Why Peter Obi exceeded people’s expectations, by Oligbinde
National Director of Communication and Programme of African Democratic Congress (ADC), Barrister Ifenla Jedidiah Oligbinde, whose party adopted the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) Mr. Peter Obi spoke with ADAMU ABUH on why Nigerians will not give up the struggle for new political order.
How will you assess the performance of the Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate, Mr Peter Obi, at the last election?
I will say he exceeded people’s expectations. When he made the decision to leave Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) knowing that he wasn’t going to get the Presidential ticket of the party, many wondered why he chose to go to a small party. But, he has registered himself in people’s mind as someone who is ready to defy odds and take destiny into his hands.
If you recall the historic saga of October 20, 2020, which everyone now know as #EndSARS Lekki massacre, the Federal and Lagos State governments, through their actions and inactions, made it clear that rule of law and ingredients of fundamental human rights were a tall expectation from the APC government. I won’t belabour readers with a breakdown of what went wrong on that eventful day when the sky rained blood.
Unfortunately, justice wasn’t served and till date, we still have an increased record of police brutality in different forms and unlawful profiling of Nigerian youths as criminals. Nigerians were broken from that event. I have friends who were victims of Lekki brutality. No amount of psychological and mental narratives by players involved can remove the reality of what happened that day.
About a year and half after that, political parties started issuing out expression of interest and nomination forms for aspirants who desire to run on their platforms. Obi decided to take his shot at presidency on the platform of PDP, but he had to quit the party.
While veteran politicians believed it was business as usual after “the so called lazy youths” who raised their voices and held the entire country under their will for about 48 hours seemed to withdraw into their shells, what most of them didn’t know was that key action enablers like anger, frustration, hunger, lack of faith in leadership, and so on had already put people in a defensively aggressive position mentally. This set of frustrated Nigerians would have needed an act of God to make them believe in any average politician.
And then, Obi decided to dump PDP for LP in pursuit of his presidential ambition because every Nigerian was tired of the PDP and APC. In fact, if Obi had joined any other small party, he would have still been crowned a King, in as much as it wasn’t either of those two parties.
Do you know some people traveled from different locations to where their Polling Units (PUs) were? Some even returned to the country simply because of one vote for one man that people said had no structure.
The will of the people prevailed and it was evident in the result. There is always a generation that desperately needs a figurehead, a leader, a torch-bearer and Obi allowed himself to be that man.
What is your opinion about the rejection of the presidential elections result by the LP and PDP?
ADC, LP and PDP did the proper thing by their actions on Monday, and other actions that are currently being carried out. Apart from the fact that ADC won some seats in the just concluded National Assembly elections, it was necessary for us to lend our voice with LP, because ADC endorsed Obi before the election. We had to go all out to join in the protest. More importantly, our pact with the Obi-Datti Movement was for our strong candidates in different states to enjoy different levels of endorsement and adoption by LP at the state and Local Council level.
We are happy to be at this side of history, though incidentally. This only goes to prove that when a generation is tired of tyranny, imposition and lack of accountability, forces must always forget their differences and fight together. Our parties have spoken because we did not believe in what INEC has reported. We demand for fresh election. We are sure of the work we have done at the grassroots to ensure that the electorate vote for Obi. If INEC yields to our demand for fresh election, we will follow the votes more closely this time, and make sure every vote is protected, counted and delivered.
What is your opinion about the future of Nigerian politics?
I firmly believe that the future of Nigerian politics is young, fresh and uncommon. This election has put some level of fear and anxiety in the upper political class. Now, they know that if you fight against a political class, you can predict the outcome. Either you use financial or physical blackmail, intimidation and manipulation; you can always guess what the outcome of such moves would be. But when you are fighting against a generally acclaimed common good, or what I now describe to be the will of the people, you can’t predict the outcome.
By the bandwagon effect of millions of people who decided to vote for Obi, several candidates who didn’t spend one tenth of what their counterparts spent on logistics and mobilisation were elected. The other side to this is that most of these people were not known, and no key performance indicator was placed on them.
However, I hope political parties and electorate can now see that politics can be run on moderate budget. There is no need to have to resort to selling personal belongings, just because you want to run for office. If we can find other means of empowering and lobbying the electorate, I believe women and youths would have more opportunities in the nearest future.
Political parties have started embracing these possibilities and ADC is not left out. Our national youth leader is a young female, Hauwa Yusuf. I am also one of the youngest members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of ADC. I handle three major offices in one role: Publicity, Communication and Programmes. Who knows, Nigeria may record first female Governor in this election, my fingers are crossed on this, and possibly record a President who is between the ages of 40 and 50 in the nearest future.
One thing is certain, there is a wind of transformation that is moving across the country: redemption from the North, unification from the West and empowerment from the East. This is the time for new order because the old order is coming to an end. There is a new tribe and clan of Nigerians coming up from all regions, devoid of religion and ethnic sentiments.
What do you make of the performance of women in National Assembly elections?
Our women went all out in this election and being a woman myself, I can’t be more proud to be a Nigerian at this time. Beni Lar was re-elected into House of Representatives, Langtang North/Langtang South Federal Constituency Plateau State, while Ireti Kingigbe won the FCT Senatorial district. Not forgetting the ongoing situation in Kogi State, where Natasha Akpoti will always remain a winner after fighting courageously, despite the intimidation from Governor Yahaya Bello. We are still keeping our fingers crossed and observing, as we wait for the outcome of the state assembly elections.
One thing was obvious in this entire election: women came all out and showed they were fit and ready to run. I think the era of women being frail and easily intimidated is over. With the results we have seen so far, we will certainly have more women in the next election cycle.