By G9ija

Since the commencement of the 2023 electioneering season, the term ‘Obidient’ is a slogan that has dominated the media airwaves, especially on social media. Subscribers to the Obidient slogans are Nigerians that are advocates of Chief Peter Gregory Obi, the Presidential candidate of Labour Party. Majority of his supporters are driven by rare display of patriotism coupled with the popular yearning for political change in Nigeria, a handful of his advocates have taken to the extreme of portraying him as an infallible mortal that is at par or a little lower than a sacred deity. To this set of people, it is abominable to criticise, question or express displeasure in Obi’s credentials or candidacy.

Obi, a former governor of Anambra State who until May 23, 2022 was a chieftain of Peoples Democratic Party and Presidential hopeful on the Party’s platform, is portrayed by his promoters as the long-awaited messiah to deliver the country from the calamity brought upon the country by the Muhammadu Buhari led administration. He is marketed as one with a “frugal” personality in terms of spending (perhaps a miser) who will not allow waste of public resources as President, and will ensure that Nigeria has enough in its reserves like Anambra had under Obi’s administration as governor of the state like he (Obi) claimed – though this claim is disputed by his successor, Chief Willie Obiano – but that is a discussion fot another day. Aside his supposed frugality, Obi is portrayed as an incorruptible public officer that has never engaged in financial misconduct while in office. We’ll see how true this claim is!

While I agree with the Obi promoters that Nigeria needs a new political leadership that will rescue the country from its current woes and entrench a working system for sustained improvement of the lives of Nigeria citizens, I disagree with them on the choice of Obi as the ideal pilot to lead Nigeria to greatness. Here is an individual that relies in his personal abilities for leadership. Obi has not made mention of any team that he assembled to work with whether while as governor of Anambra state. Even as the candidate of Labour Party, he has no known campaign team (structure) aside Chief Doyin Okupe. Whenever he speaks, he is always about self. The implication here is that as President he will the typical ‘Mister Know-it-all’ leader, which will be counterproductive to the expectations of Nigerians. But that is not my biggest concern about Obi.

While most citizens are demanding for devolution of power to the grassroot through restructuring of the Nigeria political system, Obi does not come across as a President that believe in power devolution. His record as Anambra State governor shows a man that does not believe in the third tier of government; which is supposed to be the closest to the grassroot. While the Constitution of Nigeria empowers State Governments through their State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) to conduct council elections for this tier of government, Obi who became Anambra State governor in March 2006, wilfully elected to run the local government through appointees under the nomenclature of Caretaker Committee in flangrance disobedience to the Constitution. Obi’s refusal to conduct council elections drew the anger of stakeholders within and outside Anambra state, including the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) that he was not just a member but the Vice Chairman. The NGF in its report on Peer Review Mechanism that was released on March 18, 2013 (Obi 7th year in office) decried the action of Obi as undemocratic. Mr. Afeikhema Jerome, who was the National Coordinator of the State Peer Review Mechanism NGF, went further to appeal to Anambra Government under Obi “to urgently set the machinery in motion and conduct credible local government elections”.
(please find Premium Times report on the story here: https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/127070-ngf-scolds-anambra-ekiti-16-others-over-non-conduct-of-council-polls.html).

inspite the scolding by NGF, Obi still refused to conduct Council election. He waited until 2 months to the expiration of his tenure (ten months after release of NGF report) to eventually conduct it. Specifically, the election was conducted on 11 January, 2014. In other words, Anambra State had no functional governments at the local government level for 7 years and 10 months out of the 8 years of Obi’s reign. Many believed that the council election was hurriedly conducted by Obi so as to get necessary structures on ground to mobilize for votes for Chief Willie Obiano, his anointed candidate for the 2014 gubernatorial election of the State.
(See PT publication on NGF report: https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/127070-ngf-scolds-anambra-ekiti-16-others-over-non-conduct-of-council-polls.html). If Obi as Governor stifled the local government system in his state, what magic will he bequeath Nigeria as a whole with respect to power devolution?

Nigeria is plagued with insecurity, terrorism, banditory and insurgency that citizens cannot live their lives freely due to fear of the men of the underworld. The country is in dire need of a leader that will change the tide; but is Obi competent enough to handle such burden? Let’s see how he handled similar issue in Anambra State.

