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Obi: The intentional regionalization of a country’s beacon of hope

While Sam Omatseye is taking a forceful vacation from the backlash he incurred from his recent baseless attack on the person and aspiration of the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, it became the turn of one Jesutega Onokpasa to take the increasingly toxic platform of The Nation newspaper to impugn the claims the Anambra-born business king and politician is making to Nigeria’s highest political office.

Omatseye’s baleful “Obi-tuary” headline has lived its distasteful short life, interred, as it has been, in a hail of angry condemnations by peeved Nigerians, but it seems that The Nation, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s political propaganda machine is devising new ways, even if devoid of value, of ridiculing the dreams and hopes Peter Obi represents.

After reading the article by Onokpasa, titled, “What is Peter Obi really up to?”, I did a random check on Google and could not find anything useful about the writer except that he is a businessman based in Warri, Delta State. Other stuff about him is not worthy of even a cursory read. The article itself is also empty of facts, and it would seem the only thing that qualified it to be published and promoted lavishly on Social Media was its presentation of Peter Obi in the negative.

Just before I dissect the points Jesutega futilely attempted to advance, it is important to draw the attention of those who have been blowing the trumpets of Peter Obi of the sister landmines that have been laid for them, and which they are all, in righteous ignorance, stepping on.

I have been keenly observing the direction the campaigns for the 2023 elections is being cleverly twisted to take and can rightfully say that the number one objective of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and of course, the strategists in the Tinubu campaign office, is to progressively condition the minds of Nigerians across all the regions, that Peter Obi is a mere regional tiger, with no footprints in other parts of the country.

Obi has been tagged a “closet IPOB.” In fact, Sam Omatseye highlighted this in his now villainous intervention. All these are very intentional efforts to carve a centrifugal stature of Peter Obi. There have been many of such examples, and if history will serve as reference, this strategy is not new.

To ensure this comes to be, members of the Tinubu vuvuzela club have selectively been creating content designed to provoke Obi’s Igbo tribesmen into angry reactions, and once this happens, the next is the emergence of a horde of hired hands on the social media, pushing narratives of a caustic Igbo trolling a harmless and innocent Tinubu. There have been many efforts in this regard. Luckily, it has not been as effective as the design intentions prescribed, but I am aware that, given the marathon that the campaigns will be ahead of 2023, this drive will be sustained to ensure that those who love Obi in other regions will be discouraged from voting because of the contrived regional candidature of a man whose footprints of philanthropy spread all across the country.

Obi has been tagged a “closet IPOB.” In fact, Sam Omatseye highlighted this in his now villainous intervention. All these are very intentional efforts to carve a centrifugal stature of Peter Obi. There have been many of such examples, and if history will serve as reference, this strategy is not new.

During the campaigns for the US Presidency between 2018 and 2019, Donald Trump hired a digital agency, Cambridge Analytica, to help him on the road to victory. Faced with the uphill task of upsetting a former senator, White House veteran, former Secretary of State, and wife of a former President, Hilary Clinton, Trump knew he stood no chance in an open contest of ideas and issues. Rather than work on becoming versed in campaign rhetoric, Trump deployed his agency to be sending “disappearing emails” to most of Clinton’s supporters, emphasizing how she was crooked and untrustworthy.

Cambridge Analytica was so good at this rogue job that people who hitherto supported Mrs. Clinton got so annoyed that they abstained from voting on election day. They could not bring themselves to go out and vote for Donald Trump, but they could not also risk voting for Hilary, whom they just have been made to discover, was “crooked.”

The consequence was an electoral victory that almost cost America all of its credentials as the world’s beacon of democracy. While Hilary Clinton’s supporters refused to go and vote, Trump’s supporters voted in their numbers and that was how Clinton lost many of her traditional bases and the election.

Cambridge Analytica has long ceased its operations and entered bankruptcy, but its modus operandi are lessons that have apparently been learned by a few people in Nigeria as preparations for 2023 gathered steam quite early. For instance, while the people Peter Obi is up against have been screaming themselves hoarse that Obi’s support remains only on Social Media, the same people are daily recruiting influencers with the sole objective to dilute the soaring influence of the Labour Party, singularly influenced by Obi’s personality. I am also aware of data mining efforts, not exactly similar to what Steve Bannon and his group did at Cambridge Analytica, but also not too different.

