By Femi Fani-Kayode
Let me make this clear from the outset. I am a member of the APC and a supporter of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
This contribution does not in any way derogate from that and my analysis is more of an academic and intellectual exercise than anything else.
I am NOT a supporter of Peter Obi and I have NO intention of becoming one. I am however interested on what his supporters represent and stand for and that is the subject of this essay.
They are worthy of my attention only because their rise and relevance in the political configuration of our nation, just in a matter of weeks, is meteoric and phenomenal.
In order to counter and defeat them or to keep them in their place we must at least attempt to understand them and figure out how their minds work.
The following are my findings.
Those that are the supporters of Peter Obi, the Labour Party presidential candidate, are known as ‘Obidients’ and they are EVERYWHERE.
Those of us in the larger political parties like the ruling APC and the opposition PDP, treat them with contempt and ignore them at our own peril.
The truth is that they are far more dangerous to our collective cause as a ruling class than many of us can possibly conceive or appreciate.
Only the discerning can appreciate this and know precisely where this whole thing may be heading.
They may not have structures or elected representatives in the legislative and executive arms of Government but they have IDEAS and VISION coupled with a clear ideological and philosophical bent which can and will endure for far longer than mere political platforms and structures.
Unknown to them as well as virtually everyone else, therein lies their power. As they say, an idea whose time has come cannot be stopped.
Long after we are all gone they will still be here because structures and political alliances rarely endure but IDEAS and VISION last forever.
Again they will outlive and outlast us all because they are not a political party in the true sense of the word but rather a growing national movement which scales and spreads across ethnic, religious, political and regional lines and traditional boundaries.
They also represent a generational and paradigm shift which is increasingly attractive to many and they are bound tightly together by a common purpose, common cause and common objective: namely to rid Nigeria of the old order and usher in the new.
That is really what they want to do and that is the primary and strongest source of their inspiration and motivation.
They are far more dangerous to what the French describe as the ‘Ancien Regime’, the old political class and the entire system itself than anything we have ever seen before because most of them, bar their leader and a small handful of political tried and tested veterans and old war horses around him, are NOT politicians and have never ventured anywhere near the political arena or the circles of power.
In the main they are an innovatively aggressive and frightful array and association of angry and determined young men and women who clearly have the courage of their convictions coupled with the audacity, fury, daring, rage and firm resolve of those that were involved in the Endsars protests of 2020 and the fiery footsoldiers that effected the Russian Bolshevik revolution of 1917 led by Vladimir Iliyich Lenin.
There is also something Rawlingesque and intimidating about them.
That is to say they are similar in disposition to the late, great and mighty son of Africa and leader of Ghana, President Jerry Rawlings, who led a successful revolution in his country in 1979 and who, on his second coming in 1981 when he toppled yet another Government said, “if there is no justice in Ghana then there shall be no peace!”
That is the spirit that is in the Obidients and that is what moves them.
Yet though they do not like to hear it their chances of winning the presidential election next year, short of a miracle, are very slim and deep down they all know it even if they refuse to publicly acknowledge it.
Despite that they are determined to fight to the end, hope for the best, work hard and give it their best shot and, of course, therein lies their victory.
In this game courage is the key. As they say, ‘he who dares wins’. Again as they say, ‘fortune favours the bold’ and these young people are both daring and bold.
That they can challenge the status quo and vie for the sacred and awesome power that has been shared by the two major political parties or their ancestral predecessors and variants over the last 62 years is commendable in itself. I am not part of them but I certainly commend and applaud their efforts.
They too have a right to fight for their rights and future and to be heard. They too have a dream and a story to tell and we must never begrudge them that.
Yet if the truth be told they are not only interested in winning an election but, perhaps even more importantly, they are interested in making a profound eloquent and defiant statement, registering their protest against the status qou and the powers that be and triggering and engendering a full scale, comprehensive and all-embracing social, cultural and political revolution.
They want a real and fundamental change and not a fake one. They want to pull the whole house and system down with everyone in it and rebuild a new one in their own image, with their own values and on their own terms.
Most important of all they want to see the back of those of us that are in any way associated with the old order or that have been in Government or the corridors of power at ANY point in time over the last 62 years.
That desire and sentiment is the force that is driving and propelling them and that is kindling their fire and swelling their ranks.
They are like the Robspier’s and the Marat’s of the bloody French revolution between 1789 and 1799 whose battle cry was “liberty, equality and fraternity”, who brought an end to the French monarchy, Royal family and nobility, chopped off their heads and established a proud and strong new order and a fledgling and unique Republic.
Like Robspier’s tiny cabal of French revolutionaries, they are led by a small cell of intellectual and idealistic hardliners and are bolstered, girded and supported by a volatile, massive and increasingly dangerous support group and power base who threaten violence and hurl insults at their perceived detractors at the drop of a hat and as a consequence of years of pent up anger and frustration.
If they ever get power many heads will role and many of today’s and yesterday’s leaders will run into exile or go into hiding.
This is especially so of those who have something to hide or who have skeletons in their cupboards.
That is what makes them so threatening and I repeat, those of us that are in the larger political parties or that are members of the existing and ancient ruling class underestimate them, ignore them and display disdain for their firm resolve and rising anger at our own peril.
Most of my political associates, friends and colleagues across party lines tend to dismiss them with contempt.
They regard them as being inconsequential and argue that they only exist on social media. I beg to differ. I see them in the streets and I see them in the Churches.
I see them amongst my staff and amongst those that regard themselves as being amongst the oppressed and downtrodden.
I see them amongst the professionals and those that are bankers, lawyers, doctors and artists.
I see them in the North, West, East and South. I see them everywhere and not only on social media.
