By Promise Adiele
In Ola Rotimi’s The Gods Are Not To Blame, as King Odewale informs his wife Ojuola that he caught Aderopo red-handed plotting evil against the throne, the reader is aghast with surprise. How could Aderopo, the Obidient, submissive, and unassuming son of Ojuola plot evil against the throne? In the same manner, the Labour Party presidential flag bearer Mr. Peter Obi has been caught in the act doing something. Plotting evil against the throne? No!!! Come with me let’s find out what he was caught doing. So far, events leading to the 2023 general elections in Nigeria indicate a paradigm shift in the country’s political evolution. The blind can see it. Mortar and pestle are aware too. What hitherto seemed impossible or unrealistic has become possible, an undeniable actuality that daily queries every empirical explanation. Suddenly, Nigerian youths have justifiably found their voices with a compelling need to be part of the political process in their country.
The political revolution by Nigerian youths has, in the main, collapsed all boundaries of religion, ethnicity, class, and other amorphous categories employed by the demagogue to divide the polity. Usually, every political season in Nigeria is a time of huge harvest when youths are bought by politicians to achieve nefarious objectives. Millions of Nigerian youths ‘cash out’ not minding the inappropriateness of a politician to hold power. It is a case of ‘money for hand, back for ground’. Peter Obi has been caught trying to change that obnoxious narrative and Nigeria’s socio-political and economic principalities are not happy with him. Today, youths task themselves to raise money for the Obi project. It is refreshing that the ‘we no de give shishi’ philosophy has caught on with millions of Nigerian youths like a fever. That philosophy is deep. It de-emphasizes political patronage, vote buying, profligacy, lickspittle, and all manner of obscenities associated with Nigerian politics.
The origin of Nigeria’s new, guiding philosophy ‘we no de give shishi’ cannot be traced or determined. Who coined it, where and when was it coined? However, the philosophy is not far from the name Peter. When stretched further, it reveals the Biblical encounter of a certain Peter that refused to give any money to a crippled at the Beautiful Gate but promptly made him walk which was what the deformed person needed. For the Biblical Peter, giving money to the crippled was cosmetic and short-term but raising him to walk was more enduring and long-term. Nigerian youths do not need money to support any candidate. The Delegates could afford to do that because they represent a coterie of like-minded predators whose idea of power is crassly subsumed in monetary exchange for positions. Like the crippled at the Beautiful Gate, the Delegates have collected money but are still crippled. Nigerian youths are rejecting money because they want to walk. The youths want to stand on their feet and maximize their potential. It is invigorating and refreshing that Nigerian youths have seen in Peter Obi the need to recalibrate their material consciousness and focus on a realizable, productive, egalitarian country. Who would have thought that the Nigeria youth will repudiate material inducement? Peter Obi was caught trying to engineer a New Nigeria.
If we agree that in the last twenty-three years of Nigeria’s political experience, the country has been crippled by profligacy, waste, embezzlement of public funds, pilfering and plundering of the exchequer, then the ‘we no de give shishi’ philosophy is the antidote to make the giant of Africa walk again. Something new is indeed happening in Nigeria and Peter Obi is responsible. Youths of equitable conscience are proud to be identified with the emergence of a new country. Their conviction is sustained by a rising hope that Nigeria can indeed be better – a time to recover the country’s lost glory criminally tucked away by insatiable traducers of the common people. Peter Obi’s supporters are not induced or paid to do anything. It is simply out of a conviction that a New Nigeria is possible. Nigerians are raising money to erect billboards for Peter Obi. People are donating houses in various states and local governments to the Obi project. Undergraduates are donating money. Market women are not left out. Artisans, labourers, and the jobless are all involved. Nigerians in the Diaspora are competing with one another to donate houses, cars, buses, Lorries and cash in hard currencies. Never in the history of Nigeria did we witness this level of unity and sense of purpose. Perhaps, it happened during MKO Abiola’s time but I was too young to understand the nuances and tensions of political development. Something is indeed happening in Nigeria. Ignore it and ignore the destiny of a country. Peter Obi…this is your plan abi?
Before now, there was an unspoken consensus about the identity of politics in Nigeria as a dirty game. The consensus was that politics came with a predetermined outcome known by those immersed in all the subterfuge associated with the Greek ritual of social participation – in which case it is called democrazy in Nigeria. The decent among us stayed away from political involvement to avoid being contaminated by its inevitable putrid splashes. Thus, over the years, the least among us, in terms of education, morals and historical background, hijacked the political process and enthroned the only culture known to them – criminality of an extended version. Millions of youths viewed political responsibility as a complete waste of time because the powers and principalities of our political culture, those schooled in the Dark Art of politricks will never allow a smooth and fair process to take place. Therefore Nigerian politics have been left in the hands of unstable characters whose understanding of governance finds expression in self-enrichment and impoverishment of the populace. Peter Obi was caught changing the narrative. It is a new beginning. There is a revival of the ebbing hope in the Nigerian project with scenes showing Hausa/Fulani, Igbo, Yoruba, Ijaw, Efik, Urhobo, Christian, and Muslim youths singing and rejoicing for Peter Obi emergence. They are bound by a hope of a New Nigeria, engaging in street walks, spending their money to print clothes, caps, and having fun peacefully with the conviction that the Peter Obi will restore the lost hope of a generation.
Having said all of these, a critical analysis of Nigeria’s political situation is necessary. PDP steamrolled Nigerians for sixteen years and broke all the laws in the books about financial propriety, economic sincerity, and resource management. The party dragged Nigerians into Egypt, that Northern African country reputed for holding the Israelites in bondage for many years. Nigerians rejected PDP at the polls with a collective decision to try the APC in 2015. APC mantra was ‘change’ and because Nigerians desperately needed change even if minimal, they welcomed APC with open arms. Then APC took over. Remember that when the Israelites left Egypt, they walked straight into the wilderness which reminds us of the popular Wilderness Experience. APC’s seven years in power is Nigeria’s version of the Wilderness Experience. In 2023, Nigerians cannot return to Egypt, they cannot remain in the Wilderness. The Promised Land beckons with Peter Obi leading the way. It challenges every identifiable cognitive strand to justify support for Egyptian Bondage Experience under PDP or Wilderness Experience under APC. In 2019, I explained this analogy in an essay published in the Sun Newspaper titled Return to Egypt, remain in the Wilderness or… (google it)
Since APC’s ascension to power, Nigerians have unanimously agreed that the party has plunged the country into the abyss of Hades. Commentators have run out of adjectives describing Nigeria under APC. The logical question is, should Nigerians return to PDP, back to Egypt? Should Nigerians remain in the Wilderness under APC? Or should they march to the Promised Land under Labour Party? These questions naturally arise and should be spared of any ethnic or sectional colouration. It is instructive that within three months of Peter Obi’s emergence as a presidential flag bearer of the Labour Party, he has been caught trying to enthrone a New Nigeria. Is he a saint? Absolutely no!!! But Nigerians want something new different from their Egypt and Wilderness Experiences under PDP and APC. In 2023, the options before Nigerians are clear – return to Egypt under PDP, remain in the Wilderness under APC or march to the Promised Land under Labour Party. The choice is yours.
Promise Adiele PhD
Mountain Top University