Rather than acknowledge his pan-Nigerian disposition, Obi’s traducers have mischievously tried to project him as an Igbo candidate who should be shunned by non-Igbo Nigerians.
By Amanze Obi
The ongoing attempt by a group of lawyers from a particular section of the country to stop the solidarity rally being organised for Peter Obi in Lagos through the courts speaks volumes. It is a crass display of bigotry; indeed a distressing example of little-mindedness and sheepishness.
The move is as sickening as it is disgusting. The action smacks of paranoia. It is, as a matter of fact, yet another irrational attempt by those who are uncomfortable with the momentum around Obi’s presidential aspiration to bring him down.
But those who are abreast of political developments in the land are hardly surprised. They are aware that certain disquiet, even consternation, has enveloped the polity since Peter Obi stepped forward to bid for the presidency. His quest has brought about an untold angst in certain quarters. Those who are ill at ease with the unexpected development are squirming with discomfort.
They do not seem to understand what is about to take place. Could it be a democratic revolution, a revolt, an electoral coup or what? Who could this man be? A phenomenon or a larger-than-life actor on the political scene? The bemusement is still a matter of concern to many, especially those who are not properly disposed to his political ascendancy.
This disquieting scenario is eliciting reactions from interested quarters. At first many were given to dismissing him as a social media creation; a mere flash in the pan. They said he was going nowhere. But each passing day seems to depict a contrary reality. The man could be going somewhere after all.
This is the crux of the matter. Should this man who nobody ever imagined could become such a force be allowed to go somewhere? Those who are still in shock over his meteoric rise will not accept that. They are bent on creating the impression that Peter is going nowhere. Where the impression does not stick, a change of strategy is required. This consists mainly in demonizing him. He has to be maligned with a load of scurrilous whiff. That explains the barrage of anti-Obi drivel that has become the hallmark of a section of the media.
What is the content of the menu they are serving? In recent weeks, a good number of media men and commentators who are loyal to Bola Tinubu, the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, have made conscious efforts to undermine the candidature of Peter Obi, the Labour Party presidential standard-bearer.
The anti-Obi elements have painted him in lurid colours. Some of them did not stop there, they strayed farther afield to drag his Igbo ethnic group into the fray. Rather than acknowledge his pan-Nigerian disposition, Obi’s traducers have mischievously tried to project him as an Igbo candidate who should be shunned by non-Igbo Nigerians.
In fact, they have tried to sell the impression that Peter and his Igbo ethnic stock are not deserving of the presidency. But this piece of blackmail has not worked. It is too lame to deserve any consideration by rational beings. But the Obi traducers are still digging in. They have, in extreme cases, packaged and sold him within their narrow confines as a member of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). They believe that the IPOB tag will be a stigma that can undermine his presidential bid.
But that has still not worked. That may explain the recruitment of some ethnic lawyers who have gone to court to stop Obi’s supporters from staging a peaceful march in Lagos State in support of his candidature. Bereft of sense and substance, the howlers have told the court that Obi’s supporters are one and the same thing as #EndaSARS protesters of 2020 and should, therefore, not be allowed to march across Lagos State.
The stupidity inherent in this charge is crying to high heavens for containment. Can a people or group be this petty? Such bunkum. What crime has Nigeria committed to be cursed with this band of nation-wreckers? I shudder at their lowness and hollowness. They are an embarrassment to the civilized world. Those behind the suit are the real gangsters that the system should get rid of. They are sowing seeds of discord. They have to be stopped in their tracks before they inflict further damage to the country.
The obvious fact in all of this is that those queuing behind Tinubu believe that the easiest way to give their principal an edge in the election is to cut Obi down. This strategy is faulty through and through. Those who believe in Obi’s candidature are not likely going to be taken in by these cheap antics. In fact, it could have a counter-productive effect.
To avoid a boomerang, the Tinubu campaigners should look in the direction of their candidate. He requires a lot of packaging for him to penetrate the voters’ market. Those who are interested in his presidential quest should do more to sell him than dissipate energy on running down Peter Obi.
Rather than the ongoing campaign of calumny against Obi, the Tinubu campaigners will be helping their cause if they focus on those positives that can sell their own candidate. They will achieve better mileage with this. Efforts at deriding Peter Obi are not working. Rather, they are becoming jaded and unimaginative. Those who have made this their stock in trade should find a better job to do.
Interestingly, in all of this, the camp of Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is quiet. Nothing is being said or heard about Atiku and his party. Whereas the LP and the APC are at each other’s throats, the PDP and its candidate are luxuriating in a state of unconcern. But are they really unconcerned? Why is it that the APC campaigners are not looking in the direction of Atiku? Do they consider him an easy ride?
Their disposition suggests that Atiku is not a force to reckon with as far as 2023 is concerned. They think he should be left alone. I suspect that Atiku and his camp are enjoying the bickering going on between LP and APC. They must be having a good laugh over the disregard for a candidate who has said time and time again that he has a huge vote bank. The APC, which ignited all the fight against LP, will be doing the approaching campaigns a world of good if its henchmen focus on issues rather than the ongoing guttersnipe rhetoric.
•Amanze Obi is a columnist for The Sun Newspaper.