Mr Peter Gregory Obi, the Labour Party Presidential candidate and the leader of the ‘Obidient’ Movement may not know it, but from recent happenings after the February 25, 2023 Presidential election it should dawn on him that the Nigerian state and the caste of rulers feeding fat on the dysfunctional and decayed edifice called Nigeria consider him as a danger to their interest.
Mr. Obi prior to June 2022 when he defected to the Labour Party and emerged the presidential candidate of the par- ty was, even though a member of the ruling caste but he was an outsider and a good guy for that matter. He had run for the 2019 presidential election with Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as vice presidential candidate.
Mr Obi has a rich past having served as the governor of the hitherto troubled Anambra State where his predecessor (Chris Ngige) was kidnapped and held at gun-point at Enugu by the then Assistant Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ige of the Nigeria Police Force, Umuahia Zonal Command awaiting the processing of his purported resignation formalities. It was in that troubled and political-sharks- infested waters of Anambra state that Peter Obi cut his political teeth.
And it was not easy for him. And that Anambra State experience went a long way to show the stuff Mr Obi is made of. And so also the same experience should put his present traducers in their inquiries about the quarry they are encircling. Mr Obi had emerged the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, a relatively unknown party that served as receptacle for disaffected and dislodged politicians from mainstream parties like the People’s Democratic Party and the defunct All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP).
The best electoral outing of the Labour Party remained the period when Olusegun Mimiko was dislodged from PDP in favour of Segun Oni in Ondo State and he defected to Labour Party and won the governorship election to become the governor of Ondo State.
After Miniko’s governorship, the party fell into abandonment as it failed to progress beyond that Mimiko landmark. Then in 2022, Mr Obi was clearly an outsider in PDP as it is totally at variance with his personal and political personae. PDP is a swash buckling political machinery constructed by the military generals (serving and retired) to seize power as they retreated from military rule regime they had imposed on Nigerian since 1966 and which regime was clearly driving Nigeria to the brink of the abyss in 1998/99.
So, having cobbled together PDP and APP as its alternate wing with the Alliance for Democracy as a tokenistic accommodation of the NADECO activists, the generals drafted one of their own members, the irrepressible and enigmatic Olusegun Obasanjo to fly the presidential ticket of the party and he won the 1999 presidential election.
Chief Obasanjo ruled for eight years and notched up several laurels in good governance, but above all, he held the country together and stabilized it. The Northern political oligarchs that foisted him on Nigeria wanted to remove him to re-take power but by then General Obasanjo had matured in the militarized politics otherwise called ‘cantonment’ or ‘do-or-die’ politics that he used anti-corruption crusade managed by EFCC, to scatter and disperse the forces ranged against him.
He won a re-election and there was a plan to hitch a third term for him through the Constitutional amendment but that plan hit the rock as his political benefactors especially General Ibrahim Babangida and TY Danjuma were clearly and openly against that gamble.
Infact, when this writer read an interview granted by General TY Danjuma wherein he narrated how Chief Obasanjo had consulted him on third tenure and how he rebuffed the request to support it and pointed Chief Obasanjo to the travails of MKO Abiola and General Sani Abacha who according to him were all killed to clear political debris of Nigeria, I was shocked to the marrow. It is good to recapture the exact words of TY Danjuma as he uttered them to President Obasanjo.
According to TY Danjuma, when Obasanjo visited him and mooted the idea of third-tenure he (Danjuma) told him to consider the fates of MKO Abiola and Sani Abacha who died in mysterious circumstances. He (Danjuma) asked Obasanjo whether he thought these men died a natural death? He (TY Danjuma) answered that MKO Abiola and Sani Abacha did not die a natural death as they were killed by those who own and manage Nigeria. And that if he wants to suffer the same fate, he was going about it the right way. He asked Obasanjo to appreciate that Nigeria is not an ordinary country. That it is a special facility owned by some people who are ready to safeguard and manage it according to their laid down unknown rules the public is not privy to.
It was in this imponderable political environment that Mr Obi had appeared first in Anambra State and survived the political sharks and even notched up laurels as an un- common governor who governed on the parameters of MDG goals that centre on human development and societal progress through secured society, good education, health and road network and corruption-free system.
As Mr Obi exited Anambra State, he left the All Progressives Grand Alliance formed by his mentor, General Emeka Ojukwu and defected to the then ruling party, PDP under President Goodluck Jonathan.
Jonathan was defeated in 2015 general election by APC’s General Buhari. By 2019, General Buhari’s misrule has elicited widespread support for PDP whereof Atiku Abubakar became the presidential candidate to square up with President Buhari. Mr Atiku had Mr Obi as his vice Presidential candidate and PDP would have won the election but for the fraudulent electoral culture of Nigeria.
In 2023 electoral season, Alhaji Atiku was thrown up again as PDP presidential candidate to the annoyance of PDP members such as Governor Nyesom Wike and five other governors who opposed Atiku ticket. Meanwhile, before the PDP Presidential Primary, Mr Obi had defected from PDP where he was contesting for presidential nomination to the Labour Party where he was offered the presidential ticket. From that moment, a movement of disaffected youths in the South- ern and Middlebelt Nigeria unfurled marching by and behind Mr Obi’s presidential aspiration.
This movement called itself “the Obidients.” The ‘Obidients’ was a repeat of colonial history when the nationalist movement threw up the Zikist Movement which was an assemblage of youths from all over Nigeria peopled by low and middle class youthful populations of artisans, workers, students and even politicians.
The Zikist Movement chose Nnamdi Azikiwe, the foremost nationalist as a beneficiary of its support and the Zikists galvanized Azikiwe’s party, the National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC). Between 1946 when it was formed and 1950 when it was proscribed by British colonial government, the Zikist had made Azikiwe the undisputable political leader in Nigeria and if Azikiwe had been faithful and steadfast to the cause of unconditional liberation of Nigeria from the shackles of British colonialism, the Zikists would have together with other revolutionary forces catapulted Nigeria into the circle of coun- tries retrieved from colonial bondage without pre- conditions. The Zikist Movement failed because Azikiwe betrayed the Zikists’ cause and both they and he paid dearly for their respective actions or inactions.
Consequent upon the proscription of the Zikist Movement the young men betrayed by Azikiwe abandoned Azikiwe and NCNC and migrated ruefully into the Action Group led by Obafemi Awolowo. Having dismantled the revolutionary trajectory of Azikiwe and his NCNC, the British turned to Awolowo to create an alternate wing and a buffer to Azikiwe’s nationalist fervour in Southern Nigeria.
Knowing that as long as the south was bifurcated by Azikiwe and Awolowo into tribal fiefdoms leaving the Northern behemoth intact political power will by default be with the North.
So, Britain maintained the tripartite structure intact and no agitations from Middle Belt and Southern minorities (COR State Movement) moved Britain to budge. As Azikiwe left the revolutionary tradition and embraced British establishment politics, it became the lot of Awolowo to inherit by default Azikiwe’s nationalist and revolutionary credentials.
Naturally, left of centre politicians left NCNC for AG. By 1960 when Britain ceded independence on what Azikiwe called “on platter of gold” the inheritors of British colonial power, being the Northern People’s Congress led by Tafawa Balewa and Ahmadu Bello knew that their political head- ache does not reside with Azikiwe who has been sucked into the British constructed political traditions and thereby destroyed but with Awolowo who has, in spite of himself been saddled with Azikiwe’s abandoned nationalist and revolutionary credentials.