The idea is to increasingly tag Obi an Igbo irridentist, thereby luring away his supporters from other parts of Nigeria. Any person who has not seen this pattern is not following the election closely, reason the central command of Obi’s campaign, if there is any at the moment, should sieve the momentum so far generated before the soaring popularity of their candidate is manipulated to shrink to the dance of a few.

I had to do this because it was clear to me that this Jesutega Onokpasa was also attempting to reinforce the same objective. There is nothing in his article that is new. But the guiding rule of all pernicious propaganda is to be pluralistically repetitive. If many people from different places appear to be echoing the same thing about a person or an issue, the chances of people believing it increases quite rapidly. Advertising works in much the same way. The more you repeat same advert, the more people remember it and that also has a direct correlation to increased patronage.

Jesutega, I must say, was very pathetic in his very brief article, although I am sure he must be pleased with himself, having found his name in print. In one breath, he said he was sure Obi is qualified to be president, but in the same sentence, he claimed he did not know “how such an astonishing miracle could occur.” He went on to say rather strangely that Obi does not know how to work with people and has never been able to assert himself as a political leader.

This is a very horrible untruth. Peter Obi won elections twice in Anambra State and was able to assert his policies of low-cost government on the people for eight years, emerging without any corruption blemish. Perhaps, Jesutega’s idea of assertiveness is the type of highhandedness that has become the way of political leadership in Nigeria. That is not the Obi style, and I also believe that is the turn Nigeria is desperately in need of making

He also talked about how Obi was “supposed to be able to navigate the minefield of Nigerian politics when he failed so woefully in politically establishing himself in Anambra, just one of its thirty-six states?” This is very unfortunate. At a time Nigerians are speaking of increasing civility in its politicking, someone in Delta State is suggesting there are minefields that need navigating. If we are to play politics based on issues, what will make the political space so dangerous as to be compared to a field full of landmines?

I do not want to even respond to his claim that Obi could not command the loyalty of the legislators in the 21 local government areas in Anambra State. It says a lot about Jesutega’s orientation and suggests he s rooted in the maximum rulership kind of government that every Nigerian detests.

A governor is not supposed to command the loyalty of legislators. That is the definition of tyranny. Legislators are supposed to act as CHECKS on the governor, and any governor who seeks to control the parliament is deemed to be anti-people. The misrule we have witnessed in the past decades in Nigeria has been fueled by legislators being a pliable extension of the governor. We are at a point where an independent legislature should be pursued with collective national vigour. Loyal legislators are essentially not democratic. Does Jesutega know this?

If Obi wins and becomes President of Nigeria, his good works will speak for him, if he does good, and it would not matter if he has one, two, three, or even no legislators in his party. He ruled Anambra with a minority House of Assembly membership, but he was able to work with them, surviving two impeachment attempts and going ahead to build, through goodwill and people-oriented programmes, a base for his political party, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). The party he left behind in Anambra has continued to dominate the government of the state ever since, producing two governments consecutively and going on to become the majority party, long after he was gone.

How else should a governor be assertive if not to build such a lasting legacy that, as far as political leadership is concerned, has consistently defeated the two behemoth parties in every election in the state?

It is true, like Jesutega pointed out, that Peter Obi has no politician of note in the southeast behind him. But this point that he raised in ignorance, missed two very key facts. The first is that, the writer forgot that when he contested for the governorship of the state, Obi had no political leader in Anambra State behind him. He presented himself to the people, laid out his plans and programmes, and got the votes of the people. This was enough. His contract was with the people of the state and not with any comity of political godfathers. And that was why he never let the people of the state down throughout his tenure.

Secondly, Jesutega thinks Peter Obi is running for the Presidency of Anambra State. That is not correct, no matter how desperate the efforts to tag him as a regional champion. He is running for the presidency of Nigeria and does not need political leaders from any particular region to usher him into the arena. He is presenting himself as a Nigerian with solutions to our collective problems as a nation. He is not going to Abuja to solve Anambra’s problems. He is going to solve the problems of Mustapha, Adebayo, Okechukwu, Nsikak, Amina. Terngu, Akenzua, Timi, Abdulmalik, Aisha, Useni, Nenritdung and, if I may add, Jesutega. This is the space Peter wants Nigerians to get him into, and the sooner this is realised, the easier this election will be for all of us.


Ikem Okuhu is a journalist, a Public Relations professional, brand strategist and teacher. With a career that traversed Print Media, Oil & Gas, Banking and entrepreneurship, Ikem is the author of wave-making book; PITCH: Debunking Marketing’s Strongest Myths, a dispassionate exposition of the dos and don’ts of successful engagement in the marketplace, especially the Nigerian marketplace. He is the founder/publisher of BRANDish, Nigeria’s first nationally circulating Brands and Marketing magazine. He has also handled the PR and reputation management consultancies for a number of brands, businesses and public figures.

