Peter Obi in a familiar terrain — By Tochukwu Ezukanma
Peter Obi won the hearts of the Nigerian masses with the force of his sincerity and the resonance of his message. Consequently, Nigerians rallied to his presidential standard; and elected him the president of Nigeria. But in a macabre electoral maneuver, the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) declared a loser in the presidential election, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the president-elect.
Peter Obi is challenging his stolen mandate in court. Going to court to regain a stolen mandate is not new to Obi. In 2003, he was rigged out by the Peoples Democratic Party gubernatorial candidate, Chris Ngige. He went to court and regained his mandate, and became the governor of Anambra State. It was a tempestuous gubernatorial ride. Twice, he was removed as governor, and twice, he went to court, and was, each time, reinstated by a court verdict. So, in his present challenge of the INEC/Tinubu stolen mandate, Obi is in a familiar terrain.
I once met Peter Obi at a reception for the visiting All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) leaders in Laurel, Maryland, outside of Washington, DC. Then, he was not a governor. He was still in court contesting the rigged election that wrongfully made Chris Ngige the governor of Anambra State. In a short speech, he talked about how and why he got into politics, the need to purse his court case to a conclusive end and his vision and planned programs for Anambra State. Some of his planned programs were too anti-establishment, anti-elitism and too pro-the common man. Despite my ingrained skepticism of Nigerian politicians, I was exceptionally impressed by him.
I had a question for him, “How can you implement your planned programs, knowing that even some of your party leaders will oppose many of them?” After all, like most other Nigerian politicians, APGA members and leaders are fixated on advancing personal interests and reinforcing the status quo. He partially answered my question, and promised to give me additional information in private, as he did not want it to be for public consumption. At the end of the event, he came straight to me, and we walked towards the elevator. He was beginning to provide me with the additional answer when the crowd surged towards him. It was not possible for him to continue in the ensuing clangor.
Finally, he won the court case, and became the governor of Anambara State. After a short while, as governor, members of the PDP-dominated Anambra State House of Assembly impeached him because they were frazzled by his financial honesty, fiscal discipline and refusal to pander to their corruption and cupidity. He successfully challenged the wrongful impeachment in court and won, and was re-instated as governor. Although his tenure had not ended, the Obasinjo presidency in concert with Maurice Iwu-ran INEC again removed him to make way for an Obasinjo protégé, Andy Uba. He went back to court, won the case and was again installed as governor.
After eight years as governor, he had transformed Anambra State. Evidently, he successfully implemented the vision and policies he espoused at the reception in Laurel, Maryland. His achievements were palpable in every facet of life in Anambra State: education, health, infrastructural development, fiscal responsibility, erosion control and security. As governor, he distinguished himself as a leader. His illustrious feat as governor was attributable to his dedicated service, incorruptibility, vision, and fiscal discipline. Undoubtedly, these are the desiderata for the leadership that Nigeria desperately needs.
Many Nigerians know this, and thus, never before had so many Nigerian, not swayed by money or party structure and machinery, but conviction, rallied to a party standard-bearer. The Peter Obi movement transcends religion, tribe and social-economic strata; it is inspiring and galvanizing Nigerians across every societal fault-line. This massive political movement adroitly channeled towards wresting power from the old order and evil oligarchy that have held a mucky sway of the country was successful: Obi won the election.
Just as the Anambra State power elite were exasperated by Obi’s financial honesty, fiscal discipline and incorruptibility; and thus, impeached him, the evil cabal that run the country are unnerved by the prospects of Obism. For it will break their yoke over the country and put an end to their stealing and salting away a frightening proportion of the people’s commonwealth. Thus, they are hell-bent of scuttling Peter Obi’s presidency.
But, then, it is within the realms of lunacy for any evil cabal and band of electoral fraudsters to believe that they can successfully subvert the collective will of the Nigerian people.
Normally, irrespective of the moral squalor and decadence of a society, there remain three institutions of incorruptibility: the Church, university and judiciary. To our profound dismay and lament, both the Nigerian Church and universities have faltered in this respect.
However, we still hold our judiciary in the highest esteem. Therefore, we know that justice must prevail: the Nigeria judiciary must retrieve the stolen mandate of the people, and bestow it to the winner of the February 25, 2023 presidential election, Peter Obi.
Tochukwu Ezukanma writes from Lagos, Nigeria.
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