May 27th marks exactly one year since Peter Obi left the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for a relatively unknown Labour Party. His action eventually culminated in the birth of the Obidient Movement. One year after Peter Obi made that move, the Obidient Movement continued to wax stronger.
Well, before I proceed to inform my audience of the achievements of this movement, it will not be out of place to define the movement in my own words, in my personal interaction with obidients, and in my capacity as an ardent obidient.
The Obidient Movement comprises of concerned Nigerians who are passionate about the development and well-being of Nigeria. It’s a highly organized group of mostly young Nigerians who are strong-willed, resilient, have coconut heads, and are adamant that a working Nigeria is possible.
In the history of politics in Nigeria, no political movement has been able to achieve the unprecedented feat of the Obidients. In eight months, they rattled the political establishment. The mainstays in Nigerian politics were not prepared for the movement. It was a hurricane never witnessed in Nigeria. It came like a tsunami and retired many established politicians who, at the initial stages, wrote them off.
A few months after Obi declared his candidacy for the presidency, there was a surge in voter registration exercise by INEC. Obedients were able to organize and mobilize thousands of young people to get their permanent voter cards. Obedients slept in INEC offices nationwide just to register and vote. In Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Benin, and other urban areas, INEC was overwhelmed, and the registration process was eventually extended.
After the registration exercise closed, the movement moved swiftly and started the campaigns in style. The precision and pace of the campaigns were mind-boggling, colourful, and fascinating. Noticeably, the one-million-man march was held across major cities, towns, and villages in Nigeria. From Zaria to Ikom and Warri, the obedient youths stood still; they marched and campaigned simultaneously, sending Peter Obi’s message of a productive Nigeria to millions of their countrymen and women in grand style and grandeur.
The Obidients have proved so many Nigerian political hypotheses wrong. The popular belief that elections are not won on social media has now proven to be false. This movement was able to use social media to its fullest. From Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, the Obidients were there. For 72 hours nonstop on Twitter, users raised millions to support their campaigns.
Aside from campaigning online, they flooded every public space, showing people the LP logo and teaching them how to vote and why they should vote for the Labour Party. In markets, ceremonies, and on the streets, they took the Papa Mama Pikin message to millions of voters.
The opposition movement brought something fascinating to party politics. They did not wait for the Labor Party to organize for them. They organized for the Labor Party through their very active support groups. What we have seen in previous elections were cases where politicians funded their own support groups and, in most cases, actively participated in their formations. But the support groups of Obidients were formed, funded, and ran independently of the party and their candidates.
Peter Obi and his movement have elevated the level of discussion in our political campaigns. The Nigerian electioneering process will never remain the same. The era of politicians frying akara on the streets and eating and buying roasted corn in the markets is over. Peter Obi redefined the electioneering process; his actions and inactions led to the introduction of the concept of fact-checking. Politicians are now very careful not to lie to the general public, as opposed to the humongous heap of lies they have fed us since 1999.
The obidient movement has further shown the can-do spirit of young Nigerians. It has elevated the younger folks to the table of decision-making. The political class that has always relegated the role of young Nigerians in the political process has now come to realize that it is no longer business as usual but business unusual. Nigerian youths now realize the role of government in their lives and are now determined to make contributions in the political arena.
After the flawed elections, the political shenanigans and mandate looters who have maliciously kept Nigeria on her knees expected the movement to move on, heal, and prepare for the next elections. Alas, obidients are the very antidote to their malaria. They have remained resolute, calling out the judiciary to dispense justice and protect the constitution of the nation. They have remained undaunted in their firm belief that Nigeria must work for everyone, and it must be in our lifetime.