For those who at the moment are not politically aligned with Peter Obi the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, it is impossible not to catch cold. Such has been the effect of his entrance into the firmament of presidential politics in Nigeria.
Even before he left the Peoples Democratic Party in May 2022, it was clear that many of those who suddenly found a soft spot for the main opposition party were drawn to the party by Peter Obi like ship to a beacon.Such was his burgeoning popularity even then.Thus, when he decided to jump ship, many of them decided to jump ship with him even if they were sure they were jumping into stormy waters already infected by sharks.
When Peter Obi joined the Labour Party, the wave of supporters also pitched their tent with the party.Many of them have not registered with the party.Neither are they interested in party politics. S They argue that their support for Peter Obi transcends party politics.
But do they stand a chance? More precisely, does their candidate stand a choice?
Spine without structure?
For all those who have clapped back at the considerable noise surrounding the former Anambra State Governor and political survival artist per execellence, that he has no structure has been a massive and favourite refrain and rallying cry.
From members of his former party, the Peoples Democratic Party,to members of the ruling All Progressives Congress, there have been many who have pointed out rather correctly that to win elections of the magnitude of presidential elections in Nigeria, one would need some sort of structure across Nigeria.
This structure would mean party loyalists especially at the grassroots, whose loyalty to a particular party for some time has never been in question. It would also mean a considerable number of elected representatives across the country who are loyal to the party. If this is the measuring rod,the Labour Party would no doubt take home the wooden spoon .
To respond to the claims that he has no structure, Peter Obi has been unyielding in appealing to the sensibilities of the more than ninety-one million Nigerians who remain dirt poor and are currently languishing below the international poverty line.He has insisted they form the core of his structure as do all those left in no man`s land by the dysfunction scything through the country.
A treacherous terrain
For all the good that politics can do and for all the public goods politics can deliver,the political terrain in Nigeria remains an exceedingly treacherous one. It has been the undoing of many prominent Nigerians and will prove the undoing of many more in Nigeria. However,amidst the political headwinds in Nigeria,Peter Obi has always managed to stand out. By now,students of Nigerian politics can rattle off the fingers of one hand the number of records that have tumbled before him since he decided to forge a political career out of sailing against political winds.
That he has somehow managed to maintain a consistent streak, a rarity in Nigerian politics, is in itself a miracle.Many of his supporters may yet be political neophytes and greenhorns who may not be able to match the veteran political dark artists of the PDP and the APC.However, if there is anyone that can upset the political applecart in Nigeria, it is Peter Obi.
Peter Obi is a man who has paved his political path out of defying the odds. Come 2023,he may yet take Nigerian politics to previously uncharted waters.