By Titilope T. Anifowoshe
The EndSars protest undoubtedly changed Nigeria´s political dimension. Youths became more engaged in stronger and fiercer calls for transparency, inclusion and governance in Nigeria.
As we count down to Nigeria’s historic 2023 elections, I have deemed it necessary to break my silence amidst an imminent danger being peddled by Nigerian youths.
Indeed, the freedom of association of every Nigerian is sacrosanct, as provided in Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution. Nigerian youths, especially active media users, have opted to queue behind their favourite media influencers and activists to give 61-year-old former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, their support hence the tag “Obidients”. Even though my most respected friends and associates are at the forefront of the Obidient train, my basic understanding of grassroots politics won’t allow me to join the train for fear of falling into the category of an “Obidiot”.
Yes, I am a big advocate of youth inclusion and Politics with value, but if I have to make a choice, I would vote for Omoyele Sowore, not Peter Obi. At the end of my piece, my Obidient friends will take my observation to the drawing table instead of making me a Yamaha generator.
It is indeed beautiful to see young people engaging in political conversations. However, I doubt the sustainability of our approach to the elections. Rallies are stunning, and media activism is incredible but millions of votes can never be gotten through mob actions. Political history students will agree that Nigeria is not like America, where an email scandal halted Hillary Clinton´s chances of being the first female president. Mob actions or social media propaganda does not win votes in Nigeria.
It is disheartening to see the same activists who advocated for issue-based campaign flooding the news with propaganda and attacks, making the Peter Obi selling point seem like a midfield attacker banking solely on the weaknesses of his opponents and not his ability to use the media to push out the ills of other parties. Where is Peter Obi´s manifesto?
Dear Nigerian youths, whether you like it or not, the old order (Bola Tinubu, Atiku Abubakar and co.) that we want to triumph over have unprecedented antecedents (whether good or bad). They have spent decades building alliances, structures and people across all levels and cadres of Nigerian society.
Omoyele Sowore is a renowned student activist whose advocacy has earned him friends and foes. Omoyele Sowore´s manifesto and ideology are crystal clear, and we have seen him stand fiercely and firmly on his beliefs for years. Omoyele Sowore can be everything, but he doesn’t doll out wrong statistics or shadowbox.
We have heard Addo Malik of the Young Progressives Party, and we have seen his antecedents. We have also seen the strategies of Adewole Adebayo Of the Social Democratic party.
May I ask you, dear Obidient, what is your ideology outside your regular social media mob and name-calling?
My dear Obidients, go back to your drawing table, hit the streets without arrogance and get them familiar with the process of politics.
Why are your posters and fliers only at urban areas of elites?
How are you collaborating with traditional and religious rulers?
Beyond the photo-ops and the talks, how can Nigerians truly trust you?
Outside your media influencers, where are the gatekeepers of our societies?
How exactly are you convincing them?
Beyond the gloating scandals and Tinubu propaganda you spend your time pushing, how are you changing the mindset of the people?
I am not saying that Sowore and other third-force aspirants are doing ALL of these, but we can define Sowore´s ideology without confusion. Unlike your ever-changing goal post.
How can you win a presidential election without gubernatorial, state assembly, House of Representatives or senate aspirants from your political party?
How can you win an election when you are not at par with your party structure across all local government areas?
I understand that as youths, we enjoy paparazzi and sensations but can we see what Tinubu of the All Progressives Party is doing? He is going all out, not just by himself or with some media activists. He is going around with crucial community players! Tinubu or Atiku won’t visit a state without the aspirants across all levels coming out with him.
They are not shifting goalposts, taking pictures with the same people they swore ruined us as a nation.
Fellow Nigerian Youths, there are so many ways to triumph over the old order, but cyber mobbing and dirty politicking are very disposable! I fear that a loss in this 2023 election will further kill the passion of Nigerian youths. The time to be strategic is NOW.
May Nigeria succeed.
Titilope Anifowoshe is an active Nigerian citizen.