By Mbakwe I. Mbakwe
The Biblical cock has scant crowed thrice and Peter has denied not just his masters but himself as well. Labour Party presidential candidate in the 2023 election, Mr. Peter Obi has now clearly lost out even before Nigerians file out to cast their ballot; this failure is purely of his own making, and he has only himself to blame and no one else. Like the Biblical Peter, who didn’t realize he was denying Jesus until the third cockcrow brought him to his senses, Peter the son of Obi is either blissfully unaware of the failure that has landfall in his camp, or he is a scam artist that knows what game he is playing – making monetary profits off campaign donations. Either way, someone has to bell the proverbial cat. Who will tell Peter Nwa-Obi the truth?
Obi’s uncouth and fanatical followers, the OBIdients are welcome to call for my head for the things I wrote here. But the truth is that “Ndị mmadụ anaghị ekwe ka nwanne ha gba ọtọ n’ahịa.” Only those of us that truly love Peter Obi and are committed to the Igbo cause can be frank with him to the point of alerting him to his diminishing chances and to counsel on how he should proceed.
Far from the prospective seeming candidate who snatched the Labour Party ticket from factional candidate, Chief Diga Ezenwafor at the cusp of party primaries earlier in the year, when the OBIdient frenzy was born, Obi’s popularity has travelled down south faster than a brakeless rickety bus career downhill on an abandoned village road. He has been prematurely demystified even before the campaigns of other candidates turn the heat on him. Like some would say, the bottom fell out of Peter Obi’s container of lies even before he had gotten his tainted goods to the market.
Most prominently. the exposé by Anambra state governor, Professor Chukuwma Soludo, the successor to Peter Obi’s successor as governor of that state, is one that should have made a right thinking-politically savvy candidate pull out of the race, re-assess the damage done to his image, and then decide whether to again contest in the future. Obi’s pedantic response to the weighty issues that Soludo flagged is enough warning sign to those who still think this demagogue has anything of value to add in the growing zeal to rebuild Nigeria. Soludo dismissed Obi’s so called achievements, largely some phantom investments, as “worth next to nothing” and a wrong economic choice for a people ravaged by the kind of poverty that held the state in its grip. The investments were also heavily mired in conflict of interest having been trapped in enterprises that are practically Obi’s family businesses, creating a scenario where the lines between Anambra state’s commonwealth and Obi’s family businesses were inexplicably blurred. It is shocking that all Obi could say was how he has tried his best as a trader and Soludo should now try his as a professor. Such arrogant insistence on not being accountable is one that Nigerians cannot afford to toy with and one that quickly deflated the OBIdient frenzy. People may be desperate for a change in the status quo but certainly not stupid to the point of entrusting the country to someone who has subtly admitted to being an unprincipled greedy trader.
Worse than Obi’s penchant for dubious investment is his dubious manipulation of issues. On one hand is frantically marketing himself as a detribalized fanatic, who is not the Igbo candidate but on the other hand he is obsessively scheming to be accepted as the Yoruba anointed candidate. The miscalculation of this approach is already evident in how he has so far failed to get the blanket endorsement of Afenifere like he got from Ohaneze, a body that is so virulent in its frenzied demand for the presidency to be allocated to an Igbo person that it is not seeing the damage it has visited on the Obi candidacy by such act. Unaware that the Yoruba nation is not mentally programmed as the Ohaneze hive mind tendency, Obi hauled the now controversial Afenifere leader, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, to his rally in Ibadan, Oyo state without the realizing the error – he should have gone there to market himself on a neutral basis instead of pushing to be seen as the Yoruba candidate, something which another candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the All Progressive Congress (APC) is not doing even though he is from the Yoruba nation.
Nwa-Obi deluding himself as the Yoruba candidate is one thing he may genuinely believe, but it is alarming, sufficiently so, for him to think that Nigerians will be oblivious of his Pandora Papers scandal, something for which his peers in other jurisdictions would be in jail for the remainder of their natural lives. Excerpts from a story by Premium Times read, “But beyond the facade of priggish speeches and appearances, an investigation by PREMIUM TIMES has now shown that Mr Obi is not entirely transparent in his affairs as he likes Nigerians to believe…Mr Obi is one of the individuals whose hidden business activities was thrown open by the project. Indeed, he has a number of secret business dealings and relationships that he has for years kept to his chest. These are businesses he clandestinely set up and operated overseas, including in notorious tax and secrecy havens in ways that breached Nigerian laws.” Obi, infamously quipped to reporters who interviewed that “I am sure you too will not like to pay inheritance tax if you can avoid it,” while lying that he was unaware he should declare assets he jointly owned with his family. So, this character is running to preside over the taxes paid by hardworking Nigerians while stashing his own billions of naira in tax havens. This is irresponsible hypocrisy.
Worse than the hypocrisy of not paying his share of taxes while positioning himself to steal even more publicly owned money is the irresponsible double facedness of a separatist-terrorist sympathizer aspiring to lead a united Nigeria. The defunct republic of Biafra, the subject of a bitter civil war is one of Obi’s pet projects – he had openly justified why he would not condemn the separatist Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), which has been unleashing terror attacks as part of its drive to break away the southeast region from Nigeria. Obi is so invested in this terrorist agitation that he structured his campaign activities in the region to comply with a destructive Monday sit-t-home that has been permanently called by the IPOB. In fact, some analysts have been able to articulate how the online/cyber arm of IPOB was the foundation for the OBIdient Movement that Peter Obi’s campaign is built upon. The smoking gun is their resort to threat of violence and abuses they hurl at those not in their camp, consistent with the way IPOB trolls operated on the social media platforms. This clarification has opened the eyes of other persons of other ethnicities that had naively aligned with the OBIdient Movement to reassess their affiliation and they have left in droves.
And there is no forgetting the lies. Obi damaged himself by becoming notorious as that candidate whose “good morning” greeting has to be factchecked. He even lied about doing things he didn’t do as governor of Anambra state. He needs someone to tell him the truth that he didn’t do those things and that someone probably lied to him whilst he was governor and thought he knows it all. His lies got so overwhelming that even those of us that are his kinsmen found them repulsive as such behaviour does not tally with the level of integrity for which Ndigbo is known. These lies damaged his brand and will have consequences at the polls and this would require that he steps back to undo the damage he has done to himself and to the credibility of the Igbo nation.
Even among our people in Anambra state are those who struggle to understand how they will back a man who never treated them as citizens of the state but rather saw and treated them as non-Catholics. People suffered economic losses and humiliation because Saint Obi decided that they are less than human because they are Protestants and Pentecostals, it didn’t matter that they are Christians. Such persons have alerted the nation that an Obi presidency would be fanatically Catholic to the exclusion of other sectarian persuasions. The circuit he has been running to night vigils and morning mass is a sad warning that whatever fanatical tendencies he exhibited as a governor would be amplified as a president and the electorates have since decided that there is no sense in signing up for such a destructive leadership.
In view of the foregoing, it has become crucial to ask who will tell Peter Obi the truth. One can make excuses that desperation made him to lie to Nigerians but how does one rationalize Obi lying to himself that he still stands a chance in spite of these negatives stacked high against him? There is obviously a need for someone, probably older or younger than him to tell him the truth. This is definitely not Peter Obi’s time, so, he should quietly withdraw from the race, return to his former party and support Atiku Abubakar of the People Democratic Party (PDP), who guarantees a faster route to an Igbo presidency. But who will tell Peter the son of Obi the truth?
Mbakwe is a retired educationist based in Enugu.