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2023 Presidency: PETER OBI's Biggest Obstacle Revealed

Ever since it became clear that the battle for the 2023 presidency hangs among Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples’ Party (NNPP), and Peter Obi of the Labour Party, there has been growing support for the former Bank Chairman, with a lot of support across social media platforms.

Hardly would a day go by without Peter Obi trending on Twitter and Instagram. His foot soldiers are always on standby to pin his name on their respective handles and tweeps have placed enquiry centres on their timeline for the new kid on the block.

It started when Obi pulled out of the PDP primary race after he felt there we planned to frustrate his effort to clinch the party’s ticket for the presidential election. Many members of the party also dumped the party, including its bigwig politicians, its aspirants and very many supporters, all running to the Labour Party, for the simple reason that Obi has moved on. Peter Obi’s resignation was a big blow to the PDP as it was hit by the mass resignation of key members from the South-East.

The likes of Mr Valentine Ozigbo, PDP’s governorship candidate in the November 2021 governorship election in Anambra, who is running for Senate, Hon Valentine Ayika, Hon Tony Nwoye and Hon George Ozodinobi, all former members of the National Assembly are among those who also withdrew from their aspiration and resigned from the party. However, political commentators have warned that Peter Obi’s biggest strength in his presidential bid may have just become his biggest obstacle, his overzealous supporters.

In the desperate bid to sell their candidate as the only credible alternative to Nigerians, they never realized that their misguided and ill-advised rants were stoking afresh the embers of ethnic discord in the country.

Obi’s overzealous supporters, majorly of Igbo extraction, do not understand their hero’s transition to advocate for the disadvantaged and vulnerable Nigerians is beyond the South-East. Obi is selling a powerful message that resonates nationwide. He neither speaks the violent dialect of IPOB nor does he sing the victim song of Igbo marginalization.

Obi has tried to position himself as a facilitator for all who desire to rescue Nigeria from those kneeling on the neck of the poor, the unemployed and the vulnerable, but the social media warriors are not doing him any good. Despite Peter Obi’s call for decorum, his social media supporters have continued to engage in condemnation of other aspirants and candidates. Peter Obi’s supporters don’t take any chill pill. They come hard and tough at any innocent commentator whose opinion seems at variance with their position. A US-based political commentator and attorney noted that Peter Obi is a businessman at heart, not a politician. “A good politician doesn’t save money in an under-developed economy, it shows a lack of idea. They use the money to develop infrastructure for the good of a greater number of people. He advised that the social media warriors should be worried about the high possibility of Peter Obi’s securitization of their efforts on social media like an investment paper and selling it to a stronger candidate."

“While he was frolicking in Egypt, one of the structures he would need badly if he is ever going to be President collapsed into APC in Ekiti. How can we bet that Aba would not collapse into Cameroun under his watch?" he asked. Another political analyst, Fredrick Nwabufo from the East also advised Peter Obi’s supporters to be courteous on social media and added that the young Igbo today, particularly those who take up residence on social media, are quick-tempered, and ready to maul anyone who holds a plural view.

“They are rash and uncritical. It must be their way or the highway to hell. What a retrogressive evolutionary trajectory! How did a critical mass of the Igbo young become so narrow-minded and uncultivated?" he asked.

Another source within the Labour Party added that only Igbo votes cannot make Peter Obi President.

“The whole of the South-East as of 2019 has 10,057,130 registered voters. This is from all the states in the South-East. It will shock you to discover that just three states from the North will equate and underscore the whole of the votes from the six states even if all the votes are cast for Peter Obi. Kaduna has 3,932,492 voters, Kano has 5,457,747 voters and Katsina has 3,230,230 voters. The three states have a combined 12,620,469 voters. They even have an excess of 2,563,339 voters against the South-East.  “This explains the danger in polarizing the candidacy of Peter Obi along ethnic lines as his social media warriors are currently doing".

Peter Obi’s political network is very limited. He is the creation of an internet fad that does not count at the polling unit. But he is a decent man with the potential of a progressive President.

Debby Ayokunle, a social media tweep, clearly advised the Labour Party presidential candidate to look beyond his social media support base and begin to set up a serious team that will canvass real voters who will come out during elections to vote rather than depending on social media cowards who will only rant from the comfort of their bedroom and not step a foot outside on the election day.

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