It’s been three weeks since Nigerians went to the polls to elect a new president. Four days after the election, the electoral body declared a winner and gave certificate of return to the president-elect. But looking at the general mood of the nation and the reactions of the International Community among other things, it would seem that all is not quite well.
Something is obviously wrong somewhere. The person who purportedly came third in the presidential election has become the toast of the nation. The declared president-elect has issued a couple of statements, but he seems to be struggling for attention. Perhaps he has been taken into iledi as the Yorubas do for a newly appointed Ọba ahead of the coronation ceremony. The other fellow who reportedly came second is completely missing in action.
But the momentum around Peter Obi has refused to go down. If anything, it has multiplied and intensified. The media is courting him everywhere to hear what he has to say. The crowd that shows up wherever he appears is intimidating. Thank-you tours have turned into huge political rallies that sometimes seem to dwarf the real campaign rallies. In fact, it is as if the presidential election is still ahead. Clearly, we can see who the people have chosen, who the People’s President is. Definitely, the last has not been heard about the February 25th event.
The name, “Peter Obi” has suddenly become a positive byword in Nigeria’s socio-political lexicon. He has become the song on the lips of not just his supporters and friends, but also his political enemies. Obi is at the centre of trending conversation everywhere. The international press is talking about him – the supposed loser - in glowing terms, while his opponent, the purported winner of the election is being referred to in not too savoury diction.
I have seen one or two videos where people gather to protest in support of the president-elect. But the scene in these two outings that I watched is less than a child’s play compared to the mammoth crowd that continually show up on behalf of the People’s President. The spontaneity that characterizes the appearance of the multitudes is patently infectious.
But it should be an interesting subject worthy of scholarly interrogation, how that “four people tweeting in a room” have metamorphosed into a movement that created what is arguably the greatest political shock in Nigeria’s history, and that within a very short time. It is a phenomenon that must be investigated, how that “no structure” dismantled long standing political structures across several states of the federation. Scholars should help us unravel how that a man that was said to have stood no chance at the national level took away the chances of far more experienced gladiators who were supposedly masters at the game of creating and controlling political chances.
How did it happen that Obi, an ordinary trader proved so many people wrong, including Charles Soludo, the governor of his home state, who by now must definitely be looking for where to hide his face. We need to research into how a man who is acclaimed to be the most stingy politician in the country wrestled down political juggernauts with unusually deep pockets and took them to the cleaners. The People’s President showed up and money politics took the backseat to prove that people are more powerful than money.
Now, the case is before the court. The judiciary will have to decide whether it was the electoral umpire that is right, despite the incontrovertible and widespread flaws of the process, or the people with all their exuberance. But regardless of what happens, methinks that Nigeria’s political landscape will never be the same again. It is unlikely that we will recover from the ‘Obidient’ wave anytime soon. I think a new Nigeria is upon us. I perceive that the hour is very close by when the people’s president will replace the candidate of the political class. Then, the textbook definition of democracy as government of the people by the people for the people will find full expression in our land.
God bless Nigeria.