By Eseh Edeh
There is scant any country in the world that will allow a terrorist leader to emerge as its president, which is why Nigerians must be circumspect in their choice of who leads the nation when they go to the polls in February 2023. Of the four leading candidates, some analysts pegged that down to three, the Labour Party candidate, Mr Peter Obi has openly shown his pro-terrorism outlook but the demagoguery he has built around him has inured his followers into a fanatical frenzy that has erased all sense of reason to question his terrorist credentials.
Supporters of the other candidates have latched onto Obi’s unrivalled penchant for telling lies as a basis to distrust his candidacy, they often fact-check him with the inevitable outcome that he sells cram to the electorate. They have also accused him of being an irredeemable bigot, who is incapable of seeing beyond running a patronage system that favours his Catholics of Igbo descent – so pathetic is this trait that Obi chose a Mr. Ifeanyi Ezeagu, an Igbo, to lead his campaign team in Sokoto State in the northwest of the country.
Obi is also known not to be straight in his dealings as the Pandora Papers revealed that he broke extant legislation without remorse. He would do anything to game the system, including stashing his assets in tax havens while gunning to superintend funds raised from taxes paid by diligent honest Nigerians. He is okay with sabotaging the Nigerian economy, into which he admitted importing Heinz products on a gargantuan scale, without ever thinking of obtaining a licence or franchise to locally manufacture here in Nigeria – his focus is on profit-taking, and he is proud to display his importation racket as an achievement that makes him electable.
However, these negative attributes and chronic addiction to infamy are not the reason the electorates should be wary of electing Peter Obi. The real reason Obi should not be allowed anywhere near power is the reality that he plans to use the position to supervise the balkanization of Nigeria or at the very least run a vengeful government that would provoke other ethnic nationalities to break away from Nigeria and leave the Igbo behind inside whatever is left of the country.
To understand how this apprehension is a legitimate concern, one needs to only make a historical review of all the interventions Obi has ever made on the contrived revival of the agitation for the defunct Biafra republic, the subject of a civil war that pitched Nigerians against each other for over three years in the late 60s when the Igbo attempted to secede. The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPoB), which the court ruled is a terrorist organization, is at the forefront of the renewed agitation; it has a militant arm, the Eastern Security Network (ESN), which alternates identity as ‘Unknown Gunmen’ when it is convenient.
Even though IPoB’s rhetoric has directly led to ESN and Unknown Gunmen unleashing a murderous anti-Nigeria campaign in the southeast, Peter Obi has never marshalled the courage to openly condemn the separatist bend of these criminal entities. Instead, he is on record saying that IPoB is not a terrorist group even when ESN and Unknown Gunmen always make it abundantly clear that they are pursuing IPoB’s agenda. As the patron of IPoB, Obi glosses over their atrocities, which is not surprising since the brand of beer produced by his company, Hero Larger Beer, bears the Biafra flag depicting the rising sun. A man, who at significant risk to his business, persists in using a terrorist-linked insignia as the label for his product is conspiring with the terrorists. He has even said IPoB is not a terrorist group, which implies he considers himself superior to the court that had ruled that this group is a terrorist organization.
As further proof of his affiliation with IPoB, including with the rogue faction of the group, Peter Obi shamelessly structured his presidential campaign itinerary in the southeast to exclude Mondays, the day that the terrorist group enforces a crippling sit-at-home order in solidarity with IPoB’s leader, Nnamdi Kanu, who is in custody and on trial for treasonable charges. Avoiding campaigning in Igboland is not an act of cowardice as people surmised, it is evidence of Peter Obi showing solidarity with IPoB, an organization that says Nigeria must be destroyed, the same country Obi is seeking to lead.
In addition, anyone that has been paying attention to trends online will notice that the account handles behind the rabid IPoB’s anti-Nigerian vitriolic are the same accounts that are now pushing the OBIdient propaganda. The other accounts that have switched sides to support the OBIdient propaganda are those belonging to the people that incited the destructive #EndSARS protests, which again were in part directed by Nnamdi Kanu, as evidenced by a recording of his voice ordering his followers to destroy businesses owned by other ethnic nationalities and to kill law enforcement officers. The terrorist component of the OBIdient Movement is the reason Obi’s supporters persistently exhibited intolerance for other Nigerians to independently hold ideas that vary from theirs, which is responsible for the online trolling of those that differ with the OBIdients, threats to supporters of other political parties and isolated instances of actual physical attacks. On this, Obi has been silent.
Obi’s continued silence on IPoB’s atrocities is exceptionally deafening considering that weeks before the elections, ESN and Unknown Gunmen have intensified attacks on federal government locations, notably facilities belonging to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security organizations, to prevent the election from holding because they know their patron cannot win. They are targeting INEC as part of an alleged plot to write all the votes in the southeast to Peter Obi after destroying facilities for conducting elections in the region, which is a hare-brained plan since the 2023 General Election is too digitized to be so manipulated.
Given the foregoing, the ongoing arson, killings, and violence against citizens who exercise their right of choice to support candidates other than IPoB’s Peter Obi are of concern since the candidate that these murderers are supporting, on whose behalf they claim to be committing these crimes has not come out to properly disown them. It is logical to then hold Peter Obi, as a sponsor of IPOB, responsible for the recent atrocities being committed by the group.
Nigerians must look beyond the populism upon which Peter Obi is riding to interrogate his tolerant views and stance on terrorism so that they do not empower someone who will see Nigerians of other ethnic nationalities as fair game to be terrorised by his lackeys in IPoB and ESN. We must not make the patron of a terrorist organization our next president.
Edeh wrote this piece from Uwani, Enugu.