Home Opinion Edo 2024: Obi’s mistake in Edo and 2027 prospect

Edo 2024: Obi’s mistake in Edo and 2027 prospect

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Presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the 2023 general elections, Mr Peter Obi, has committed a grave political mistake that may come to haunt him immeasurably in 2027.

On Saturday, 15 June, he was in Benin City, Edo State capital, to raise the hand of Olumide Akpata, the candidate of the party, in a show of endorsement and validation for the coming 21 September governorship election in the state.

This was against all entreaties and explanations by concerned Edo indigenes, and in particular, a larger chunk of the vibrant members of the Obidient Movement in the state that the LP made a grave and insensitive error in allowing Olumide, who is from the same South Senatorial District, same Oredo Local Government Area and a family member of Governor Godwin Obaseki (they are said to be distant cousins) to bulldoze his way into emerging as the party’s flag bearer.

Obi allowed himself to be cajoled or possibly hoodwinked to disrespect and disregard the loud clamour by the Obidients in the state for justice, equity and fairness; competence and capacity, character and compassion in deciding who takes over from Obaseki come 12 November, when his second term tenure would end.

Obi’s action was an inexplicable show of political indiscretion and lack of sagacity. It represents a crying exhibition of political naivety, immaturity and total insensitivity or deliberate double standard by endorsing and throwing his weight behind another candidate from Edo South after a 16-year rule out of 24 since 1999. He was told, that Edo Central was yet to produce a governor of the state in these 24 years. It counts for nothing to him.

By so doing, Obi has inadvertently staked his political future in Edo State by reason of this manifest lack of
foresight, discernment or failure to make good and sound political judgments in the state.

Why? Obi was a major beneficiary of the sentiment that was borne out of the cry for justice, equity and fairness, competence and capacity, character and integrity when it became obvious that the South East was going to be short-changed in the selection of a viable presidential candidate for the 2023 election.

Nigerians can testify to the implications of the failure of some major parties to properly manage that preponderance of opinion and sentiment — that power should revert to the South for the sake of justice, equity, fairness and inclusivity.

With that huge sentiment grew a never-seen-before political consciousness and awareness with the moniker – Obidient Movement which swept across the country.

Many people are, therefore, surprised and have been asking, “Why did LP in Edo State jettison the widespread sentiment that power should shift to Edo Central?” While the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) complied with this unwritten agreement, the LP arrogantly and condescendingly ditched it.

It is for this reckless display of double standard by the LP that many Obidients in the state have vowed not to have anything to do with LP in the coming 21 September election. It is not surprising that many of them have dumped the party for trampling on the core values of the Obidient Movement.

A strong voice in the Obidient Movement, Prof Chris Nwaokobia, has severally expressed his total rejection of what the LP stands for in the Edo State governorship election. And very many Obidients have since adopted his argument.

In a Tuesday, 18 June, post on X, another strong Obidient voice in the state and a young public figure, Ogbeide Ifaluyi-Isibor @exquisiteOG, wrote:
“Suddenly those who were sitting comfortably on the fence when we were running all over the place for Okwute now want to tell us how and when to call ourselves OBI-DIENTS. They now want to tell us what’s morally right or wrong because PO has a candidate in the Edo election. Una dey crase”, he fumed, condemning what the LP in the state is doing.

In apparent support of Ogbeide’s position, Kingzune @zune_king wrote, “Most Obidients in Edo state were majorly PDP and PDP sympathisers and were seen as anti-party elements. Yourself suffered such faith of being labelled as anti-party man. Edo Obidients took that road of supporting Obi because of the 3 C’s, Equity, fairness and justice.

“So why tell me as an Edo PDP Obidient not to support Asue who possesses these qualities and more. Outside Edo state Obidient can support Akpata o but don’t push him down our throat. Nor be by force”.

Such has been the resentment and it runs deep within the Obidient Movement in the state and among non-Obidients, too.

There’s no doubt this was one tragic and poorly thought-out political decision Obi has made and the results were instant and very revealing.

He must have been shocked to see the sparse crowd at the venue of the endorsement. He must have been shocked to hear that another faction of the Obidient Movement in Edo State was holding a symposium on that same day, and drumming support for Dr Asue Ighodalo candidate of the PDP in the same election. And he must have been thoroughly shocked and embarrassed out of his wits by the drama that unfolded at the Palace of the Oba of Benin, His Royal Majesty, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, where the revered monarch had to correct, what Olumide himself tagged a ‘mistake’ of calling himself “a son of the Palace”.

If and when he emerges as the flag bearer of the LP or another party in 2027, Obi’s indiscretion and lack of political sagacity in the present scenario in Edo State will no doubt count against him.

George Etakibuebu writes from Benin City.

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