When the former Anambra State Governor, Mr. Peter Obi suddenly dumped the Peoples’ Democratic Party for the hitherto unheralded Labour Party and became LP’s presidential candidate, I wrote in this column that it may have been Nigeria’s greatest political masterstroke of a century.
There were however many in the professional political industry who did not agree with me. They were emphatic that Peter Obi cannot get anywhere. According to them, without the backing of the present corruption infected structures provided by the PDP or the APC, you cannot be the president of Nigeria.
That was weeks ago. I am not sure that they are that confident anymore! During the week, Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, a PDP man, observed that Peter Obi has today become the super-duper-star of Nigerian politics. He is the conversation in the Nigerian political environment. More than nine months to the presidential election, everybody is talking about Peter Obi. The videos of his speeches are trending on Facebook, WhatsApp Instagram and everywhere else and the young people of Nigeria are gulping every word he says. The just extended massive registration for PVCs is essentially driven by young ‘OBIdient’ Nigerians who have suddenly come to the conclusion that to end the misery, desperation, joblessness and hopelessness that has engulfed the nation, they must change the politics. Watch out: the turn out for voting in 2023 will be unprecedented.
Our traditional politicians who may have been sleeping with the confidence that their structures will deliver victory for them, may have woken up. They kind of sense that something unusual is going on in the political arena which must be confronted and that they ignore the Peter Obi revolution at their peril. Clearly, the word has gone out: “We either shoot down this Peter Obi guy or he will ruin our political investments” The stakes are very high.
So, the attack dogs have been unleashed to shoot down the Peter Obi Revolution. If you are familiar with Nigeria’s traditional media landscape, then you know which dog belongs to whom and who let the dogs out! This writer knows the traditional Nigerian media landscape and the dramatis personae.
The propaganda war is on and the attack lines are clear:
Number One- Peter Obi must be promoted as an ethnic candidate with an ethnic agenda and stopped from being established as a national phenomenon.
Number Two: The credibility of Peter Obi must be constantly challenged and he must be publicized as a habitual liar with a movement based on lies.
Number Three: The story of Obi’s achievements as Governor of Anambra State must be re-told to establish that he was a failure in government.
Number Four: The frugality for which Mr. Obi is known and which is one of his major selling points must be reinterpreted as incurable stinginess.
Number Five: Continue to repeat that Peter Obi has no structure and that the election cannot be one on social media, with the aim of destroying the confidence of his supporters.
Do not be surprised if you read tomorrow that Peter Obi never went to school, is terribly corrupt, morally depraved and sleeps with children or animals.
That is the nature of political propaganda. The big question is whether it will work this time. The attack dogs face major challenges and here are some of them:
Number One: With the advent of social media, the media landscape has dramatically changed. No one can monopolize information anymore. Everybody with a smartphone is now a publisher and everyone can be instantly challenged especially with the army of supporters of the Peter Obi movement being social media savvy.
Number Two: Peter Obi is extremely likable. He rarely attacks people. While the attack dogs are attacking him, he is attacking Nigeria’s problems and winning new converts. He is a moving target. A great example of his political sagacity is his masterful handling of Father Ejike Mbaka’s insults.
Number Three: While the attack dogs have to be “mobilized”, the Peter Obi movement is on auto-pilot with the thousands of “OBIdient” Nigerian youth who are NOT asking for any “shi-shi” propelling the movement.
Peter Obi has been revealed to Nigerians at a national level as being different. His sassy grasp of issues and his confident use of data, figures and statistics to break down complex problems has caught the eyes of many. In an environment, where most politicians simply hope, wish and pray, Obi appears to have plans with facts and numbers and not conjecture. He is clearly a digital leader in a digital age.
I repeat that even with the attack dogs, I have no doubt that Peter Gregory Obi will do very well as a candidate in the general elections. He connects well across the board: age, intellect, tribe, religion, etc. He has inspired an army of young Nigerians and his body language does not put anyone off.
The obedient supporters of this exciting new movement must stuff their ears to the attack dogs who will continue to tell them that Peter Obi cannot make it because he has no structure. Let it be repeated that while it is possible in the bullion van system to buy two thousand delegates, no one has enough dollars to buy the close to 50 million Nigerian voters that may be voting in 2023.
The young people of Nigeria, the same age group that drove the #endsars movement have caught a new fire and have concluded that for Nigeria to achieve true greatness, an end must be brought to our current bullion van democracy. Who says Obi has no structure? His structure is the young people of Nigeria who are committed to changing their country for the better.
Will the attack dogs succeed in shooting Peter Obi down?
By: Tony Okoroji