Sunday 12 June 2022

The Rise Of Labour Party And Peter Obi's 2023 Chances


The Rise And Rise Of Labour Party And Peter Obi's Tremendous Chances For President Maters Arising By Osigwe Omo-Ikirodah

Nigerians will go to the polls in around 8 months and 13 days, which translates to 258 calendar days, to elect their preferred presidential candidate who will steer the ship of the nation for the next four years.

Nigeria is a middle-income country with a diverse economy and a rising market. Its manufacturing, service, financial, technological, communications, and entertainment areas are growing. Nonetheless, the country is currently dealing with severe economic challenges.

Security concerns, health-care troubles, an epileptic electrical supply, a rapidly disintegrating educational system, and a myriad of other social and economic maladies have pushed voters to seek ways to elect a government that is responsive to citizens' demands.

Because of the monopolistic structure of only two leading parties, the APC and the PDP, the political system has made it herculean for the people to have their choice leaders over the years. The implications of this are that whatever candidates the two biggest parties present for Nigerians, there is little or no choice for an alternative.

Because of the domineering power of these two political parties, it is even more difficult for revolutionaries to take over the leadership of the parties or provide qualified and capable hands to the electorates to represent the people in elective offices across various positions.

With the rising cost of inflation, party primaries are now reserved for only the wealthy who can afford to suffer the arduous process of delegate settling that has become the accepted norm. It has become so ingrained in the system that it is now common to go through the delegates issue before being nominated to represent a political party.

The process is now highly commercialized, during the presidential primaries held by one of these big political parties a while ago I  met an elderly friend who happens to be a delegate at the airport and he was struggling to get back to Benin City the same morning the elections were to begin. I approached him and asked, "Epa na slippers you wear come airport? Wey your luggage now? He looked at me and laughed he said "Ikirodah na gbese I dey o , Ben Johnson " 

Of course, I asked what occurred, and he opened up everything to me. According to him, he had collected money from about 5 presidential aspirants and had made some cool dollars when he suddenly discovered that his faction as adhoc delegates had not been approved by the party's NWC, so he had to flee the hotel that morning leaving behind his shoes and even luggage as he hurriedly took off from the hotel's swimming pool axis when he heard the sad tale that their delegates list had been rejected.

Funny enough, there was no return flight to Benin that morning, so he had to board the next available flight to Lagos.This goes to show how messed up our system has become. Today's little children would tell you that when they grow up, they want to be political party delegates.

Then, all of a sudden, things appear to be changing with the arrival of Peter Obi's presidential ambition. The former Anambra State Governor, who was a leading aspirant in the PDP, dumped the party on the eve of the primaries and switched his camp to the Labour Party, and Nigerians have taken over the entire available space hailing Peter Obi's candidacy, describing it as a new dawn.

The Labour Party is expanding at such a rapid pace that Nigerians have labeled Peter Obi's presidential ambition as a MOVEMENT; the youths are enthusiastic about his involvement, which they think is a remedy to the country's years of failing leadership.

Obi's presidency is viewed as a credible option, and Nigerians believe it is a national initiative that every well-meaning Nigerian should support if they truly want quality and deserving improvements. They are so committed to this cause that people have begun volunteering their homes to serve as campaign units for Obi.

Young people are rushing to get their PVCs, club owners are actually pushing for Peter Obi, and Nigerian celebrities are organizing concerts across the country in support of his presidential candidacy. Obi for President has taken over every available space. For the first time in electoral campaign history, youths are completely engaged.

Matters Arising:

Will the Labour Party be able to win the upcoming election? What are their chances of getting a national distribution?

To begin with, Obi has presented himself as a viable alternative; when he stepped down as Anambra State Governor on March 17, 2014, he left behind a massive financial investment for Anambra State, including 50 million dollars and more than seven billion naira in Access Bank, 55 million dollars and more than twenty billion naira in Fidelity Bank, and 50 million dollars in Diamond Bank. Documents show that Peter Obi invested a total of 154.4 million dollars in Anambra.

Obi is regarded as a trustworthy resource manager who has no tolerance for waste in government. He is undeniably marketable.

Here's a quick rundown of what Obi's team should do right away to maintain the praiseworthy millage that the campaign has become.

Obi's fans must calm down and recognize that Obi is not only the perceived credible candidate running for President; they must also learn to be tolerant when interacting with other political party supporters parading their candidates.

They must refrain from personally insulting these supporters and instead direct their comments, if necessary, on the principals of these supporters; the goal is to strengthen alliances rather than demolish bridges.

In selecting his running companion, Peter Obi should look to the North-West and North-East, aiming for a perfect balance if possible.

Peter Obi should choose a popular Northern Muslim as his campaign director and ensure that he has unrestricted access to the Northern Oligarchy. In the game, a balanced mix  is part of winning battles.

Politics is all on strategy and having a large financial war chest, thus the diaspora should hire professionals to market Obi to the desired audience, which in this case the North should be top priority.

As a matter of urgency, Peter Obi should send representatives to meet with Nnmadi Kanu and implore him to persuade his people to support his candidacy. This should be done discreetly so that other regions do not misinterpret it. The South-East must learn to let go of their egos and support Obi's aspirations; if tensions in the east remain high, Peter Obi will be unable to secure South-East votes in Bloc.

Obi must take advantage of the "Home Advantage" and sweep the South-East clean. Failure to reassure the North that Obi retains his home support in the coming months will spell doom for Peter Obi in the North.

Aside from initiating a mosquito campaign where adherents would be involved in a door to door sensitization of the electorates , Obi's structure should work on having a National Appeal. He should be nicknamed in various dialects and allowed to stick, having an adopted Hausa/Fulani name is not even a bad idea for Peter Obi.

So far, Obi appears to be the most sellable candidate due to his anti-corruption appeal and having a platform, the Labour Party, that is considered as people-friendly, but in politics, goodwill is secondary to resources and human capacity to deliver votes. The Labour party should form coalitions with smaller parties and devise a strategy to persuade other presidential hopefuls from smaller parties to support Obi's presidential ambition.

They should be willing to reimburse the costs incurred by their competitors and include them into their team. Nigerians dislike wasting their votes, thus some popular candidates on the internet and even on the street may not win elections. Personally, I would not vote for somebody who I believe cannot win the general election. The alliance of small presidential contenders would rekindle optimism and reassurance that their votes might really swing victory.

Here's how the general election would look if the current trend continues.

Peter Obi would sweep the South-East and do well in the South-South, stealing some votes from the PDP. In the 2019 presidential elections, the PDP received 448,015 votes in Lagos State, while the APC received 580,825 votes. Lagos would give Peter Obi valuable votes.

Lagos has the most dynamic youngsters pushing for Peter Obi, combined with traders from the East and enthusiasts for genuine transformation, they will go all out for Peter Obi. Although, Obi will not win Lagos State since Asiwaju Tinubu is the APC flagbearer, but I am convinced that Obi would receive at least 600,000 votes from Lagos. Obi will go ahead and garner some votes from other South-West states.

Peter Obi will have leverage and the mandatory nationwide spread if he can form a good partnership with the NNPP and some other parties with minimal influence in the North. Take notice that the North will be a hotbed of activity for the APC, PDP, and NNPP, thereby  scattering their votes.

What Obi has going for him that cuts across all geographical regions is the notion among Nigerians that if he is elected President, he is sincerely committed to changing the country. The GREAT RACE would be close and impossible to predict.

Osigwe Omo-Ikirodah writes in from Abuja.

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