By Donu Kogbara

The Pied Piper of Hamelin is the title character of a German legend. When I was a schoolchild in the UK, my classmates and I had to learn a wonderful dramatic rhyming poem about the Pied Piper off by heart; and I still remember most of the words 50 years later!

“The legend,” says online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, “dates back to the Middle Ages, the earliest references describing a piper, dressed in multi-coloured (“pied”) clothing, who was a rat-catcher hired by the town to lure rats away with his magic (musical) pipe.

“When the citizens refuse to pay for this service as promised, he retaliates by using his instrument’s magical power on their children, leading them away as he had the rats. This version of the story spread as folklore and has appeared in the writings of the Brothers Grimm, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Robert Browning, (the 19th century British author of the poem I never forgot), among others.

“…Pied piper” has become a metaphor for a person who attracts a following through charisma or false promises.” And there are many theories about the Pied Piper. Some say he was a symbol of hope to the people of Hamelin because he liberated them from a rat plague.

As I watch video after video of Peter Obi being followed by crowds of ecstatically supportive youths, I ask myself whether the Labour Party’s presidential candidate is the Pied Piper of Nigeria.

Well, he’s certainly a symbol of hope and is not short on the charisma front and is currently leading in opinion polls, including one conducted by Bloomberg, a serious international media organisation.

He definitely has a magic touch. The “music” he is playing is attracting millions of youngsters. And he is offering to free this country from an infestation of human rats who belong to the two mainstream political parties that have run the show since 1999!

Some of my relatives and best friends are APC and PDP members; and I can confidently assure Vanguard readers that not all of them are greedy, corrupt, fake, daft, incompetent rats in human clothing!

But it has to be said that too many key members of both parties have performed so horrendously that many voters of all ages are emotionally exhausted and now regard Peter Obi as the only hope.

Does he have what it takes to wrest victory from more powerful opponents and become an effective rat-catcher? Or is he all sweet talk and statistics and no substance and peddling false promises?

Time will tell.

Peter Obi’s fans

I constantly hear Obi’s rivals accusing Obi’s fans of being discourteous and intolerant, especially on social media platforms.

I’ve investigated this accusation and concluded that the rude ones are a minority and no ruder than any other gaggle of political praise singers, here or abroad.

Tinubu and Atiku, the APC and PDP candidates, also have plenty of unpleasant and verbally abusive acolytes. Ditto those who are vociferously campaigning for candidates in other parts of the world.

In the UK and US, foul-mouthed political rants from adherents of different political camps are commonplace and often laced with dangerous racist, anti-Semitic, misogynistic, mendacious rhetoric.

So why single out OBIdients who lack manners when most OBIdients are civil? And why carry on as if mannerless OBIdients are a uniquely obnoxious new phenomenon? And as if they are never provoked by equally mannerless Atiku and Tinubu followers?

I think the issue here is that people don’t expect a political “nonentity” newcomer like Obi to inspire such passion and allegiance, especially since he isn’t paying anybody to support him.

We are accustomed to supporters of the big boys verbally insulting and physically attacking their enemies. I was nearly killed by PDP hoodlums at an APC rally in Rivers State in 2015. The policeman who was standing next to me was shot dead.

When I bitterly complained to PDP pals, they commiserated with me and then told me about similar incidents involving sponsored APC thugs.

And, you can tell that these attacks by PDP/APC are sponsored by powerful Big Men because perpetrators are hardly ever punished.

Obi’s supporters are harmless sheep in wolves clothing by comparison and have yet to embrace gun-toting murder and mayhem! And I’m pretty sure that if they dare try it, they will be locked up.

It’s almost as if because Peter Obi is an “upstart”, some folks are shocked that some of his fans have the liver to be disrespectful and answer back when their man is (often unfairly) insulted!

All this incessant whingeing about the alleged offensiveness of all OBIdients boils down to Igbophobia and snobbery, if you ask me.

If Osinbajo had won…

I have some respect for Bola Tinubu. A few years ago, when he lost his son, my Governor (Nyesom Wike) asked me to arrange a condolence visit. And I did as I was told, via a friend who works for Tinubu.

Tinubu was a very affable host and I was struck by his intelligence.

I have also always been impressed by his famed willingness to promote talented people like Fashola, the former Governor of Lagos State, and Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the current Vice President.

Many Nigerian VIPs have chronic inferiority complexes and prefer to promote mediocre types. Tinubu is not that cheap or thin-skinned.

Also, please note that many Nigerian VIPs are disgustingly mean to those who serve them. But I don’t know anyone who has worked for Tinubu and wound up struggling to cover basic living expenses.

So, yes, I’m sure he has faults and is far from saintly. But he’s definitely above-average on quite a few levels. Legendary even.

HOWEVER, we are all mere mortals and all reach a point at which our mental and physical strengths are obviously waning and it’s time to take a back seat.

And I was very disappointed that Tinubu did not throw his weight behind Osinbajo when the APC was choosing its presidential candidate. His failure to do so has cost APC many votes.

If Tinubu had endorsed the highly accomplished Osinbajo, he would have been hailed for making a smart/altruistic choice and Peter Obi would still be doing well but would be less popular than he is now.

Food for thought!

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