Peter Obi
Peter Obi

Peter Obi: Opportunist or messiah? by Muhammed M. Belgore

NEWS DIGEST – Google defines an opportunist as a person who takes advantage of opportunities as and when they arise, regardless of planning or principle. It defines a messiah on the other hand as a leader regarded as the saviour of a particular country, group or cause. The question I ask myself and Obidients across the land is, which of these two categories does Peter Obi fall under?

Whilst the campaigns for the just concluded Presidential election was on, it was quite difficult to understand the social media craze about Peter Obi. Many did not see him before now as the one to catapult Nigeria into a tomorrow where we join the committee of thriving nations. Whenever he speaks, all he does is brandish statistics that one can verify to be true or as it turns out most times, to be false. Most people’s grouse with the renowned trader was that until very recently, he was part of the brigade of despots that have to Nigeria’s most unfortunate detriment, held the responsibility of governing the people. He was the Vice-Presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party PDP just four (4) years ago.

Yet even in the divine realm, man can come out of the darkness into the light if he will but recognize his reality. Peter Obi was the one candidate out of the major three (3) who during the just concluded elections, amongst the youths, majorly, enjoyed the benefit of the doubt. This benefit of doubt did not however come as a result of Peter Obi’s inherent qualities as a person or his antecedents as a leader. His emergence and popularity seemed to mimic a proper case of opportunism. This column will attempt to break it down.

When the EndSars protest was on, it was a revelation of what the youths could achieve, if they would rise from their indolent places to have a say on their collective destiny. What started as a protest against police brutality morphed rapidly into a protest against everything that the current crop of ruling class stood for. One thing was clear to the establishment, things are no longer the same, and slowly but surely the people have begun to recognize that they’re the ones with the real power. It was Lord Varys the Spider in the HBO show Game of Thrones who once told Tyrion Lannister that power resides where the people believes it resides.

Before now the youths have endured condescension and outright disregard in matters of politics and governance from their forbears. Though their strength in large numbers is a force that should be harnessed, it has not always been so. Rather they’ve been classified as lazy and lacking foresight. This perspective has always been completely erroneous. The actual fact of the matter is that in an African society like Nigeria, the typical youth has been taught since he was only a child to always bow down to the elders and leave the major decisions to them. This is because the equity of the African culture assumed that the older you are, the wiser, and therefore, the responsibility of governance should rest with those long in the tooth. The elderly who accused the youth of indolence and laziness forgot to put this into account and proceeded to attach to the young ones the very unfair stereotype of laziness while ignoring their own failures. Now the chicken has come home to roost. The youths have become political Mavericks.

While the EndSars protest was on and the youths rightfully took to the street, I sort to speak some truth to my mates. What I sought to say in an article titled PVCs before Placards, was that it would make no sense to take to the streets in protest when majority of these protesters did not have their PVCs and so do not participate in the process of elections by voting. This voter apathy was therefore counter productive to the protests, it was as if they were putting the cart before the horse. The best thing to do was get ready to vote and make a telling difference through the ballot papers.

By the time the 2023 elections came around, most surprisingly to the conceited establishment, the supposedly indolent youths were ready to prosecute a revolution by means of their PVCs. Peter Obi seemed to have done his homework, he saw what was happening, swiftly decamped to the Labour Party and assumed the posture of a messiah. The youths in their rightful determination to oust the status quo decided to follow the former Governor of Anambra State, and so he became the candidate of the young. The Germaine question then became, was Peter Obi just an opportunist or a true messiah?

Taking advantage of opportunities is not by itself a bad thing, it is what intelligent people do. Success has been defined in certain quarters to be a case of when opportunity meets preparation, this is where this columnist found Peter Obi wanting. He was ill prepared to go on and win the elections. The issue of whether he was ready for the office of the number one citizen not arising yet, not as much as the issue of whether he had a proper plan in place to win the elections, asides from riding on the hate that the youth harboured for the establishment. His sincerity therefore had question marks. He also seemed to play on the sentiment of the Christian population who in a rebellious manner were poised to vote out the APC because they were enraged by the Muslim muslim ticket. All of these is politics and it is normal especially in a society like ours with its ethno-religious peculiarities to take advantage of its fault lines when in search of ambition and so Peter Obi cannot be chastised for doing so but the question still remained, is he an opportunist or a true messiah? Also cogent are the following questions. Did the youths simply forget that all that glitters is not gold? Did they pick the angel they did not know over the devils they were used to? Were they simply being taken advantage of? Can Peter Obi assume the status of a political mentor for the youths, so that even if he isn’t the flag bearer of the party, he will be satisfied with playing a key role that paves the way for the youths to climb the political ladder? Only he will be able to answer these questions.

And so After the fallout of the just concluded Presidential election for which INEC pronounced Jagaban the winner, that most revered leader of Men, Peter Obi and the LP have decided to go to court, all our fingers are crossed waiting to see what will happen, but I dare say he Peter Obi still has a lot of convincing to do. His ability to remain consistent will be the answer to the questions posed about his sincerity of purpose. If the Supreme Court does not decide in his favour, will he simply disappear from the political scene or remain as the symbol of freedom for a people who have awoken from their slumber? Perhaps he might recognize that it is more than ever possible to dislodge today’s crop of leaders if he can rebuild the LP structure around the youths so that he is no longer trying to put something on nothing. That way he would have them participating directly as card carrying members of the party, as well as fielding more young people like Gbadebo Rhodes Vivour when the 2027 elections come around.

The struggle and the fight to rescue Nigeria cannot happen in one election cycle, it has to be done gradually and strategically. Both Peter Obi and his army of Obidients need to take a step backwards to learn from the lessons of the just concluded presidential elections and fix whatever components of the process they might have previously failed to get right. Indeed the structure is the people, but democracy recognizes a modus operandi of doing things and the LP and their candidate still have a lot to do. There is however no doubt that Nigeria will be great again. Leaders of tomorrow we’ve been called, in nursery rhymes we sang songs of prophecy, tomorrow has now come since yesterday and we are fully ready to take Nigeria back to where it belongs. Nobody would have predicted that a third force different from the PDP and the APC would be able to achieve what LP was able to achieve in the just concluded presidential election. This great country will thrive again, whether that be through Peter Obi and the LP or someone else.

current nigerian news today