The Obidient Movement no doubts have brought in some form of revolutions in the polity of Nigeria, in what appears to be a natural national mystic. They have become a legion of people with common shared value, and that is simply the identification and support of candidates of appeal.
Bob Nesta Marley’s unforgettable song, natural mystic, readily comes to mind when one evaluates the times and seasons we are in, politically. Indeed, the song, a 1977 classic in his album, Exodus, was one that remains prophetic. It says, “there’s a natural mystic blowing the air … if you listen carefully now, you would hear … things are not the way they used to be … one and all got to face reality now”. Surely, it conveys the current mood of the nation. In the history of Nigeria, there has not been as tense, interesting, fascinating, hilarious, yet intimidating an era as this era. No doubts, the 2023 general elections would remain symbolic for so many reasons. The citizens collective amnesia, complacency, docility, gullibility and many other negative tendencies that used to characterize the political and electioneering dispositions seemed to have given way to much more robust, vibrant and sizzling times and seasons of hyper-political indulgences. So much interesting that the entertainment industry are enjoying cash outs through ingenious creativities in skits, songs and amplified rebroadcasts. Kudos to everyone who have been giving their time in various ways to wake the consciousness of the Nigerian people towards seeing and embracing political participations, as now evident in various quarters. May their labours of patriotism not go in vain in that.
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Why did this political reawakening become necessary and urgent too? In the first place, it has become highly indubitable, that the citizens are having more than they could possibly bear in terms of the extremely poor dividends of democracy, ocassioned by the very inept leadership of various government regimes. In particular, It is evident what governance has turned out in the almost eight years of this regime. The promises of changes which attracted the citizens and thus catapulted the leaders into power surely came in full force, but unfortunately in the reverse direction. The multifarious hardship and pains already biting turned out worse. From a fuel regime of sixty five naira, Nigerians now queue to buy fuel at differential prizes with the lowest still more than triple the price it was at the inception of the regime. Naira exchange catapulted to almost a four digits thing, thus causing untold hardships. The cost of everything sky rocketed, especially given our import dependent nature. What of the woes in the health sector and then our ivory towers that remained closed to students for over eight months in one single strike action. The lamentations are quite innumerable, but not unknown.
Definitely, it is on the back drop of the very terribly bad and worsened situations that it became crystal clear that there’s need for a departure from the old ways of indulgences to political matters, especially as it affects leadership choices. Off course, why would a country of enlightened and avid minds continue to be docile and tolerant in matters that shapes their existence, well-being, and even their generations to come. Allowing the traditional politicians to take charge continuously, when it is very clear that their inclinations are borne out of self-interests as against service, remains self-affliction to the entire citizens. Our politicians have become too comfortable in their thinking that the people are either foolish or voiceless. This no doubts, made it possible for them to see political offices as their birthrights. They fight to remain position forever, as some lawmakers have desired, or ascending or rotating positions perpetually in such manners that make them permanent in government and governance. This is the exact mindset that have made our supposed revered legislative Chambers a retirement ground for Governors after completing two terms, and shamelessly without any good records of service delivery.
Certainly, there is a huge disconnect between our leaders and the people. One wonders why our politicians take glory in seeing the citizens they elated to serve suffer neglects, deprivations, agony and pains. Pure deception and inhuman nature describes them better. Else, how could pensioners, after service to their father land, be subjected to the kind of harrowing experiences we see daily? No wonder, Bob Nesta Marley cried out, as it is now, “So much trouble in the land . . “. How is it that our youths have become so pauperized to the point that cybercrime have become their succour? Why would students be unperturbed about our leadership puzzles when their course durations are not uncertain to be double, with the government paying deaf ears to genuine concerns in the education sector? Is it the civil servants that should be less concerned about who takes the reign of governance when their monthly pay package hardly packages them conveniently for a week, and their future pensions not a surety?
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No doubts, there’s now like never before, an undeniable rationale for the surge and unprecedented deep involvements of the masses in political affairs, as currently being witnessed. Besides the very fact that citizens are tired of the terrible situations in all sectors, there is now a strong awakening of the people to do things differently, having endured to no avail. The past political experiences were shrouded in so much unnecessary sentiments. Political party affiliations were so much pronounced, most times along regional, tribal, and religious lines. This was awful, because it ensured that irrespective of the candidates’ character, competence, capacity and other needed qualities, getting the party tickets became automatic victories, especially by the ruling party. There now seems to be a determination to break the unproductive pattern of such party affiliations. What is playing out currently is a political frenzy across the whole nation and anchored on the strong footing of the Obidient Movement, which has been fueled by the unequivocal acceptance of an individual’s political and leadership style and disposition. And, the man at the center of this political movement that have defied regions, religion, tribes, ethnicity, and to some extent, party affiliations, is none other than Peter Gregory Obi.
