By: Odozi Nwodozi
Dateline; Saturday 11th February, 2023. Attack zone; Lagos. Objective: Frustrate the ObidientsTBS rally. Aggressor; Emilokan foot soldiers, Victims: Obidients!!!
The above date depicts a charged and frenzied Lagos, on the day the Labour Party Presidential candidate Mr. Peter Obi triumphantly marched through Lagos.
From different parts of the cosmopolitan state people trooped out in their numbers, streets and highways ware covered with long colorful carnivals blaring with loud sound systems. Market traders shutting down their businesses for the day; the city was poised for a political rally that will best be tagged a REVOLUTION. The Peter Obi revolution.
As the days unfold towards the 2023 election, Nigerians were saddled with political choices that are best referred to as “between six and half a dozen”,as the major political parties were saturated with characters whose credentials of public service and personal standards were not of the best grade to pilot the affairs of a country in dare need of good leadership at a time like this. This resulted in a great number of Nigerians not showing interest in the polity, this apathy was further fuelled by the, ping-pong game between the president and the national assembly on the 2022 electoral bill. Nigerians were of the believe that with the existing electoral act, the political class will manipulate the elections to suit their whims.
Joyfully, the hurdle around the rules of the game was cleared on the 22nd of February, 2022 when President Muhammadu Buhari signed the 2022 electoral bill into law. The enactment of the act saw a surge in interest by a greater percentage of the electorate. The common man now saw the forthcoming elections as one that will be determined to a large extent by the masses and not easily manipulated by the fraudulent political buccaneers, who have since the birth of the fourth republic bestrode the polity with the twin impunity ofrigging, and physical intimidation of the electoral process and electorates. This placed the electorate on the pedestal of choice to make out of the plethora of the pretenders and contenders gunning for the top job.
The choices before Nigerians include the former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, and Lagos mega landlord Bola Ahmed Tinubu leading the pack in the two frontline parties of PDP and APC.Not satisfied with this duo, and others who were springing up in some lesser parties, Nigerians clamored for a third force that will take the country out of the wood of socio-economic and political woes which these characters have thrown her.
The prayers of Nigerians got answered onthe 23rd of March, 2022, with the declaration of interest by the former Anambra state governor Mr. Peter Obi, who threw his hat into the ring for the 2023 presidential race. This singular declaration re-calibrated the entire dynamics of the political permutations.
The former PDP Vice-Presidential candidate found himself unsettled amongst the hyenas in the leading opposition party, with governors of his home region (South-East), and a gang of self-centered stalwarts working assiduously to truncate his bid, which was fast metamorphosing into the peoples, bid. But with a momentum transcending into a tsunami , and his acceptability across ethnic religious and regional lines, the man who describes himself as a ”trader” was encouraged to quit the PDP; on the 22nd of May 2022 Obi heed the clarion call and exited the PDP, three days to its presidential primaries.
On quitting the PDP, Obi consulted with some political interests’ most notable being the Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso-led NNPP. The hope of many Nigerians were raised with the possibility of the Obi-Kwankwaso ticket, but that hope was short-lived, as the leadership of the NNPP insisted on producing the senior partner in the proposed merger, a stand that wasn’t comfortable to the teeming electorate who were rooting for an Obi presidency, hence he moved on. Days later, the Obi train berthed in the hitherto dormant Labour Party where he was elected the party’s presidential candidate at the Asaba convention of Monday 30th May, 2022. Since then, the political equation of the Nigerian state has been dramatically changed.
With the 2022 electoral act in place, Nigerians; especially the youth, who have been kept in the gaol of political activities , seized their freedom, saw the light and poured into the streets to celebrate, they were scorned as online multitudes, and they responded by trooping out in their numbers to register as voters.The entire nation felt their evolutionary impact.
The electoral umpire INEC had a hectic time capturing the multitude of young persons and other enthusiasts that came out to register as voters, with a more daunting task at the stage of issuing those that registered with their PVCs. Not forgetting the mischievous INEC staff who concocted excuses to deny many of their PVCs, thereby disenfranchising them.Top of the pack was the INEC REC in-charge of Lagos state Mr. Segun Agbaje, who made it clear that he was at war with a section of the populace in the former capital.
Despite the jaundiced disenfranchisement, an appreciable number of the electorate by the Lagos state REC, the populacewere not dampened as they continue to exhibit enthusiasm on the Obi ticket, not minding the fact that the former Lagos state governor and national leader of the APC was on the ballot paper. The Obidient Movement has seized the Lagos political space despite the intimidation by stakeholders in the traditional and political class on the consequences of towing the route. The atmosphere became more charged with the fixing of the Labour Party campaign rally slated for the Tafawa Balewa Square for Saturday 11th February 2023. BATists, as the Tinubu supporters are known began the conception of plans to truncate or at best disrupt the rally which they see as a direct confrontation in their stronghold. Different devilish plots were hatched, and blood thirsty hounds were unleashed into the streets in the early hours of Saturday
Major roads in and out of the Lagos Island the abode of the TBS were barricaded, and APC loyal thugs went on rampage, attacking anyone found with any insignia of the Labour Party heading towards the venue. From the Epe-Ajah-Lekki end, Badagry-Alaba-Mile Two axis, Abeokuta- Ikeja- Maryland-third Mainland end supporters of Obi were attacked, robbed and inflicted with injuries. Many were brought into the TBS with various degrees of injuries, while vandalized vehicles littered the streets of Lagos. In all these, security operatives stood aloof.
Major markets in Lagos were not left out of the Obi euphoria, as the Obi train had stops in the markets where the people joined in the great march to TBS. It was truly a peoples’ revolution, and the landlord of Lagos lost sleep before during and days after the march.
To crown the triumphant march, an innocent Nigerian boy from Ibadan, Yusuf Alabi, overtook the motorcade, and stopped in front of the truck conveying the man of the moment Peter Obi. Spreading his hands reminiscence of the famous Brazilian statue; Jesus of Rio, he prayed for the people’s president, telling him that his future and that of his generation depends on him. That symbolic action and its accompanying picture still top trends on the internet. The heaven have since answered the prayers of teenager Yusuf.
On the 25th of February, 2023, it will manifest.
But as the final bend towards the 2023 elections are taken, Nigerians from every facets will not be in a hurry to forget that shame of a day and the desperation of the “emilokan” proponents to stop the impeding tsunami from landing in their shores ….try they will, but sure it shall land. A New Nigeria is POssible!
Former President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, FCT Chapter
Journalist, and public affairs analyst , writes from Abuja.