Nigeria`s path to the 2023 General elections is proving a divisive even if highly delectable one. With the country splayed atop a mound of menacing national problems and poised to be pierced through by the pikes of different levels of criminality, those who have failed to recognize that 2023 presents perhaps the final opportunity to redeem Nigeria increasingly run the risk of being left behind.
A titanic tussle
A battle royale is seemingly afoot between the ruling All Progressives Congress, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party and the Labour Party which as the new kid on the block seems to have a hat full of surprises. While the APC is fronting Mr. Ahmed Bola Tinubu, a master strategist as its candidate, the PDP has put together a formidable force in Mr. Atiku Abubakar who is a former Nigerian Vice President. In Mr. Peter Obi, the Labour Party has coupled together a whirlwind which is finally threating to rip the rusty roofs off the top of Nigeria`s reactionary politics after more than twenty years.
The elections are still at least six months away, but by political calculations, time is short and with this recognition, those in the ring are already sharpening their weapons in preparation for what is to come.
The media both the mainstream and the social media have become the become the battle ground where the political parties and their candidates have continued to slog it out at least until the campaigns begin properly.
Obi`s online army
At sixty, Mr. Peter Obi of the Labour Party is the youngest of the frontline presidential candidates by far, and like ship to a beacon, many of Nigeria
s young people are drawn to him. But it is not just about his age which is not even ‘young’ considering how youthful the Nigerian population is. Far from it. The pull lies primarily in the luminous lines he wields like a master fencer. And the miraculous touch he brought to governance in Anambra State which was by far the most politically chaotic state in the early years of Nigerias return to democracy.
Many of Nigeria`s young people, eminently frustrated, internet savvy and with a worldview that transcends the walls of despair erected around them by the wiles of witty but wizened politicians who have mastered the art of public thievery, see in Mr. Obi the only way out of their current predicament.
This has led to many saying that Mr. Obi
s supporters primarily live only on social media where they will struggle to influence the outcome of next years elections. In response, they have chosen to hold the feet of those who have chosen not to see through their prism over the fire, especially on social media
Mr. Reno Omokri was an aide to former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan. Stunned by the manner of the summary defeat handed the Peoples Democratic Party defeat by the All Progressives Congress in 2015, he quickly became an emergency campaigner for good governance and one of the chief hecklers and fiercest critics of the current administration of Mr. Muhammadu Buhari.
He runs an active commentariat both on social and mainstream media where his piercing comments always make the toast or the roast for many depending on whose side one is on. A staunch member of the Peoples Democratic Party, his support for the party and its candidate Mr. Atiku Abubakar was always going to see him excoriate other political parties and their candidates. Doing that however has landed him in hot water with the supporters of Mr. Peter Obi. Their relentless lash has made him cry out in alarm.
On microblogging site Twitter, 98,000 users have signed an online petition calling for the ban of Mr. Omokri from the platform largely for comments made against the person of Mr. Peter Obi. He has also alleged that two of Mr. Obi`s loyalists were caught on camera stalking his family in the United Kingdom.
In a post on twitter, Mr. Omokri said, “The threats are too much. My life is at risk. If anything happens to me, my wife, my children or siblings, the world should hold Peter Obi responsible. He has raised a horde of intolerant and violent Obidients who just want to replace Buhari`s tyranny with theirs!”
Last chance saloon
Mr. Obi has repeatedly warned his supporters against any form of violence and it is not clear that it was his supporters that stalked Mr. Omokri`s family in the UK. However, what is clear beyond doubt is that with the 2023 general elections months away, the polity is considerably heating up. This is perhaps because many realize that Nigeria may have jumped into the last chance saloon.
However, the country remains a democracy. Democracy is about the power of choice and options, and perhaps nothing emblematizes that power as much as elections.
Thus, within an atmosphere of respect and rights, every Nigerian no matter their preferences must be allowed to express themselves without any form of harassment or embarrassment.
It is only then that the new Nigeria many hope for will be realized.