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2023: ‘Obidients’ in a tough status quo challenge

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As political parties commence electioneering campaigns for the 2023 general election in the next two weeks, it is becoming moments of anxiety and tension.

The energy, being displayed by the youths both in Nigeria and diaspora, appears unprecedented.

The momentum is growing among the youth for the candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi on social media space.

On Saturday, supporters of Obi shut down Enugu State capital in their one-million-man march, which commenced at the Michael Okpara Square and grounded vehicular movement within the metropolis.

Speaking to journalists, Dr Chima Edoga, Co-Director planning committee, Enugu one-million-man fitness march for Obi Season One, described the rally as a huge success, stressing that “Nigerians are demonstrating their resolve to retake their country.”

Earlier, on Saturday, September 3, the streets of Ibadan, Abeokuta and Nnewi were filled with mammoth crowds in solidarity with the LP flagbearer ahead of the 2023 presidential election.

This development is a gesture to change the narrative that supporters of Obi are only on the internet.

However, Nigerian politics is determined by party political structure, stakeholders, and patronage, unless there is a strong “paradigm shift” far beyond what is normal.

A candidate must get 25 percent of votes in two-third of the 36 States of the country, which is 24 States of the nation.

A Professor of Political Science, Prof Bolaji Omitola while speaking with DAILY POST noted that “the Obidient movement is not just about Peter Obi; look at the demography; the people called Obidients are mostly the youth. When you engage them on issues, most of them don’t have the political history of Nigeria, they don’t understand some of the precedents of this country.”

But according to him, “the youths are looking for someone that, at least, can be portrayed differently from the establishment.”

When asked if Obi can win the 2023 presidential election, Omitola said “the Obidient must go beyond imagination and the normal way of Nigerian politics.”

“But looking at the structure of Nigerian politics, the way things are, it will be near possible for Obi to become President. You need structure, local notables, and patronage, that is the nature of our politics. But if you have a paradigm shift far beyond imagination, then it is possible,” he said.

In the same vein, a lecture from Political Science at Fountain University, Mojeed Animasahun also analyzed the need for political structure while describing the Labour Party as a “fringe party”.

According to him, nobody can say it is impossible for anybody to become president, in a democracy, stressing that, “Peter Obi became a force because of his followership on social media, and I wish they can translate those support to vote for him to be a president.”

Animasahun continued that, “party labels are very important in winning elections. The Labor party is a fringe party, the only State the LP has governed is Ondo.

“He needs 25 percent of votes in 24 States, this will be extremely difficult for Obi to gather. Even in the South-East that is his stronghold, he will have to battle Atiku Abubakar because PDP is very strong in the region likewise the South-South.”

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