It is evident that the Peter Obi candidacy is exciting and inspiring hope in a new generation of Nigerians. However, I fear that the substance of his quest may be lost in the euphoria of the moment.
It is clear that Obi’s campaign will not lack funding because many well-meaning Nigerians are willing to support his bid.
But there’s something critically lacking at this stage of the journey.
In response to the concern of many that Obi and the Labour Party has no structures to win a national election, he said the 100 million Nigerians living below the poverty line are his structure, along with some other demographic of our population who will vote for him because the current political order had ostracised them from the commonwealth.
While Obi is a shrewd and successful businessman, he’s not a particularly bright politician. If he were, he should know what having a national structure means, how vitally important it is to quickly create one, and how to go about it.
This seeming lack of political savvy needn’t prove costly to an undeniably promising push for the presidency, provided Obi is not too humble to acknowledge the snag and plug it.
It’s a shame that many gifted minds who could help his campaign with valuable strategy are unable to, because he does not yet understand the enormity of his current undertaking.
In a nutshell, what he and LP must do now, as a matter of prime urgency, is to ensure there are viable candidates to run in all elective positions, in at least thirty states of the Federation.
This process cannot happen organically but must be deliberately calibrated. Because majority of the type of candidates to scout and co-opt would ordinarily not run in our elections. They don’t have the money but they enjoy plenty of goodwill and respect among the people.
In that regard, the North is a priority.
The kind of candidates to fish for in the North must be persons of impeccable integrity – in the mold of Aminu Kano and Shekarau.
The Northern electorate is unlike the South in one key regard: they do not joke with persons of proven integrity, especially where the issue of public trust and office is concerned. The Northern youth will stake their lives to vote such local champions into office. Obi’s candidacy can then ride on the acceptance and electability of those local heroes.
Obi needn’t spend ‘shishi’ on this critical assignment but he must lend his name to it to help galvanise the exercise. There are people waiting to fund such a move.
Finally, it is OK to seek for a partnership with NNPP but beware of the Tambuwal treatment. The Nigerian elite are notoriously treacherous.
Better to have your own structure intact, whilst seeking any strategic partnerships. Obi must demonstrate that he grasps the full extent of the trust and confidence Nigerians are putting on him by committing to play the ‘long game’ as the arrowhead of a bold, new order.
The 100 million Nigerians who may be sympathetic to the Obi candidacy are not going to be on the ballot for any elective positions.
It is unimaginable that anyone can be truly vying for president without adequate local content in the 774 LGAs in Nigeria.
Building that structure is doable. That is the true test of the popularity Obi is enjoying now. That should be Obi’s and LP’s number one priority.