be few people quartered in a room to post their support for the former governor on social media to make others believe that he was truly popular.
But beyond the support among people in Nigeria, Nigerians living in the Diaspora have mobilized to get Nigerians living in various parts of the world to show support for the Labour Party candidate through donations and even possibly come down to Nigeria during the election to cast their votes for him.
This is championed by a political action committee based in the United States of America, and founded by Nigerian professionals based in the country. The group, Naija We Can, has said it will mobilize 100,000 Nigerians in the diaspora to support the presidential bid of Obi.
Some members of the group who spoke to THISDAY recently have outlined various reasons why they think Obi is the best candidate for the country. They described him as the only frontline candidate who has clarity of mind to decipher the country’s myriads of problems, and also outline clear plans on how to tackle them when he becomes president of the country.
Besides, they have also expressed excitement about Obi’s plan to activate disapora voting when he becomes president, saying such plans will give Nigerians living in disapora a sense of belonging, in taking part in the very critical decision of who becomes president of the country.
A New York FinTech lawyer, Mr Conway Ekpo,
who is also a board member of Naija We Can, in a recent meeting said: “Obi has been described by BBC News as the candidate electrifying young Nigerians and a powerful force ahead of Nigeria’s presidential election next February, who is also energizing voters with messages of prudence and accountability, that are amplified by an army of social media users.
“Naija We Can recently partnered with Columbia University’s Africa Business Club and Black Law Students Association to host Obi in New York for a Conversation on Afro Economics and Government Policy.
The event was hosted at the Midtown Hilton and had over 1,500 guests in attendance. As a U.S. political organization focused on good governance in Nigeria, we seek to empower Nigerians in the diaspora to change our country’s political and economic fortunes through campaign finance and thought leadership”.
Another board member of the group, Dr. Hadiza Osuji, a university educator in New York and non-profit director focused on African immigrant families and communities, expressed her thoughts on the promise of the Labour Party presidential candidate’s plan for diaspora Nigerians to participate in voting process.
She said: “Obi has pledged to ensure that diaspora voting is permitted if elected Nigeria’s president next year. Despite annual calls for its implementation, Nigerians in the diaspora are barred from voting. Naija We Can hopes that this will change if Obi and his running mate, Senator Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed, are elected. We know the road won’t be easy, but we want to do everything we can to help the country by ensuring the right leaders get elected.”
Founder of Naija We Can, Mr Nexus Sea, a litigation and trial partner in New York, during an interview with THISDAY said: “We want to be a part of the new Nigeria. Obi after his visit to us expressed happiness over the support he has received from members of our group. Obi had taken to his Twitter page to thank us for backing our hopes of a better Nigeria by supporting him. He encouraged his 2.4 million followers to join us to impact change by visiting the Naija We Can website; naijawecan.org, where individuals can make donations to his campaign.”
Speaking on how the group can impact on the campaigns, Sea said: “With $20 billion in diaspora home remittances in 2021 alone, Nigerians in the diaspora have contributed to nearly four times the amount of foreign direct investment into the country. Our goal is to help convert the diaspora’s economic power to political might by ensuring that Nigerians in the diaspora have a strong voice in selecting its leaders. Next year’s elections are critical and too important for us to sit on the sidelines.”
He, however, acknowledged that their efforts in crowdsourcing funds for Obi’s campaigns has not been easy, as opposition parties have questioned whether it would be legal for Nigerians in the diaspora to get involved in Nigerian elections.
He said: “Our lawyer, Godson Ugochukwu of the Lagos-based law firm, Fortress Solicitors, has handled that. While Nigerian political parties are barred from receiving funds from outside Nigeria, Nigerians in the diaspora can lawfully make monetary and other contributions to a candidate in an election, provided that the contribution is not more than N50 million.”
The group said presently, it has gotten donors for the campaigns of Obi from Nigerians across the globe.
“From Liverpool, United Kingdom, to Richmond, Texas, Naija We Can’s diaspora donors, have come from across the globe”.
According to founding board member and U.S. trained pharmacist, Everist Njeze, “our goal is to encourage as many small donations as possible, which in the aggregate, could make a substantial difference in the outcome of the upcoming Nigerian elections next year. While donors are free to donate as low as $5 USD, the average donation directed to Obi through Naija We Can currently sits at $169 USD.
“By facilitating individual contributions to political candidates, keeping a register of each individual contribution, and ensuring that the contributions are directed to candidates, and not political parties, Naija We Can, is providing a much-needed service to Nigerians in the diaspora. Naija We Can’s formation is evidence of a politically engaged Nigerian electorate, both at home and abroad, that is eager for change and no longer satisfied with the status quo”..
The group also expressed optimism that Obi can turn around the fortunes of the country.
It, therefore, urged Nigerians to consider their future and put it in the secured hands of one who has shown capacity to manage the country.