Nigeria is in dire need of a change of fortune! Asides from the economic travails that have marred the country’s progress, the country is as divided as ever. This division cuts across tribal, ethnic, religious, ideological and political tenets. That is why every progressive Nigerian will want things to be done differently. Nigeria’s return to democracy was predicted to be the dawn of the country’s progress. Alas, we were lied to! Things appear to have gone sour since then. The Nigerian populace however has a chance to change the tides in 2023. Barely 8 months to this day.
For keen observers of the Nigerian political space, the political apathy that has characterised Nigeria’s election since 1999 seems to have met its waterloo. It is not all bed of roses yet but the silver lining is that more Nigerians will participate in next year’s election. Nothing sweets my belly than that! Now is the time for that formidable third force to challenge the ruling party and the main opposition. Interestingly, there are quite a number of candidates who have become popular with the Nigerian youths. Omoyele Sowore, Kingsley Moghalu and the new bride of Nigerian social media users, Peter Obi.
One important ingredient to producing a democratic country is the availability of options. The 2015 general election that gave birth to the present-day government was painted with the recurrence of the lexeme “two evils”. Nigerians were convinced to go with a lesser evil and that resulted in the emergence of the All Progressives Congress presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.). Like pre-marital promises that are not always met, the sweet-sounding manifestoes of the party were left on paper. It was just a means to take over power after all.
As the 2023 general election approaches, there are new players with similar rhetoric of promising a better future – a Mecca of some sort. Some have even promised to change the tides in 4 years! We are not new to these promises but we can still be swayed by them. That is why I’m sceptical of the recent swagger and noise surrounding former Anambra state governor, Peter Obi. No doubt, Peter Obi’s public outings and interviews are enough to sweep any listener off their feet. He appears to know what he wants to do. He is always quick to tell Nigerians the what and how of his plans. Like the APC in 2015, Peter Obi has made some mouth-watering promises. One of such is his conviction that he only needs 4 years to fix Nigeria. When he met with some PDP stakeholders in Awka, Peter Obi said, “Nigeria must create jobs; it must give people the opportunity to earn their livelihood, and it is not rocket science. “I have travelled to over 30 countries and I still say that all I need is four years to position Nigeria on the path of progress.”
It appears Obi has started his journey to put Nigeria on the right path with his sojourn to Egypt. The Egyptian wanderer used to qualify Obi is not to sound derogatory but to assess the practicability of such a visit. Obi might have travelled for personal reasons but understanding that he is the messiah of many tired Nigerians, the right thing to do is to sustain the momentum. The LP presidential candidate announced his departure for Egypt to study the country’s education, power, planning and finance achievements. Obi’s decision to travel to Egypt might have been informed by the country’s giant leap from battling with poor power supply to being the second country in Africa with the highest electricity access. Despite this, many Nigerians questioned Obi’s motive.
The African Action Congress presidential candidate, Omoyele Sowore, swiftly knocked Obi over his trip. In a tweet on Tuesday, Sowore said, “Heard @PeterObi travelled to Egypt to learn how to fix Education/Power problems, this is exactly the problem with unprepared candidates. It is 9 months to the election & a two-term gov. & former VP candidate wants to go learn something from Egypt in 3 days? Wow! #WeCantContinueLikeThis.” The tweet expectedly was met with reviling comments from some of the LP’s supporters, Sowore’s claim is however justifiable. Obi’s selling point is his understanding of the country’s economy. He has repeatedly spoke about how he intends to change the country’s fortune. The ‘hype’ that has greeted his trip to Egypt by his supporters is therefore ridiculous.
It is ironical that Peter Obi’s Labour Party has merged with the All Progressives Congress for the Ekiti state governorship election scheduled to hold on Saturday. While Obi is having his photo ops on his way to Egypt, the party he leads is in bed with the one he intends to usurp. If this sends any message, it is simply that Peter Obi and his Labour party do not foresee their emergence in the 2023 presidential election. Why then relate his ‘recreational’ trip to Egypt to Nigeria’s development. Hypocrisy I think. 2023 is not too far away but a lot can change in 24 hours let alone 8 months. The Labour party, Peter Obi and his teeming supporters need to sit and decide on what they really want. To take over the coffers of power from the APC and PDP or to retain their social media popularity.