By Prof. Fidelis I. Agwulonu (Rev. Fr)
The Weeping Poet, John Pepper Clark-Bekederemo’s 1970 post civil war poem, “The Casualties”, affirmed that “we are all casualties.” In today’s Nigeria, people have characteristically become ‘OBIdients’. One could say, like Clark-Bekederemo, that “we are all ‘OBIdients’.” ‘OBIdients’ are voluntary followers of the political ideology of Mr Peter Gregory Obi, the former Governor (extraordinaire) of Anambra State, Nigeria.
He has refused to offer a dime ‘shishi’, in contrast to the auctioning of the votes as seen in the previously held national conventions of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC). Obi has become the 2023 Marcus Garvey of the (Federal Republic of ‘OBIdients’), hopefully leading them to a new Nigeria. They meant it when most of them sang: “Carry me dey go, Peter Obi carry me dey go for better Naija.”
The first cadets of this moral army were the netizens (citizens of the internet), the Generation Z, who were charmed by Peter Obi’s mantra: “Go and verify”. If eternal life had been preached the way Peter Obi is being preached, the ‘Kingdom’ would have come since June 2022. Senator Chimaroke Nnamani could not manage the frustration of a regular politician, and declared the Generation Z as intolerant, rude, condescending, intellectually averse and shallow. One respondent to Nnamani’s July 7, 2022 outburst was Rev Fr Ted Onumaegbu.
He said: “For a Nigerian elder politician who characteristically has always breathed down so hard on the young, who views the younger generation with deep-seated suspicion, and who doesn’t know the difference between the www. of an internet and the https:// as the protocol that brings the internet to billions of users, all of these young people with so much knowledge are “rude, intolerant, condescending…. Yes, Gen Zs are cute, knowledgeable, they think in hashtags, twitter and Instagram. Oh, one more thing: they are the quintessential ‘copy and paste’ generation.” One cannot agree any less than Onumaegbu’s analysis.
They became members of a moral army, not by conscription, option of employment, remuneration, nor status symbol, but united in the drive to reorder and take back a lost country, plundered by the political class, who believe and activate the Nicholo Machiavelli principle: ”Politics have no relation to morals.” This army is desirous of politics guarded by morals and virtue; they believe that prayer goes with action; the hashtag is #TakeBackNaija.
They were derided by the squander-mania political class as being social media noise-makers, who are following a party with no structure, but before one shouted Jack Robinson, the structure emerged. In two weeks, the Independent Electoral Commission recorded well over ten million new registrations for the Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) as at June 27, instant; and the campaign for PVC is massively gaining momentum. It is speculated that age 18-34 make up 39.7% and age 35-49 make up 32.5% (72.2% of registered voters) and this is the bulk of the army. Samson Akintaro on June 27th reported emphatically that the youths accounted for 70% of completed voter registrations (www.nairametrics.com).
The Sri Lanka revolution of July 9th is ripe in Nigeria, but approached in a different manner; not invading the President’s palace and chasing him away, which will result in bloodshed as never seen before, in a polarised country like Nigeria. The Nigerian youths have rather started the long awaited bloodless revolution (the Nigerian BASTILLE DAY) by being ‘OBIdients’ (and lately, ‘YUSful, in relation to the Labour Party Vice- Presidential candidate Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed).
‘OBidients’ belong to PDP, APC, (or any other parties), they may not be partisan nor inclined to any religious or ethnic identity; they have risen above these dividing factors, and have identified themselves with one common goal: to bring back the glories and dreams of a Nigeria once thought of as an African promised land, flowing with milk and honey. ‘OBIdients’ are teenagers, young adults, adults, wrinkled, anyone who ‘hungers and thirsts for uprightness’, justice, equity and fairness in Nigeria. They shall, like the Great Master said, “Be Satisfied” (Matthew 5:6).
This land has been raped (or rather gang-raped) by greedy, visionless, avaricious, heartless managers, beginning from President Buhari who looked away and allowed the pillage, to the unfortunate members of the National Assembly who sold their ‘birthright’ and refused to checkmate the excesses of the government in power, with the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, promising to assent to whatever would be brought to his desk by President Buhari.
