Opinion: Peter Obi And Labour Party Revolution – By Emeka Alex Duru

Leadership entails carrying a cross, for all; offering oneself as a victim, as in sacrifice. African Traditional Religion (ATR), situates it brilliantly in the Scape Goat phenomenon.

The scape goat, is a male goat upon whose head are symbolically placed the sins and transgressions of an entire community, after which it is left to wander about, not cared for. It bears the burden of atonement for sins it did not commit.

That approximates to the demands of leadership. It is a job to be done, not a prize to be won. American essayist, John Dickerson, says as much. In describing the US presidency as the hardest job in the world, he said that it is expected that when the national fabric rends, the president will administer needle and thread, or at least reach for the sewing box of unity.

Distinguished Australian speaker, Bill Newman, concurs. In his book, “10 Laws of Leadership”, he argues that a leader must have a vision, which must be fulfilled by goals that work towards its achievement. Leaders offer hope at moments of hopelessness.

A particular trend that ran through the inaugural addresses of Presidents John F. Kennedy, Barrack Obama of the United States of America (USA) and Nelson Mandela of South Africa, was that they resonated with hope in the face of odds.

The three assumed offices at momentous periods in their countries’ histories. On January 20, 1961, when Kennedy was inaugurated as the 35th US President, the world was reeling under the uncertainties of the Cold War. Obama came at a time America was going through obvious economic challenges. Mandela’s election signaled a transition from apartheid regime to inclusive democracy.

They thus faced the challenges of galvanizing their people on the path of building greater societies. Kennedy saw through the odds and called on all Americans to commit themselves to service and sacrifice to the fatherland: “My fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”

Obama came close to that, 48 years after, when on January 20, 2009, he called on Americans to unite and look towards their common national heritage as a guide for facing the challenges of the future. “The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness”, he roared on inauguration.

Mandela brought the message nearer home in 1994, in assuring South Africans that the worst was over. He said; “We have triumphed in the effort to implant hope in the breasts of the million of our people. We enter into a covenant that we shall build the society in which all South Africans, both black and white, will be able to walk tall, without any fear in their hearts, assured of their inalienable right to human dignity – a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world”.

Nigeria is at such critical juncture, presently. With daunting security challenges in all parts of the country, deplorable infrastructure base, widening corruption index, crippling economic uncertainties manifested in youth unemployment, dwindling fortunes of the national currency and debilitating poverty among the people, the country is without doubt, on a sorry curve.

The copious absence of disciplined leadership class to steer the ship of state on the right course, makes the situation more worrisome. The signs are not encouraging.

This is why the courage by former Anambra State governor and presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, to step forward, literally baring his chest to take the bullets in fixing the broken segments of the country, deserves attention. In 2003 when he took similar audacious steps in Anambra, with his phenomenal question –“Is Anambra cursed or are we the cause?” – many considered him running against established political culture in the state.

But he dared and eight years after, left a record that continues to blossom in many parts of the country. From a piteous position of 26th in Nigeria’s educational ranking, Anambra was catapulted to the first position. Kidnapping which had driven the indigenes out of the state, was tamed.

Apart from not owing the workers, contactors or any person or group that had financial dealings with the state, he bequeathed to his successor money to pay three months’ salaries, run schools for a year and start more projects. To cap it, he left in savings, N75 billion ($156 million, and the rest in naira).

He is asking Nigerians to give him opportunity to replicate such feats at the national level. He had intended doing so on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) but could not put up with the contradictions in the organisation, hence his anchor on Labour Party.

The system, he admits, is broken but can be fixed. In course of his nationwide consultation processes before quitting PDP, he had identified the problems confronting the country. He said; “Today, Nigeria tops the list of fragile, failing states and ranks third on the list of most terrorised countries in the world. We have, since 2019, become the world poverty capital.

“We now have an army of 50 million out-of-school children, out of which about 60% of them have not been to school at all. Nigeria is now the most stressful country to live in, according to the stress level index”.

In Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State, he observed that unless critical decisions and actions are taken by Nigerians, the country is headed for deeper crisis. In Akure, Ondo State, he identified rising spate of insecurity as a major challenge to Nigeria’s development. He made similar observations in 35 states and Abuja. But it is not lamentations all through.

He offers suggestions on how to pull the country out of its current crisis. Doing this entails moving from a consumer society to a productive enterprise. He recommends job creation and empowerment of youths among measures to end the ravaging insecurity in the land.

His message resonates with the youth, the ordinary Nigerian, as they reciprocated the other day, marching through Lagos, Rivers, Ogun, Abuja, Enugu, Anambra, Kano, Abuja and far away Australia where a lone marcher joined, in an exercise, mobilsed on Twitter with the hashtag: #1MillionMarch4PeterObi. His movement to LP is at the instance of the youths and traumatized Nigerians, who see in him hopes of a brighter future.

Obi has taken up the challenge. In Labour Party, he has activated a revolution. Let Nigerians key into the movement.

– Duru is a top journalist

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