2023 presidency, CAN and the Obi phenomenon
EMEKA NZE in this piece examines the phenomenon of the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr Peter Obi, who in two appearances last week at the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Dunamis Church International Abuja became the ‘starboy’ amongst the crowd of politicians
The revelation of the 2023 general election lies in the latest discovery by Nigerians of Mr Peter Obi the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) whose fire of popularity, like a conflagration, is submerging every nook and cranny of the country.
More startling is the momentum the Obi phenomenon is gaining by the day amongst Nigerians at home and abroad as well as amongst foreigners who liken Obi to the ex- President of the United States Barak Obama who took the world by the storm when he campaigned for America’s president against mounting cynicism.
This was buttressed by a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki of Edo state, in a viral video on social media, during a meeting with his party faithful, when he said the Obi fire has caught up with every household as youths nowadays bear the slogan of ‘Obidient’ to indicate an Obi compliant or supporter.
Why Obi’s latest popularity?
What is, however, baffling to many Nigerians is that Obi is not a stranger to the Nigeria’s political horizon having been governor of Anambra state for eight years under the platform of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA). In 2019.
It was this same Obi who was the runningmate to Atiku Abubakar under PDP and failed to galvanise enough votes to guarantee victory for their party.
The questions many Nigerians continue to ask is why the sudden growth in his popularity and acceptance? Why the sudden attitude change of Nigerians towards Obi who has become an idol figure that some people craves to behold, touch and revere in such an unprecedented manner?
The Dunamis Church episode
Take the case of last Friday’s visit to the Dunamis Church International in Abuja. The members’ euphoria and hysteria that heralded Obi’s welcome became very palpable in sharp contrast to those that greeted serving government functionaries also in attendance at that evening church programme.
With dignitaries like governor of Akwa Ibom state, Udom Emmanuel, First Lady of Delta state, Edith Okowa, one would have thought Obi would be lost in the crowd, alas he again became the cynosure.
The excitement and ovation reached a zenith when the moderator and wife of the General Overseer of the church, Mrs Enenche who introduced Obi not as the presidential candidate but as the former governor of Anambra state, yet the crowd became so uncontrollable that she had to skilfully adopt other styles to minimize the frenzy.
At the occasion, when eventually Pastor Enenche called out the three major dignitaries who he said represented Nigeria’s political leadership: Udom, Wife of Okowa, and then Peter Obi, the crowd again erupted into another frenzy of exclamations at the mention of Obi.
With Nigeria’s flags in the hands of the trio, Enenche said, “The significance and symbolism of this is that the nation cannot go down, Nigeria cannot go down.”
The host pastor gave them brief moment to individually pray for the country. For Mrs Okowa, “It is well with Nigeria, Nigeria will never go down, Only you Lord will do this,” she prayed.
Mr Udom Emmanuel prayed: “I declare henceforth, Nigeria is liberated, Nigeria is rescued, Nigeria is restored to the Glory of You God the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.”
It was the turn of Obi to pray and the frenzy and ecstacy from the crowd continued once again. When it finally died down, he said, “God, we have no other country, except this one, God deliver us, God rescue us, God liberate us. We have no other nation, God deliver us -Amen”
At CAN’s 12th General Assembly and leadership transition
At the valedictory session of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) organised by the immediate past President Dr Samson Ayokunle, it was a potpourri of dignitaries and Christian fateful who gathered in honour of ex-CAN president, but the attention and ovation shifted to Obi.
Both the outgoing and incoming presidents of CAN, the government functionaries led by Mr Boss Mustapha, Governors Samuel Ortom and Prof Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta state, a presidential running mate to the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as well as the Presidential Candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) could not get half of the thunderous ovation and accolades accorded to Obi.
In the magnificent ultra modern auditorium of the National Christian Centre where the event held, any mention of Obi intermittently punctuated the programme with deafening applauds at least for upward of three minutes before the speaker or announcer would be able to find his voice again.
When eventually the dignitaries were allowed to speak, they did uninterruptedly as the people listened with rapt attention but during Obi’s turn the applause again became uncontrollable.
Mustapha who represented the federal government at the valedictory session congratulated the new leadership led by Reverend Daniel Okoh while hailing the outgoing leadership for a peaceful transition.
“You have demonstrated that with Godly leadership, we can have a peaceful country, we can have a peaceful association, and by the time of transition of leadership, it can be done, it happened without rancour, without bitterness.
“One of the greatest qualities of a godly leader is to work in pursuit of peace and reconcilation.
“In the days of old, the church is a custodian of wisdom and knowledge, the custodian of direction. My prayer, even in times like this, is that the church should return to its primary responsibility of praying for the nation, of giving direction to the nation. I see a glorious church rising from the ashes of what is happening in this country.
“Oh Lord raise for us a prophet of whom we would come and enquire of the problems of the nation, he prayed.
Also speaking, Governor of Delta state Prof Ifeanyi Okowa also said the church has a role to pray for the nation, adding that a lot needed to be done by the church in terms of prayers given the forthcoming general elections in the country.
He, however, said, “As we move to the next few weeks, there’s a lot to be done. The lord alone will decide what would happen in this country.”
Governor of Benue state, Mr Samuel Ortom urged the church “to rise up and work towards unity.”
He, however, praised CAN for not letting itself be intimidated by insecurity pervading the land, urging the church not to be dismayed as those who live by the sword would also perish by the sword.
Prince Adewole Adebayo of the Social Democratic party (SDP),
in his remarks, urged Christians to pray for the unity and peace of the church and that of the nation, pointing out the unity of the church would not be complete until there is unity in the nation.
“This is because the Church of Christ is not one side of Nigeria. It is not an opposition. It is a blessing to all Nigerians.
“The Church of Christ is the reason why Nigeria will be saved. The blessings go to all Nigerians, both Christians and non-Christians,” Adebayo said.
He also advised that as Nigeria goes into 2023 general elections church leaders should continue to remain instrument in the hands of God and not in the hands of those who were playing politics.
He also advised clerics to pray for the will of God and not concentrating on predictions regarding the 2023 elections.
He said God has unexpected plan for Nigeria just as He brought out unexpected David to deliver the people of Israel from Goliath.
Adebayo advised CAN not to give a message of Christian versus others, but a message to unite the country and to give a message that is ecumenical, not only among Christians, but among other communities Nigeria.
When Obi was given the floor, the applause and shouting ovation was maddening and for over another five minutes, he waited for the audience to calm down, until the moderator made a passionate appeal to the crowd.
The Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate, Mr Peter Obi, urged Nigerians to remember the nation in prayers as it embarks on a transition process to elect new leaders in the next few months.
He urged Nigerians to remember those in public offices and incoming ones so that they would use public money for public good.
The LP presidential aspirant while congratulating the outgoing and new leadership, commended the CAN for a smooth transition, noting that the entire country has a lot to learn from them as it embarks on general election the next year.
“Remember your country in prayers;
remember those in public office; those coming into public office, to use public money for the people,” he said.