By Martin Ezimano, Esq.
WHEN SOME PERSONS, IN attempting to diminish the Peter Obi tsunamic mystique, say that Obi is doomed to fail because he lacks political structure and his popularity is only on social media, they do not realize that they are being self contradictory and at the same time paying the Obi phenomenon the highest possible compliment.
To better understand, we may have to retrace our steps back on the sands of history.
In 1993, the Nigerian electorate were thoroughly disillusioned with one General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida’s maradonic dribbles of seasoned and tested politicians in the land. He had first banned some as corrupt and corruptive oldbreed. And those left he took on such a merry go round till they became dizzy and lost interest in the race to succeed him.
Step in MKO Abiola.
When MKO threw his hat into the ring, the game changed.
Previously apathetic Nigerians, from North to the South, once again rekindled their passion because they sensed something about MKO — call it the X Factor– that told them that here comes the real deal.
Forgotten was the fact that MKO was a longtime friend to IBB. Of no moment was the the fact that the political bigwigs North and South initially withheld their support of his candidacy. Even his Muslim Muslim ticket in a strongly religious polarized country was discountenanced.
MKO became a cult figure, from city to country, as the only man who would liberate Nigerians from the shackles of the military.
Unlettered villagers, who hitherto had never heard of or seen Abiola, just understood that one had been sent by Providence that could match the wiliness of the old tortoise that was IBB.
Then an undergraduate, and with the universities being on strike just like in today’s Nigeria– how so repetitive of the past is the present!– I remember devoting my mornings, Sunday after Sunday, to one man orations mounted at the Onitsha Post Office haranguing the gathered crowds and impressing upon them the revolutionary duty of electorally toppling the military by voting MKO Abiola.
And when June 12 1993 came , it was indeed nothing short of a revolution!
Igbos, ever mischievously touted as Yoruba antagonists, ignored their civil war leader Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu who was then in NRC, sidestepped the Biafra Bank Governor Sylvester Ugoh, then running mate to NRC Bashir Tofa and lined up behind the Horse of SDP.
Kano state, home of Bashir Tofa, repudiated their son and stood behind the stammering stranger in who they saw hope for themselves and their children.
And so June 12 became the first time, since independence, that Nigerians stood to be counted as Nigerians forgetting those planted divisions of region and religion.
I have friends today who report that their mothers from Northern Nigerian States are asking about that Igbo man who is being said will put an end to the suffering in the land.
Peter Obi, I am sure, never bargained for the emotional investment his candidate is receiving.
Social media has taken over where the conventional may not reach and roared his name to the backwaters and hinterlands. These are places also touched by the lack and poverty that has been normalized by locusts as politicians that have held sway since the return of the country to civil rule.
The old man In the village is now getting to hear about a man who so respected government money that he left millions in the coffers after his stewardship. A man with such a common touch that he carries his luggage at the airports.
This, then, is Peter Obi’s structure: the teeming youths who in an unprecedented record making display of civic consciousness are jostling all over the land to get their PVCs preparatory for the coming elections. These youths have declared their intention not only to vote but to monitor and defend their votes.(Play no games with this declaration: Remember #EndSARS#!)
This is Peter Obi’s structure: the news spreading like harmattan bushfire that a man has been sent who will lift the yoke so long borne by the poor and downtrodden.
This is Peter Obi’s structure: the spreading story that a man has come who is prepared to engage the youths creatively in conversion of the potentials of this country into its entitled greatness in the comity of nations.
In 1993, Nigerians sang; “MKO is our man o.”
2022/2023 Nigerians are saying they are now all Obiligated to be Obidient.
Nigerians are saying #no shishi# to buy votes, Nigerians are volunteering their resources and time just like myself and so many other believers did in did three decades back!
JUST BECAUSE OF ONE MAN?
NO!!!! MORE BECAUSE OF THAT UNKNOWN — THAT X FACTOR.
That factor that gives physical demonstration to the lines of the first national anthem:
“Though tribe and tongue may differ/ in brotherhood we stand”.
Time will tell how this new Nigerian risorgimento will fare, whether the those sworn to keep this country a perpetual mockery will allow this movement of the people to triumph.
But mark this! Because of the Peter Obi phenomenon, Nigerian politics post 2023 will never remain the same!
Chalk this up somewhere and hail me a prophet upon fulfilment!
Martin Ezimano, Esq., is a Nigerian Civil Rights Attorney and Advocate.