I see them as being a very powerful and potent rising force which, if properly managed, will develop into a major political power over the next few years with a strong ideological and electoral foundation and massive structures.
That is the potential that they have and that is how dangerous they can be.
The sooner those of us that are in the larger political parties get off our high horses, display a little humility, try and understand their mindset, reach out to them, take them more seriously, appreciate their anger, restore their hope, make the necessary concessions and try and abate their rage and rising angst the better it will be for us all.
They may not have today but if we do not play our cards right they may end up having tomorrow.
May God help us all.
NSA Inaugurates Ndiomu as Chairman of panel to probe oil theft
Abuja—The National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd), on Tuesday, inaugurated an 11-man special investigative panel to probe oil theft in the Niger Delta region of the country, Daily Trust reports.
The panel, comprised of retired top military brass and police officers as well as some administrators, has the Interim Administrator, Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Major General Barry Ndiomu, as its chairman and Mr. David Attah as Secretary.
Inaugurating the panel in Abuja, Monguno said that Nigeria was facing a monumental loss of revenue that ought to have accrued from the sale of crude oil.
He noted that pipeline vandalism and theft of crude oil had led to a significant decline in production.
Read also: Cash withdrawals limits: PoS operators get waiver
The Terms of Reference (ToRs), according to NSA, are to ascertain the circumstances surrounding the illegal insertion into the Trans-Escravos Pipeline (TEP) around Yokri area in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State
On his part, the Permanent Secretary, Special Services, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Aliyu Yerro, said the menace of crude oil theft had greatly impacted the nation’s revenue growth.
Senate seeks clarifications on new cash withdrawal policy, set to grill CBN chiefs
Abuja—The Senate will on Friday grill two deputy governors of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over the cash withdrawal limit policy unveiled by the apex bank on Tuesday, according to the Punch newspaper.
The red chamber planned to seek clarifications on the new directive which restricts over-the-counter cash withdrawal by individuals and organisations to N100,000 and N500,000, respectively, per week.
It also limits cash withdrawals via point-of-sale machines and automated teller machines to N20,000 daily and N100,000 weekly, respectively.
According to a memo signed Tuesday by the CBN’s Director of Banking Supervision, Haruna Mustafa, withdrawals above the thresholds would attract processing fees of five per cent and 10 per cent, respectively, for individuals and corporate entities going forward.
In addition, third-party cheques above N50,000 shall not be eligible for OTC payment while extant limits of N10m on clearing cheques still remain.
The circular also directed banks to load only N200 and lower denominations into their ATMs and restricted withdrawal to N20, 000 per day from ATMs.
The policy which will become effective on January 9, 2023, had generated criticisms but the CBN clarified on Wednesday that PoS operators could apply for waivers.
Deliberating on the policy on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday, senators said there was a need to debate the policy on the floor of the red chamber.
However, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, directed the Senate Committee on Banking to grill the two re-appointed deputy governors of the CBN, Aisha Ahmad, and Edward Adamu, who will be screened on Friday, on the new cash withdrawal policy.
2022 Flooding: Bayelsa govt directs fresh distribution of items to communities, acknowledges donors
Yenagoa—Bayelsa State government has acknowledged donations from international agencies, state governments, political parties and their presidential candidates, individuals and corporate organisations in the wake of the 2022 flooding that ravaged the state.
Governor Douye Diri in his opening remarks at the weekly state executive council meeting in Government House, Yenagoa, on Wednesday disclosed that the government received donations in form of cash, foodstuff and other materials from well-meaningful individuals and corporate organisations during and after the floods.
According to a statement by the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Alabrah, Diri restated his administration’s commitment to transparency and assured the people that they would not be left in the dark as regards the flood donations.
He listed the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, the Akwa Ibom and Lagos state governments, which donated N100m and N50m respectively, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar (N55m), and his counterpart in the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Adewole Adebayo (N10m) as some of the donors.
Other donors are Dr. Azibapu Eruani of the Azikel Group, who he said has started redeeming his pledge of N350million worth of items, and the Chief Executive Officer of the Century Energy Group, Chief Ken Etete (N50m).
The governor also disclosed that the South Korean Ambassador to Nigeria donated $100,000, Access Bank N100m, Zenith Bank N20m, Linkage Assurance N20m, Sterling Oil N15m, Paache Construction N10m and AITEO N50m.
According to Diri, organisations that donated items include the Tompolo Foundation 440 cartons of noodles, 595 bags of 50kg rice, 35 jerrycans of 25kg palm oil, groundnut oil 180 cartons, garri 40 50kg bags, beans 20 100kg bags as well as 500 tubers of yam.
Others are Globus Bank 70 bags of 50kg rice and 100 cartons of noodles, Stanbic Bank 146 4×6’ mattresses, 148 pillows and 150 plastic buckets.
The rest are Julius Berger 100 bags of 50kg rice, Redeemed Christian Church of God 100 bags of 50kg rice, Brass Petrochemical and Fertiliser Company 100 bags of 50kg rice, 100 bags of 50kg garri and 100 bags of 100kg beans.
Diri directed the task force on flood mitigation and management and the Bayelsa State Emergency Management Agency (BYSEMA) to immediately resume distribution of items in the warehouse to all affected communities in the state.
He also assured that the donations will be prudently used and urged people of the state to exercise patience with the process of distributing the relief materials to victims.
He further stated that the process will be devoid of political colouration.
His words: “We never played politics with the flood and the relief items for victims. The whole world saw it. Those who came to play politics, the whole world equally saw them.
“In all that we did, we never discriminated against any political party. And we commend particularly our people that bore the brunt of the flood.
“As a government, we will take decisions in the best interest of our people. Everything should not be politicised.“