There is the tragedy of the judicial mafia, that lost the integrity of the hallowed wig and gavel, allowing the judicial system to almost belong to the whims and caprices of the ruling party, and a property of the executive arm of government, as widely speculated. It got so embarrassing that there had to be a palace coup, that saw to the resignation of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Tanko Mohammed, who is being investigated for financial misappropriation and a host of other allegations. The security agencies became a nightmare, and the nemesis of the common Nigerians who turned a blind eye to the snake that crept into the neighbour’s roof; now the snake’s offspring has spread into every roof in the neighborhood. The cahoots of the Police, Army, Customs and others have allowed the infiltration of ‘repentant’ Boko Haram members into the system, as reported by Ibrahim Adeyemi on July 9, 2022 (www.premiumtimesng.com).
Adamu Aliero, declared wanted by the Police as a bandit kingpin was just crowned Sarkin Fulani (leader of Fulani) by the Emir of Sabon Birnin Yatondo, Zamfara State, amidst heavy Police presence to protect the criminal. Today, Shakespeare’s voice could be heard – Cawdor shall sleep no more, Macbeth shall sleep no more. Little wonder Dr Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed declared that no government in Nigeria’s history promoted corruption like Buhari (Vanguard, July 18, 2022).
The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) always issued Communiqués (as some other groups), harping on the nose-dive mode of the aircraft piloted by the politicians. Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, and lately Nuru Khalid (the Chief Imam of Apo Mosque that was sacked on April 4, instant, for criticising the government), have been vocal, but always criticised in defence of those that pay the pipers.
Interestingly, Kukah openly challenged Buhari’s media men to an open debate on the claimed good governance offered by this administration, and the government quarters have been silent since April 19, 2022. Nigerians need, as a matter of urgency, a detailed report on those displaced, maimed, kidnapped, and killed from the time Boko Haram became a political tool in Borno State, as widely speculated, and especially through April 2015 when President Buhari took over the administration of Nigeria, till date; all classes of citizens slaughtered in broad daylight should be made available. On July 16, another report of two Priests kidnapped in Kaduna State made the headlines, a recurrent shock, just days after Kaduna Diocesan Priests protested the killing of Fr Vitus Borogo.
The failure to bring back Leah Sharibu (and even the remaining Chibok Girls in captivity), the culpable complicity in the recent Kuje prison break, the invasion of the Kaduna International Airport by terrorists who have still been tagged as bandits, the multiple massacre of the Ondo Catholic Church worshippers in June 2022 with no arrests yet; the stoning to death of Deborah Samuel in a tertiary institution, and more.
The daily kidnappings and killings of victims, not forgetting the Abuja-Kaduna railway attack victims, where the Federal Government has shown itself to be emasculated to safeguard the citizens, and arrest the culprits. President Buhari promised security during his campaigns, but like Nero, he has ‘fiddled while Rome burned’.
Nigerians live more in fear today than before, especially after the release of over 800 inmates of Kuje prison by the terrorists, who freed all their jailed members. It happened few weeks after it became public knowledge that the condition for releasing Abuja train victims was to let go the jailed terrorists.
Few hours after the jail break, some kidnapped victims were curiously released. Such coincidences are rare. No one is safe any longer; thus the new mantra: ‘OBIdience’ is better than sacrifice.
On July 14, 2022, the ASUU strike entered the sixth month, with no end in sight, as the Federal Government of Nigeria is not going to blink first. For the umpteenth time the Federal Government has failed to fulfill its promises and financial obligations to the Academic Staff Union of Universities, and stiffled the motivation needed by Nigerian students who were recovering from the previous lengthy ASUU strike of 2021. This Valentine’s gift (as the strike started on February 14, 2022) to Nigerian students, their parents and guardians, by ASUU and the Federal Government, has taken a curious turn, as the ruling party, the All Progressive Congress (APC) has fielded Bola Ahmad Tinubu (projecting a volatile situation of a Muslim-Muslim ticket), whose speech on July 13, 2022, at the political mega rally in Osun State, only added insult to injury, when he publicly said: ‘They will labour till DEATH’ (Vanguard Newspaper, July 13, 2022). This was taking it further from the earlier slogan against the ‘OBIdients’ and Labour Party, that they will labour in vain.
