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It Has Never Been About Peter Obi

It Has Never Been About Peter Obi

Before the 2023 campaign, I wondered how Peter Obi would still maintain his style of politics. I wondered about the figure through which Nigerians would see Peter’s projection. The Labour Party is already a politically formed block. It would be difficult for Peter to play his kind of politics on new ground. However, some humans are incredible. Peter Obi is. He still found a way to be the Peter Obi we all know.

Peter Obi is a different breed of politician. I can describe his style as playing the underdog. And because simplicity is his true nature, Peter finds it easy never to be the mark.

Peter Obi’s First Political Attempt

2002 was the first time anybody I know noticed Peter. Some said he was a trader. Others who knew him so well said he was a bank manager with Fidelity Bank. And some said he was the son of Nado. We know Nado but not this Nado’s son. Some of Nado’s grandchildren were our schoolmates in DMGS. There were some buildings in Onitsha that we know belonged to Nado. One was at the junction of Oranye Street by Old Hospital – and that’s my neighborhood. But then, in Onitsha, none of the definitions showed the actual status of the man. But nevertheless, all were right.

In 2002, Peter started his campaign by pointing out all that was wrong in Anambra State. He covered the whole of Onitsha with a poster where he held his chin and looked directly at whoever stared at the poster no matter your angle. His picture covered two third of the poster and the quotation took the remaining space. There was no party logo or political party’s name on his poster. Just him and the quotes. The most popular of the quotes is:


Peter Obi And Ojukwu In APGA

And when the campaign started, Peter became the flag bearer of APGA. And during his campaign, Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu was the figurehead of the movement.

Then, Anambra was in the hands of hoodlums. One group was with the incumbent Governor, the other group was in the ruling party PDP. With no structure in Anambra State, there was no way APGA could wrestle the cabals in power. But Peter Obi aligned with Dim Chukwuemeka Ojukwu (Ikemba) – and that made the whole difference.

Dim Ojukwu represented the struggle in Igbo land. Though political, he was never seen as a man who was hungry for power. His attempt to contest for the presidency was more of projecting the Igbo image. And when people saw Ikemba in Peter Obi’s train, we saw liberation.

After Peter Obi’s first tenure, he didn’t force himself on the people. We believed we could push him away at will, and the politicians were willing to do that. But before the plot matured, a billboard was mounted at ABS junction. It had pictures of Peter Obi and Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu. On it was written:

Vote Peter Obi, This Is My Last Wish.

Last wish? Does it mean Odumegwu Ojukwu would die one day? That was the first time I thought of Ikemba as a mortal. He has always been larger than life. And true to his word, he didn’t ask for any other thing before he joined Sir Louise Ojukwu, his father.

And when Ikemba died, Peter Obi immortalized him. He raised his statue at the entrance of Onitsha towards the Bridge Head, and place another at the Nkpor roundabout. APGA became the soul and spirit of Ojukwu and Peter planted him in the heart of the people.

Peter Obi And Dr. Alex Ekwueme

By 2017, Peter has left APGA and joined PDP. He championed the campaign of Oseloka Obaze. He was already a big figure and could project himself as the image of the campaign, but he did not. Rather, he reached out to Alex Ekwueme. Alex who was a former Vice President of Nigeria was an agreeable figure, a gentleman. He was in PDP but never caught in the web of their controversy. Peter wasn’t lucky with the new Brand figure he adopted for Anambra PDP. Alex Ekwueme fell sick and later died.

So, in 2023, I thought Peter Obi has exhausted the list of brand ambassadors. Who in Nigeria today can he project for us to see deeply his message? But the spots make the tiger and a Peter Obi cannot run his campaign without an image.

Yes, he did it again. And this time with the youths of Nigeria. Just like he was the candidate of Dim Chukwuemeka Ojukwu – the struggle; just like he tried with Dr. Alex Ekwueme – the uncontroversial; he became the candidate of the people in peril – and that makes the difference.

It has never been about Peter Obi.


Ozii Baba, a TedX Speaker, is an Onitsha-based storyteller and social entrepreneur. He works directly with children and young people.

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