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Nigeria’s democratic evolution and Peter Obi’s presidential candidature

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 UPON our attainment of political sovereignty in 1960, Nigeria practiced parliamentary system of government with Abubakar Tafawa Balewa taking the post of the Prime Minister, while Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was the president. While Balewa wielded executive power, Azikiwe was a titular or figure-head, who performed only ceremonial functions.

  At that time, which was in the first republic, the major political parties were the Action Group (AG), Northern People’s Congress (NPC), and the National Council of Nigeria and Cameroun(NCNC). AG was to the Western Region what NPC was to the Northern Region. And NCNC was believed to have its stronghold in the Eastern Region. Although they made pretensions to being nationalistic in outlook, they are regional political parties, at best.

  Again, Action Group, a political party founded by Chief Obafemi Awolowo, tended towards the left, which is socialism. Then, Awolowo, who was the premier of the Western Region, practiced democratic welfarism, which was in tandem with socialist ideology. He implemented free education policy in the West, which benefited innumerable Yoruba people, who came from very indigent homes. 

  The major political actors in the first republic, who played politics of ideaswere political ideologues and philosopher-kings. Think about Mathew Mbu, Anthony Enahoro, Osita Agwuna, Mokwugo Okoye, Tafawa Balewa, Obafemi Awolowo, and Nnamdi Azikiwe.

  Chief Awolowo, a mystic and political colossus  earned degrees in Commerce and Law, and wrote books to boot. A well-read man,  Azikiwe was a political scientist , poet, and biographer. His oeuvre covers such genres of writing as poetry, biography and political science. An autodidact, who had only post-primary education got through correspondence, Mokwugo Okoye wrote books on political science, which are classics, today. And Tafawa Balewa held his own in the areas of scholarship and writing. It was he who wrote these astounding works: Shaihu Umar, a fable; Nigeria Speaks, a Polemic.

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  Although the first republic politicians were men of letters and political ideologues, they couldn’t prevent the collapse of the first republic. The first republic failed owing to the existence of disunity among the people(s) of Nigeria. The disunity was caused by ethnic rivalry and suspicion as well as religious intolerance.

  And the second republic was characterised by inept and corrupt political leadership. A political dark horse and lame duck,  Alhaji Shehu Shagari,  was helped to power by kingmakers and northern interests. But the beret boys ousted him from office for reasons not unconnected to inept and corrupt political leadership. Then, the military arrested and tried some state governors. Those found guilty of perpetrating corrupt deeds were given long jail terms.

  The third republic was stillborn because of the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, which was adjudged the freest and fairest election in our political annals. Chief MKO Abiola was the presumed winner of that electoral contest. And the NADECO’s fight for the revalidation of MKO Abiola’s political mandate threw Nigeria into a political cul-de-sac.

  Abdusalaam Abubakar midwifed our transition to civil rule in 1999, after the mysterious deaths of the vampiric and thieving Sani Abacha and moneybags, MKO Abiola. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was handed the baton of political leadership in 1999, marking the birth of the fourth republic. For over 23years , Nigeria has been practicing democracy, with one political party handing over power to another political party, peacefully and seamlessly.

  But in this fourth republic, our political cum democratic culture is characterised by politicians’ perpetration of electoral fraud and financial misdemeanor,  and their promotion of ethnic nationalism and religious bigotry. And since the inception of the fourth republic, political leaderships at different strata of government are rudderless, corrupt, myopic, and inept because a majority of those who possess knowledge, probity, and leadership qualities do not participate in our politics.

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  For example, the infrastructural rot, problem of insecurity, high rate of unemployment, incessant industrial action by university lecturers, and epileptic power supply, which have bedeviled Nigeria, are incontrovertible proofs that governance has been put in abeyance in Nigeria.

  And the arrest, trial, and conviction of James Onanefe Ibori, a former governor of Delta State; Reverend Jolly Nyame, an erstwhile governor of Taraba State; and Mr. Joshua Dariye, a one-time governor of Plateau State are pieces of evidence that our politicians contest for exalted political posts for reasons that are not altruistic.

  So, not unexpectedly, during the APC and PDP’S presidential primary elections, the presidential aspirants of both political parties engaged in political chicanery and duplicity, vote buying, and arousing of ethnic and religious sentiments.  The PDP’S presidential aspirants’ engagement in those duplicitous, criminal, selfish, and unpatriotic deeds negate the political philosophy and morality-code of Mr. Peter Obi, a former governor of Anambra State. He found their deeds detestable, despicable, abhorrent, and weird.

  Playing true to type, Mr. Peter Obi, who used to be a top member of PDP, switched political party, and joined the Labour Party. He is, now the presidential candidate of the Labour Party. Since his political sail found anchor on the sea shores of the Labour Party, the popularity of that party has soared with some political big cheese joining the political party to swell its ranks.

  Now, Mr. Peter Obi’s genteel and civilised way of politicking, his espousal of his political philosophies, and narration of his leadership odyssey has endeared him to the masses. His speeches, which are music to our ears, have found resonance among the youthful segment of Nigeria’s population. Obi’s countless supporters, who call themselves the OBIdient , have taken over the cyberspace where they are propagating his ideologies and promoting his political candidature.

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  Seized by Obi-mania, Obi’s supporters are mobilising support for him nationwide for gratis. Now, a majority of Nigerian youths have cottoned on to the idea of the significance, importance, and the imperative of helping Mr. Peter Gregory Obi, the Labour Party presidential candidate, to win the 2023 presidential election. Their rooting for him, which is based on their perception of him as our political Messiah, is a seismic quake that will change our political landscape and ignite the evolution of our political culture. Is revolution not already afoot in Nigeria now? So whether Mr. Peter Obi wins the 2023 presidential election or not is immaterial to us.

  But he stands a great chance of emerging the winner of the 2023 presidential contest, if the election will be free and fair. I have been resisting the urge to start addressing Mr. Obi as the incoming President of Nigeria.

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