Mr Peter Gregory Obi has replied Tinubu in a refined way, characteristic of himself and which is the yardstick of ‘OBIdients’, thus: “There is dignity in labour…labour members will not labour till death.” There are heightened concerns that if the elections are rigged or auctioned, the President Mohammadu Buhari APC led government will hand over the batton of a continued ASUU strike to Tinubu, who already has poured his venom, his death manifesto on young Nigerian, and they are not taking it lightly. The Punch Newspaper reported a terrified serving Minister, Rauf Aregbesola, harassed by a Nigerian at a cafeteria in the USA (the video is circulating). Incidents as this may continue for those who blossomed with Marie Antoinette’s Louis XVI, while the people starved and died.
By stroke of chance or design, while Tinubu cursed ‘OBIdients’ in Osun State, Mr Matthew Okpebholo in Edo State donated a magnificent building for Peter Obi’s campaign, declaring his happiness in what he was doing, being ‘OBIdient’, maybe, and resolved to employ Mr Peter Obi with the PVC in 2023 with other ‘OBIdients’. In Abuja, Mr Kelechi Abonuyo, Director General of New Nigerians Anchor Point (NNAP) published an article on the redemption mission of this group which has unified nationals from all parts of the country with the same objectives: the choice of a credible candidate for 2023 elections (NNAP is under the umbrella of ‘OBIdients’), and Peter Obi won NNAP’s national election anyway. In Enugu State, a teenager, Covenant Onyebuchi, donated her life savings, an undisclosed amount of money, to Mr Peter Obi, to enhance the electoral logistics that will fast-track his entry into Aso-Rock.
‘OBIdients’ and their motivations were perfectly captured by Channels TV news anchor, Seun Okinbaloye’s powerful speech on July 13, 2022, on the need to not gamble with 2023 elections, as it is a defining moment, when the rest of Africa is waiting for her sleeping giant to wake up and rise. He emphasized that “the nation is choking, it can no longer breathe, there is a shortage of air, we need to allow this nation to thrive…this nation Nigeria cannot be taken as a private enterprise anymore”. There is equally a tweet ascribed to Umar Musa Matazu that says: “Whether you like Buhari or not, you must agree that he improved some industries and sectors in Nigeria: ‘The banditry industry got better; the Federal Ministry of Kidnapping had a big boost; National Agency of Suffering had expanded very well, and is touching everybody. Sai Baba'”, he ended. Last of all, a recent viral video of a dog eating roasted corn, with background voices in Yoruba and pidgin English on the hunger rate in Nigeria would convince a doubting Thomas that something is ‘rotten in the city of Denmark’.
This moral army is determined to take back Nigeria, and the slogan in today’s Nigeria has moved from “No PVC, no food”, to “No PVC, no ‘ze oza’ room”, a serious threat to the men who show laissez-faire attitude towards the PETER OBI movement championed by Youths, Women, the Labour Party, Nigeria Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress, Civil Society Organisations, the Nigerian Students Organisations, and even some Preachers at the pulpit. Peter Obi is also ‘OBIdient’, because ‘OBIdients’ have declared that if he refuses to enter Aso Rock Abuja come 2023, they will carry him and force him on that Presidential seat. In 2023, ‘OBIdients’ believe that it is Peter Obi (with Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed as his running mate) against other party Presidential flag bearers.
Obi knows the problems of Nigeria, which he pointed out by likening Nigeria to the ill-fated Titanic, saying that while the lower class was battling with the sinking ship, the upper class was busy partying, until the whole ship went under, before they could realise it. His knowledge of the solution gave rise to the spontaneous emergence of this moral army, stronger by the day.
Fr Prof. Fidelis I. Agwulonu (Ahiara Diocese) is the Vice Chancellor of UNIVERSITÉ NOTRE DAME DE TANGANYIKA, Congo (DRC); the Dean of Academics, and Head of Departments of UNITATIS UNIVERSITAS SALVATORIS, Virginia, USA.