  • Ifunanya

    If people can read and understand what is here I think we can do the needful without anyone convincing us.thanks Mr okuhu may ur God protect ur abition n life

    August 11, 2022 at 5:30 pm Reply
  • Prof Tony Onyishi

    Ikem, bravo for this trenchant rejoinder to the intellectual gibberish of two Delta political hirelings. Sam Omasetye’s intellectual servitude has a long history; I remember vividly that in the hey day of Jonathan’s regime I had to put a call to him and forthrightly condemned his pernicious laceration of that regime in a manner that clearly suggested self-serving vendetta. He made feable attempt at rationalizing his toxic stance but I made up my mind that he is just a hatchet man in the highly revered 4th estate of the realm. Now that he has come across as a poster child of “stomach infrastructure” journalism, at a time his hitherto innocent fans were looking forward to a delectable valedictory from him, let his departing lot be so recorded.

    August 11, 2022 at 7:20 pm Reply
  • Ezeh Chidiebere

    Ikem thanks for another eloquent and clear disection of the national politicàl discuss of the traditional political class in trying to reduce the national rising profile of Peter Obi’s unusual foray in dymistification of our usual cash and carry politics ….you know what I find most absurd, this idea of tokenism and belittling of the Igbos by our brothers from the BATs camp . If they are not telling us we are ungrateful to Tinubu by not supporting him after all be did to Igbos in Lagos by providing free land for them to build houses and markets etc.or they are telling us how to Atiku after picking Obi as running mate in 2019. It’s on record that since Atiku started contesting for president he had always garnered around 3million votes until he picked Obi in 2019 when he scored 11million votes. I am obidiently Yusuful, I believe both Atiku and BAT might be better than Buhari when it comes to governance and knowledge of Economy and buisness. However I believe in competency, physical fitness and sound health,equity and justice, as what is required now to save Nigeria. The country stands on the fringe of precipice and there is need for younger pragmatic leader to restart our national fortunes and potentials. We are not talking about parties and partisanship now ,because if we talk about that then,You know PDP has treated south east badly with disdain inspite of years of loyalty and huge electoral capital. But that’s a story for another day. Let the politics Begin. Success is not only in winning ASO rock, no we younger generation from South,are not desperate for that, but desperate to kickstart the philosophy of Productivity and prudent management of resources. There is no longer the proverbial national cake to share. Whoever gets there in 2023 has to fold his sleeves for their a lot of work to do. Nigeria is in peices and that’s why we from the South East offered our best in human resources in the person of Peter Obi. He may or may not win but we will make a big statement in 2023. So help us God

    August 11, 2022 at 9:08 pm Reply
    • Chuks P. C

      Yes Dear; we will make a big statement and God Almighty will help US.

      August 12, 2022 at 8:43 am Reply
  • Okuhu Kachi

    Weldon bro. U just trashed all their baseless argument out.

    August 12, 2022 at 4:07 am Reply
  • נערות ליווי romantik 69

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    August 14, 2022 at 5:18 pm Reply
  • Onyinyechi

    Obidient movement I know!
    More wisdom to you Sir.

    August 14, 2022 at 9:29 pm Reply
  • Alumona Nichodemus

    Good work @ Ikem. I am happy you captured the intention or what the other writers who were presenting Peter Obi in the negative intended to achieve. We need more of this rejoinder going forward. It is important as you rightly pointed out not to allow hired promoters of expired political and economic liability of Nigeria to be recycled in the name of this is my turn.

    August 15, 2022 at 4:29 am Reply
  • כנסו לאתר

    Everything is very open with a really clear clarification of the challenges. It was really informative. Your website is extremely helpful. Thank you for sharing!

    September 20, 2022 at 12:12 pm Reply
  • Chibueze Onah

    Thank you so much for taking out time to dissect this very issue around the mystic behind the persona of Mr Peter Obi, the Labour party’s presidential candidate. The truth is that many of his cynics struggle to comprehend his sudden popularity and acceptability across the geographical, religious and political divides both within and outside Nigeria.
    Thank you once again for providing them with the benefits of a good advice and also the flagging off the hidden machination of the political enemies of the Nigerian state towards the 2023 general election.

    September 26, 2022 at 10:09 pm Reply

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