Who would have thought in Nigeria’s political space, that the defection of Peter Obi, from the main opposition political party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to an a-little-known Labour Party would not have a suicidal effect on the former governor of Anambra State, who is contesting a national election on his own for the first time?
Naijaonpoint had reported that the former governor of Anambra, 2006-2014, defected to the unknown Labour Party on May 25, 2023. That is just three days to the presidential primary election of PDP, a party with all necessary structures that guarantee high prospect of electoral victory in a country like Nigeria where electoral malpractices are high.
In his letter dated May 24, addressed to the National Chairman of the PDP, Ayu Iyorchia, Peter Obi cited ideological differences, stating that the challenges of the country are deep-rooted, to him staying and aligning with the PDP would not be the best.
The letter with the title “Resignation from PDP and withdrawal from the presidential contest” Mr Obi noted that the nation’s challenges are deep-rooted.
“Unfortunately, recent developments within our party make it impossible for me to continue participating and making constructive contributions.
“Our national challenges are deep-rooted and require that we each make profound sacrifices towards rescuing our country.”
Many political analysts said the vice-presidential candidate of Atiku Abubakar in the 2019 general election under the PDP umbrella was dead for defecting to the LP.
For Atiku, “I really don’t expect the Labour Party to take as many votes from the PDP as people are suggesting. We could have seen it in the last election in Osun State. What was the performance of the Labour Party?
“This is a party that doesn’t have a governor, doesn’t have members of the national assembly, doesn’t have members of the state Houses of Assembly. And politics in this country depends on structures you have at those various levels; at the local level, at the state level and at the national level.”
“It is very difficult for a miracle to happen simply because Peter Obi is in the Labour Party,” Atiku stated in an interview in response to Obi’s defection.
But the former Anambra State governor has a message that has given hope to Nigerian youths who are his major supporters and campaigners. He has promised to move the country from consumption to production. He has also promised to invest in power and ensure that the country’s 100 million citizens living in poverty are saved.
The LP presidential candidate has also gone across the world to meet Nigerians in the diaspora with a message of hope.
On 2 September at Washington DC, the United States, Peter said, “Bolstering our power sector is imperative. We will lay special emphasis on critical infrastructure, especially Power, to ensure a clear measurable increase of 200% of today’s generation, transmission and distribution, within the shortest possible time through public-private partnership.”
Nigerians lack trust in the promises of their politicians but Obi has been seen by the youthful supporters as a man worthy of their trust more than the other two major contenders, Atiku Abubakar of PDP, and Bolat Tinubu of APC.
Countdown to from May 25 to October 1, 2023, from Kaduna to Enugu, from Kano to Ibadan, from Awka to Gombe, from Nassarawa to Onitsha, from Uyo to Akure, from Calabar to Abeokuta, from Abuja to Lagos, from Jos to Yola, from Kastina to Jalingo, from Portharcourt to Makurdi, from Yenegoa to Sokoto all nooks and crannies of the country have had their quality shares in the rallies for Peter Obi by supporters who answer ‘Obidients’.
The rally that however broke the camel’s back was the October 1, independence rally which took over Nigeria’s independence day celebration, all the six geo-political zones of the country had a one-million march in sensitization of the electorates on why they should vote for Peter Obi. The march overshadowed the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition PDP from where Obi defected to Labour Party.
A critic of Obi from the day he defected to LP was Reno Omokri, a former aide to ex-president Goodluck Jonathan, an Atiku campaigner, admitted that a further wish away of the support Obi is getting from his youthful supporters would be counterproductive to the two major parties of PDP and APC.
On October 1 rally for Peter Obi, Reno said, “It is not just the sheer number of attendees. Imagine the logistics behind simultaneously organizing people at different ends of the nation. Yes, a lot are persons of SE origins. But for one man’s ambition to mobilize them in such numbers is something to be admired!
“On August 15, El-Rufai boasted that Obi won’t get “two 200 persons on the street.” Today, we saw close to 2000. Yes, a lot of them are persons of Southeastern origins. But for one man’s ambition to mobilize them in such mesmerizing numbers is something to be admired.
“The Obidient rallies at Festac and Amuwo were AMAZING. They are great achievements. Anyone who tries to belittle them is not politically astute. While Obi will not win in 2023, he has successfully disrupted politics in Nigeria. Well done Obi! Well done Obidients!”
Omokri, however, sees the support as an advantage to the APC presidential candidate Tinubu, stating that the LP candidate will not win the election.
“Without Obi in the race, Bola Tinubu would have had absolutely no chance. Peter Obi is not the Southeast’s chance. He is Tinubu’s chance! He has helped Tinubu level the real race, which is between him and Atiku. For Tinubu, Obi is the best early Christmas gift ever!” he added.
PDP Presidential campaign Spokesman, Daniel Bwala, stated that the rally for Peter Obi across the country and the crowd at the Lagos rally has shown that Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos, who thinks the state votes are in his pocket may have to reconsider his thoughts.
Bwala tweeted, ” Pitobi @PeterObi and Labour have tried with the crusade in Jos, rally’s in Kaduna and Lagos.”
He further mocked the ruling APC and Tinubu, “They kept saying @PeterObi would steal @OfficialPDPNig
votes until they saw the Obidient Lagos rally, then they realized Pitobi is on a mission to plunder Emilokan’s south west votes. Obi’s voters are all over the south west, cities, towns and villages. Hahahahahaha.”
On Kaduna, Bwala added, “The crowd at Pitobi @PeterObi rally in Kaduna despite @elrufai, suggests the decline of APC in that state. This is even Labour, not PDP, Obi not Atiku. The EA amendment has de-mystified governors. If 2015 APC victory does not humble APC, the 2023 APC defeat would humiliate them.”
The spokesman for the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential campaign council, Festus Keyamo, sees hope. He believes that the ruling APC will definitely kick off the Obidients rally with their campaign in November.
“It is not the same ease with which you start and manoeuver a 50-ton trailer that you use to start and manoeuver a 4-cylinder engine car. But when both machines jam on the highway, you will know which is which! When our campaigns rev up, we shall separate the boys from the men!,” Keyamo said.
In an address, the man who has revolutionized youths’ interest in Nigeria politics, Peter Obi, in his address to Obidients rally said:
Dear OBIdients, 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, OBIdients 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 Youths. 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. May Almighty God bless you all and bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” the Labour Party candidate said.