Obi, a Hero in a National Tragicomedy

By Jude Atupulazi

Last Wednesday was a black one for many Nigerians who had been looking up to the judiciary as their last hope of breaking free from the manacles of oppression, corruption and misrule, all of which the leadership of the Nigerian State represented. It was a day that many Nigerians felt they had escaped from the frying pan only to fall into the fire. In other words, they realized they had escaped from the horror that the Buhari Regime represented to a nightmare which the Tinubu Regime promises.

While Buhari murdered the unity of Nigeria through his highly nepotistic style of governance, Tinubu has just announced to the world that he will murder democracy, as henceforth, based on what played out at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, PEPT, it will be foolishness for anyone to hope to win an election fair and square in the future so long as the powers that be are interested in that election.

What happened at the tribunal was a sharp reverse to the pre-Yar’Adua Era when elections were held at the whims and caprices of the party in power. But Yar’Adua came and gave some hope to democracy as he ”allowed” the judiciary not only the freedom to decide on election petitions, but conducted elections that were adjudged the freest and fairest, by Nigerian standards, before him.

Although Buhari supervised the worst election in a long while which he left as a legacy to Nigerians and which produced Bola Ahmed Tinubu, his regime still allowed the results of elections in some states to stand; the exception being that of Imo State which was brazenly rigged.

But the smell coming from the Tinubu Camp is not so palatable. I see a government that will brazenly truncate the wishes of the masses by taking over any state they want, regardless of what the people may say. It is of course a development that will plunge the country to anarchy as there is a limit to which a people can be pushed or messed with.

But before now, the suffering people of Nigeria who had already lost hope in elections, had their hopes revived when a certain Peter Obi came onto the scene. He was literally seen as a man who dropped from Mars as his brand of politics seemed alien to what the people had been used to.

The emergence of Obi, it must be said, coincided with the time most Nigerians were in dire search for a messianic figure. It could have been anyone that looked different from the corrupt pack and it so happened that Obi arrived at that auspicious time.

For sure, he looked different. He had a pedigree that appealed to Nigerians; a pedigree that was very alien to these parts. I won’t bore you by going into details as you all know that pedigree

But why Obi seemed the perfect bargain, was also his capacity to go the whole hog and ability to fund his election.

As was found later by those who didn’t know him, Obi matched rival candidates cash for cash. It was sweet music to the ears of his legion of supporters whose faith in Obi soared even higher. He would go on to lead the most boisterous campaign in the history of the country.

His support and support base were massive, it was such that it was believed that the party that earlier denied him ticket must have regretted not choosing him as their candidate. In all probability, they must have earlier seen Obi’s ambition as a mere noise, much like other Igbos before him.

It is believed that PDP would have won had they given Obi their ticket (remember that Obi joined LP from PDP). But the hierarchy of the party decided to give the ticket to a Northerner, Atiku Abubakar, at a time every Nigerian knew that it was clearly the turn of the Southeast to produce the president.

But Obi joined LP and his campaign continued to gain momentum. Eventually Obi became a household name and despite all attempts by the ruling class to slur his image, he continued to soar higher and the rest is History.

But why and how is Obi a hero?

Obi is a hero, both to his race and to the impoverished Nigerians because he stood up to the status quo and shook them to their marrows. Obi became a figure they hated to see or hear about. He became their nightmare because despite all they did to trap him or to smear his name, they failed to come up with any evidence.

This was particularly painful to them because they probably didn’t believe there could be a Nigerian politician that would be without any known blemish. Obi made them feel ashamed of themselves. He exposed their nakedness and gave hope to the masses that a good thing might yet come out of the contraption they have known as Nigeria.

Although it may yet look bleak, Obi is going to challenge the judgement of the tribunal at the Supreme Court. I have always said that if there was any court that could put things right, that court would be the Supreme Court. This is because it is the final bus stop and once the gavel comes down, whatever they say goes. If they say that Tinubu should cease to be president, he ceases at that moment to be so.

But the tribunal judges know that any contrary judgement will attract the wrath of Tinubu while he challenges their decision. Thus, they may not be bold enough to dare him. This is why all hope is not lost because even though money may exchange hands, it will not last forever and the judges of the Supreme Court will still have to live in Nigeria at some point. Even if they won’t, their loved ones will.

It is not possible for them to ferry all their relations abroad. Thus, they may see their judgement as an opportunity to steer the country on the right path. Of course, nothing says they will not still toe the infamous path of the tribunal judges, but then why can’t one hope?

After all, when Obi sought the interpretation of his tenure, he first lost at the Appeal Court before triumphing at the Supreme Court.

For now, some people are wont to ridicule Obi but they are those to be pitied. Indeed, those who laugh, gloat or mischievously remain silent in the middle of the current Nigerian tragedy because they see it as an Obi thing may soon regret their stand. This isn’t about Obi. It never was. Obi simply walked into something he couldn’t get out from because he was seen by millions of disillusioned Nigerians as the perfect vehicle to use in fleeing from a crime scene. It just could have been anybody perceived to be different from the rest.

One sweet thing though is that the effects of misgovernance will surely affect everybody, including the so-called leaders. How? When the people you lead are angry, you are not safe once you leave your safe haven. Government officials who have been killed or kidnapped or have their parents, siblings or property killed, kidnapped or destroyed, probably never saw it coming.

One finds it difficult to know if to cry or laugh at what is happening in Nigeria because they are both comical and tragic.

One thing will always remain clear though: an anarchic society really benefits no one.  It’s just a matter of time.

And, oh, before I sign off, let me quickly take you through some of the takeaways of the tribunal’s judgement as captured by an unknown author on the social media:

‘For those who think that Peter Obi has been defeated, far be it. Today, more than any other thing Peter Obi is the true winner. For he has proven that nothing makes sense in today’s Nigeria.

‘Today, more than anything else, Peter Obi has revealed the fraud called Nigeria. He has shown that Nigeria is not built on principles but on the whims and caprices of (a) few individuals. Today, the judiciary has destroyed forever the judiciary principle of precedence; and nothing matters again in Nigeria.

‘Today, in Nigeria, nobody should be jailed or punished, because there is no principle to base the conviction of anyone for any crime. For those of you who are lawyers and judges, your profession has no meaning because it is founded on nothing.

‘Today, Nigeria has no constitution to rely on. There is no right or wrong anymore in Nigeria. There are no consequences for anything anymore. A new Nigeria is born today. And thanks to the judiciary’.