On the mountain top, on the hill, on the riverside, everywhere! Indeed, in the air, sea and land you can feel it. A disruptive political tendency is rocking and raving through the length and breath of Nigeria. It is a movement that might alter Nigeria’s political destiny and trajectory beyond the expectations and approximation of the largely indolent political class and elites that have dominated the political scene since independence, either in khaki uniforms or civilian garbs.
The obedient movement led by the former governor of Anambra state, Peter Obi, the presidential standard bearer of the Labour Party, LP is engineering and synthesizing a new brand of people centred and people driven politics and political campaigns. Like the harmattan wind, obidient wave is sweeping across Nigeria. Even the deaf can hear it, and the blind can see it. Everyone can feel the waves and signs of a sweeping political change across the fatherland. It takes only the chronically pretentious mind to dismiss or ignore the reality. Certainly, Nigeria’s politics and politicking will never be the same again, come 2023 general elections. It is goodbye to business as usual! But in all of these, what is the position of established progressives and also the Leftists in Nigeria politics? I deliberately merged the left and progressives, comprising ideological liberals as the welfarist and liberal capitalist thinkers in politics, because the ultimate aim of both in governance is the creation and recreation of a society where justice, fairness and equity prevails by driving policies that promotes democracy and development. The central objective of any patriot in government is the establishment of a society where every person is equal before the law, where peace and stability reigns and everyone is guaranteed access to the basic things of life, irrespective of tribe, religion and their station in life. Unlike the carpet baggers and profiteers whose sole objective is primitive wealth accumulation and stealing of our collective patrimony.
Since the left and progressives have always shown commitment and concern to the principles of democracy and rooted development in Nigeria, it is only logical to expect them to be part of a movement that seeks to alter the policies and governance issues in the right direction, just as the obidient movement exemplifies.
Although it is not out of place to imagine that some members of the left in the country are presently staying away from the obidient movement as some have agreed with me that the ideological impurities and wooziness in the movement need to be distilled and filtered for effective mobilisation of the entire leftist organizations across the length and breath of the country. In essence, some bluntly say that Obi is not socialist and an ideological comrade.
However, at this critical juncture of our national life, emphasis on ideological puritanism will only lead us to the destination called nowhere. In this era of unbridled globalisation there is an indisputable dilution of the philosophies of extreme left and extreme right to the extent of finding a certain level of convergence on most issues and challenges that confronts mankind. Hence the goal is to always seek the welfare and well being of the generality of the people in an enabling environment created by the leaders through credible and actionable policy framework and implementation.
As a young journalist who covered the first election of Tony Blair and subsequently the other two time he was elected under the labour party in the United Kingdom in 1997,2001 and 2005 respectively I was told some of the secrets behind the labour party victory. After some prolonged domination of the politics of the U.K by the conservative party, especially the 11 years of the iron lady, Margaret Thatcher, the labour party had to research into how to rebrand and regain public appeal. The troikas of three brilliant and young labour party members did the magic and turn around. They were Blair, Robin Cook (who served as foreign secretary) and Gordon Brown, who succeeded Blair as prime minister after 10 years in office.
The three musketeers realised the need to make labour party attractive to the younger ones – the youths, while not losing its hold on worker’s. Their first task was to disrobe the labour party pf its ideological stiffness and ossification. They embraced globalisation without losing focus and principal attention on the welfare of the people, workers inclusive, through the implementation of people friendly policies. They deliberately shed the party of its sheer doctrinaire. That was the trick that brought labour party into reckoning and back to No.10 Downing street after several years in the political wilderness.
Therefore, the left and progressives should not make the mistake of 1999! After the titanic struggle by the radical wing of the Nigerian media, in collaboration with progressives and leftist in the civil society organisations to get the military out of politics, especially after the annulment of June 12, 1993 presidential election, those who were in the thick of the struggles never inherited the dividend and product of that struggle. That was because the leaders of the various pro-democracy organisations resolved that its members should not participate in a military supervised political transition to civil rule programme. They argued that the military cannot be trusted to supervise a credible transition programme, and therefore should not be dignified by their presence and participation. That decision proved to be fatal, politically that is. The refusal of the genuine comrades who birthed democracy to participate in the elections during the transition programme in 1999 paved way, once again for mostly people of questionable character and the parasitic elites who leach on government for survival to appropriate the political space. Today, we are all victims of that inaction and we have a parlous economy, and indeed a fractured nation to show for it.
It is impertinent to continue to insist and urge that Obi is not a labour activist and ideologically strong enough to inherit and drive the labour party as such group of people must understand that being an ideologue on its own does not automatically translate to good leadership qualities and performance in public office.
In essence, in addition to sound and progressive ideology, we need effective norms rooted as political strategy if not ideology, a phenomenon which Obi had exhibited in abundance while in office as governor of Anambra state. His records of accountability and frugality with public funds are undeniable. Obi’s promotion of education as a tool of liberation and development both for the individual and society is also well documented.
Since the inception of the Fourth Republic in 1999 which has seen some priests, self-confessed socialists and ideologues as governors, how many can boldly say as Obi does, that they challenge anyone to investigate their years of service and that they never stole a kobo, not naira from their state coffers? If that is not ideology, what is? If that is not the kind of norms of good governance that we want, then what really do we want?
Now is the time for the Nigerian left and progressives to join the Obidient movement and drive the process in the collective interests of everyone. With the youths as the avante garde of the Obidient train they would need to synergise their dynamism and boundless energy with the wisdom and experience of established progressives and the left in order for the current window of opportunity to reclaim our country not to end up as another ENDSARS !
Osa, a journalist and lawyer lives in Lagos Twiter: @DirectorOsa