As Governor, Obi faced the Biafra agitators under the banner of Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, and led by Mr. Ralph Uwazuruike. Obi’s solution to address the MASSOB agitation was a declaration of an undemocratic “Shoot-at-sight” order on MASSOB members. The order, which which drew condemnation by many, was issued in June 2006 (3 months into his government), and also extended to members of NARD and “other hoodlums” in the State. As a consequence of the order, security forces combed Onitsha, Nnewi, Oba, Ihiala and environs and were alleged to have shot, killed, and maimed anyone suspected to be member of MASSOB. On 20th January 2013, residents woke up to discover over 40 floating corpses in Ezu River located in Amansea, Awka, Anambra State. Following the discovery, MASSOB through its spokesman, Mr Uchenna Madu (now factional leader of MASSOB), released a statement on 10 February 2013, identified the corpses as that of its members that were arrested by DSS and handed over to Police on November 9, 2012 but disappeared afterwards. He identified some of the bodies as; Basil Ogbu, Michael Ogwa, Sunday Omogo, Philip Nwankpa, Eze Ndubisi, Ebuka Eze, Obinna Ofor, Joseph Udoh and Uchechukwu Ejiofor. Excerpt of the statement reads;

“MASSOB with deep sense of grief and sorrow wishes to inform Mr. Ban Ki Moon (UN Secretary General), President Goodluck Jonathan, US president, Barrack Obama, United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) and Amnesty International about the gruesome murder of MASSOB members by the Special Anti Robbery Squared SARS, of Nigeria Police Force, Awkuzu Anambra State. Some of our disguised members and family relations of the detained members were denied access to them. Efforts by our counsel to secure their bail from the police were futile. Our demands for their arraignment before a competent court of law were frustrated by SARS officers. We got information from an insider at SARS headquarters, Awkuzu that armless MASSOB members detained at SARS were secretly killed alongside other robbery suspects. Our lawyers, who confidently waited for their arraignment in January 2013 did not believe that such barbaric, primitive and wicked act could happen because, according to them, a comprehensive police reform on Human Rights was being carried out by the new Inspector General of Police.”
(Ref YNaija: https://ynaija.com/bodies-floating-in-river-are-our-members-secretly-killed-by-security-agents-massob-graphic-image/)

Mr. Uchenna Madu again in November 2013 indicted Governor Peter Obi as being responsible for the killing of MASSOB members through his “Shoot-on-sight” order and even vowed to arrest him afer his gubernatorial tenure. In his own words: “We hold Peter Obi responsible for the killings. This reminds us about the 2006 shoot-on-sight order by Governor Peter Obi who massacred about 2,000 MASSOB members. We shall arrest him and pay him back in his own coin in our own way immediately he steps down as the governor because his recent action of killing MASSOB members will heavily affect APGA chances of winning this election.” Madu spoke on November 14, 2013 while reacting to killing of MASSOB members by security forces the previous day.
(ref: https://www.cknnigeria.com/2013/11/we-ll-arrest-peter-obi-after-leaving.html?m=1)

On April 12, 2014, Mazi Chris Mocha, the Deputy Publicity Secretary of MASSOB released a statement on behalf of Uwazuruike fingering Obi alongside Chief Achike Udenwa (former Imo state governor 1999-2007) and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo of ordering killings of MASSOB members extrajudicially. An excerpt of the statement reads; “Mr. Peter Obi and former Imo State governor, Dr. Achike Udenwa, had ordered the killing of MASSOB members between 2003 and 2006 and would be tried in court in due course. Obi had on May 11, 2006 under the Presidency of Olusegun Obasanjo deployed over 200 federal troops most of who were of Hausa and Fulani tribes to Onitsha and issued a shoot-at-sight order to them. Thousands of our members were killed, including a pregnant woman and 65 others still missing,”

Clearly, Obi could not manage the insurgency in Anambra State as governor, how much more that of Nigeria that is more complex with religious and ethnic coloration?

Another concern on Obi is his alleged abuse of office in the management of public funds and dishonesty in the forms with respect to failure to declare some assets that he had interest in before the Code of Conduct Bureau. Dishonesty is one character that is not expected of a President that is determined to effect change positively.

Peter Obi is among the public figures that were indicted by Pandora Papers of financial misconduct. Specifically, he was said to have of used the name of his daughter, Gabriella to set up discreet Company named Gabriela Investments Limited in 2010 (during his 4th year in office as Anambra Governor) in British Virgin Island through a local registered agent, Aleman Cordero Galindo & Lee Trust (BVI) Limited (Alcogal). Acces International, a notorious firm located in Monaco facilitated the deal. Peter Obi was also fingered to own other offshore companies that he hid in secrecy. He equally had interest in NEXT International (UK) 14 months into his term as governor: which is contrary to the law. Worse is, he didn’t declare these assets before the Code of Conduct Bureau; a statutory requirement for public officers. As reported by Premium Times, Obi equally admitted to operate offshore businesses and maintained foreign accounts while as Governor – in disobedience to the Constitutional provisions.
(Read more on this: https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/headlines/487997-pandora-papers-inside-peter-obis-secret-businesses-and-how-he-broke-the-law.html).

Penultimate to 2015 election, many refused to x-ray the suitability of Muhammadu Buhari because we were carried away by the “Change” slogan of APC, we cannot afford to repeat same blunder with the “Obidient’ slogan in 2023. Sloganeering do not translate to good governance and better welfare for Nigeria citizens.