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Indeed, Obidient Movement came about because Nigerians found the desired qualities they needed and sought to have in the man Peter Obi. Here’s a man that have redefined politics and leadership in Nigeria. His style of politics is uniquely subtle and without the usual razzmatazz. His level of frugality and prudence endeared him to Nigerians. Never in our history has there been such a person, highly distasteful of transactional politics. He’s so purposeful in governance that his record of service as a two term Governor of Anambra state (Easter Nigeria) recorded firsts in almost all sectors, including security, education, health, development and infrastructures. Still, he remains the only Governor who left unimaginable savings awaiting his predecessor, even without a single debt of salaries, pensions or even contractors. To cap it, he rejected any form of pension for himself, a non conscientious trend that pervades the states in Nigeria. Yet, in all of these, it took his coming out for presidency for these testimonies to become known to the general public, nationally. Conservative indeed, because others were at a point in time, using CNN to tell the world that their state was working. Indeed, those that have something to offer never boasts. He has long become the standard of measuring a desired leader. Thus, it was not difficult for Nigerians to team up, firstly using social media buzz. Interestingly, he’s such a soft sell as the Obidient Movement grew organically without any coercion.
The Obidient Movement no doubts have brought in some form of revolutions in the polity of Nigeria, in what appears to be a natural national mystic. They have become a legion of people with common shared value, and that is simply the identification and support of candidates of appeal. The Obidient Movement focuses mostly on people who possesses the critical attributes of character, credibility, capacity, competence, compassion and commitment. These were the first endearing qualities of Peter Obi. It is also replicated in his Vice Presidential Candidate, Baba Ahmed Datti, hence it became much easier for the duo to cause an unprecedented political tsunami in Nigeria. What followed from their combination left political pundits in great awe. It was a situation that can only be likened to the usual Australian forest fires that regularly defiles measures at curtailing or stopping it. Members of other parties, especially the two big ones, APC and PDP, were quiting in numbers, declaring that they can not remain in darkness. Those who considered their open support risky knew in their hearts that they were Obidients and were in full tactical supports. But, beyond the party men themselves, the Obidients had become so self organized that it had made itself the structures for the campaigns. And truly, the campaigns by Peter Obi was much more powered by the Obidients than the Labour Party. All affiliates of the Obidient Movement were on ground at all nooks and crannies.
Thus, the presidential elections was indeed a redefining moment. It was a judgement day for many, especially the Governors and serving legislators seeking to consolidate on power. At almost every polling boots, the dominance of the Obidients and their overwhelming votes ensured that Peter Obi not only won, but with a landslide. Viral videos of the polling boots situations revealed that a tsunami actually took place, though we now have a situation of convoluted results and an audacious declaration of another as president elect. The complicity of INEC was very visible, as itself knew that the processes were bridged, hence outcome is unacceptable. The chairman was quick at asking the shortchanged parties to go to court, a situation that leaves much to be desired. How could an aspect be penciled out and jettisoned in an election that involved three and happening same day and time? Distorting a process and asking the aggrieved to go to court highly insinuates the obvious fact that the whole actions is a written act being executed as planned. And, we hope that the disquiet in the land over the outcome of the results is not turned into something else. This is where Peter Obi has also proved himself a man of peace, choosing rather to pursue his battle by legal means than by setting the public in disarray through protests. There’s no alternative for peace.
In all, the Obidients must have known now that they are the ultimate employers of the people who lead or govern them, and that it lies in their powers to hire and fire every four years and even before, through recall processes in the case of legislators. The Obidient Movement must remain focused as political change agent. The Obidient Movement is much more bigger than any political party, hence it must not allow itself to be tied to the apron of any, not even Labour Party. In due course, after this period, it should regularly align with credible candidates from across the parties, and not restricted to a single party. No one party have all good people, and none equally have all as bad people. Individual credibility should always count. However, in this current political season, its interest remains to retire all those who have contributed to our woes, especially those from the other two major political parties. As was gladly done in the presidential elections in which almost all the over stayed legislators and Governors wanting to use the legislative arm as a retirement ground were all rejected, it is now the turn of the house of assembly members with no visible results over the years to be thrown out. Importantly, the various stooges being projected by the various outgoing Governors and other God fathers must be stopped. Second term is not a must in our polity and must not be. Never again should Nigerians close their eyes to the deliberate actions of the politicians that undermine their collective well-being. The tsunami must be sustained to bring on board, new people for a fresh start. The Obidients should rest all who have contributed to our poor governance at all levels, for therein starts the new Nigeria we envisaged.
Clement Uwayah, a public affairs commentator, writes from Benin City.
Email: csuwayah@gmail. com