By Jude Atupulazi
Last Monday, a vast majority of Nigerians were in sombre mood as Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu was sworn in as the 16th president of Nigeria. This came after attempts to stop his inauguration failed. The attempts to stop it were driven by the belief that once Tinubu was sworn in, it would be useless hoping to upturn his declaration as the winner of the February 25 presidential poll. But, alas, the day came and Tinubu was sworn in as our president, leaving both Peter Obi of Labour Party and Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, to continue to contest the victory of Tinubu in court.
To say that most Nigerians have given up any hope of reclaiming their mandate through Obi is to state the obvious, especially given the Nigerian Factor. What is the Nigerian Factor? It is all about the ways the powerful in Nigeria suppress opposing voices, steal from the poor and get away with it.
In this context, they stole a popular mandate and are sitting pretty on it, daring the masses to do their worst, knowing they have the means to control and influence the institutions of government, in this case, the courts.
It is not a thing that has never happened but has been happening all the time, though, on a few occasions, truth prevailed, as in the time the same Obi recovered his stolen mandate in court. It is those few occasions that the masses are hinging their hopes on for some miracle to happen and who causes miracles to happen other than God?
That was why on Friday, May 26, the Labour Party’s House of Representatives member-elect for Dunukofia Njikoka and Anaocha Federal Constituency, Hon George Ozodinobi, gathered his constituents for a prayer session tagged, ”Special Inter-denominational Service and Prayer Session for the restoration of the Mandate of His Excellency, Peter Obi, and Senator Datti Baba Ahmed”.
Just before the session began at Egwe Egwe Square, Nimo, I caught up with the convener, Ozodinobi, and casually asked him if, indeed, he still had any hope of Obi recovering his mandate. Ozodinobi would answer without hesitation: ‘We will recover our mandate!’
I did not see a man who spoke those words to fulfill all righteousness. I saw a man who strongly believed in what he said.
Indeed, the only other person exuding such confidence is the man in the eye of the storm, Peter Obi. At a function some weeks back in Awka, Obi had declared that he ”must” be president of Nigeria, no matter how long it took. It was the first time many heard or read Obi talking that way; being that Obi is usually predictable by his measured way of talking.
Since then, not a few people have been wondering if there is anything Obi knows that they do not. I’m one of them.
Later while fielding questions from the press, Ozodinobi had said further that Obi would regain his mandate even if it was one day to the end of the Tinubu regime. That was exactly Obi’s posture way back in 2003 after his mandate was stolen, following the Anambra State governorship election.
It took him nearly three years to unseat the then governor; a feat never thought possible before then. Yet; many believe that the stakes are higher now and the circumstances different. But Ozodinobi does not agree.
Describing himself as George John the Baptist Ozodinobi, he said he was sure of the recovery of the mandate and sees himself as a forerunner as John the Baptist was.
The prayer session which was held at Egwegwe Square in Nimo Community, Njikoka, LGA, was and attended by clerics from different denominations, with the people trusting God to help Obi to reclaim his mandate.
In his speech, Ozodinobi told the people to remain patient and prayerful while waiting for the outcome of the legal action that is ongoing.
His words, ‘This is an interdenominational prayer meeting consisting of all Christian clergies. You can see the level of turn out of my constituents. We all turned out here to pray for Mr Peter Obi, who is also my constituent too.
‘We are very convinced that Obi won the election of February 25, but his mandate was unjustly given to someone else. So what we have done here today is to call on God to retrieve the mandate.
‘Obi will be president of Nigeria; that, we are sure of. They can only delay it, but even if it is one day to the end of the tenure, he will retrieve his mandate.
‘My only fear is that when he (Obi) will change the presidential election timetable in Nigeria like he did in Anambra, INEC will now tax Nigerians twice to conduct presidential elections separately and then others too,’ he said.
He said he licked honey and locust during the campaigns to ensure victory, while describing Anaocha as Nazareth and Obi’s village, Amatutu, as Bethlehem.
‘I’m neither a lawyer nor a judge, but this prayer is the least we can do to ensure that God guides the judges to do the right thing and if that happens victory will be ours,’ Ozodinobi stated.
He said he was motivated to hold the prayer because all power belonged to God and that he witnessed the electoral fraud which needed to be corrected.
Earlier, Rev Fr Venatius Ogbuagu, Parish Priest of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Ifitedunu; Rev. C.C Molokwu and Rev. Michael Ufoaro, led the sermon, prayer and praise sessions, respectively.
Fr Ogbuagu, in his homily, said: ‘If we all keep quiet and refuse to speak, the country would continue to deteriorate. What happened during the election is theft of mandate.
‘We are persistent in calling that votes should count in Nigeria because we can only hold those we voted to account. Those who we did not vote, but they stole the mandate, will never reckon with us.
‘They announced a winner of the election, and there was no jubilation anywhere. We are confident that God can do all things, and He will use the judges to do it, and you will see the real jubilation the day they will announce Peter Obi winner.’
He recalled how Obi ruled in Anambra and left without collecting pension.
‘Our problem in Nigeria are selfish politicians who have impoverished the masses. We need selfless and not selfish politicians. If Obi becomes president he will use himself and technology to fight corruption,’ he said, noting that it was time to leave Egypt and enter the Promised Land under Obi’s leadership.
‘Let the mandate be restored because it was stolen and announced in the night. It has never happened. We pray God to send down his angels to be part of the court process,’ he said, praying further that anyone opposed to good should be punished.
The prayer session was later led by Bishop Mike Ufoaroh, who along with other priests, prayed for Ozodinobi and Obi.
Indeed, given the swearing in of Tinubu as the country’s 16th president and the fear of the Nigerian Factor, the best anyone can do now is to hope in God for whom all things are possible.
Ozodinobi, was the only candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, in 2003 to protect his votes and grace the floors of the House of Representatives. It was an election characterized by massive rigging that robbed APGA in Anambra of its landslide victory but Ozodinobi survived, with Obi doing same, much later.
Today, Ozodinobi has returned to the Federal House after a massively rigged election that robbed Obi of his mandate. Obi is now in court and the question will surely be if history will repeat itself.
Also at the prayer session was one of Obi’s lawyers at the tribunal, Barrister Peter Afuba (SAN).15.