In the last couple of months, it is emerging clear that Peter Obi and his supporters, the Obidents, are not going to fizzle out as predicted by several political pundits.
In the South-east and South-south geopolitical zones, the spread of the popularity of the Presidential candidate of the Labour Party has redrawn the political map ahead of the general elections as campaigns thicken.
Instead of fizzling as predicted by many, Mr Obi and his supporters have grown significantly since May when Obi left the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
In the last couple of days, several political players in the two regions have intensified attacks on the candidate of the Labour Party. In the past, Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State and his counterpart in Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi have both taken slings at Obi, however, the pushback was swift, prompting both to recount their statements.
“We will not vote for the Labour Party, we will only vote for the APC. Our vote is for APC and not for the Labour Party. Our agenda is Ebonyi agenda. We will vote for our Presidential candidate in the person of Tinubu. We must strive to liberate Ebonyi State and that is our agenda,” Umahi had said in June.
However, in the past couple of weeks, the attack on Obi has intensified. It would be recalled that Chimaroke Nnamani, a former governor of Enugu State and Senatorial candidate on the platform of the PDP, had in a series of tweets in August warned his supporters not to risk voting Obi.
“Our party and platform is PDP. We must stand firm. We must not be swayed by the Obidient sentiments and vote Labour Party. If we blur the distinction, it will be difficult to reverse,” the tweet read.
Last week, Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State joined the fray by denying the Obidient movement the use of Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium.
Although the movement held a rally in the city with thousands on the street, Mr Obaseki in an interview, insisted that Mr Obi supporters may control the virtual world, but PDP controls the political structure.
During the week, the biggest attack against the presidency of Obi came from his State, when Governor Charles Soludo of Anambra State launched a fierce attack against him.
Soludo even implied that Obi’s candidacy is tactical support for the candidate of the APC, Bola Tinubu.
“Indeed, if I were Asiwaju Tinubu, I would even give Peter Obi money as someone heading one of the departments of his campaign because Obi is making Tinubu’s pathway to victory much easier by indirectly pulling down PDP. It is what it is,” he stated.
Why are politicians in the South-east, South-south against Obi?
The choice of Labour Party and the appeal to youths pose a significant threat to established political parties in the regions, Kelechukwu Eni-Otu, a member of the APC in Ebonyi State told DAILY POST.
According to him, “the fact that presidential elections and the National Assembly elections are on the same day, these politicians are just trying to avoid a tsunami.
“If the politicians in APC, PDP and APGA don’t react, there is a possibility that they will be affected by the Obi tsunami. We saw it in 2015 and 2019 in the North, where Buhari’s wave allowed several people to win the seats in Reps and Senate.”
Soludo is believed to be working to reduce the influence of the PDP in the State, because since 2015, APGA has performed poorly at National Assembly elections. In the current 9th Assembly, APGA has no single Senator but has about three Reps members.
This could be attributed to the fact that often, APGA does not present candidates for the presidential election. With Victor Umeh now in Labour teaming up with Obi, APGA may go into the election fighting against two formidable forces, PDP and Labour.
In Edo State, Governor Obaseki has been in a long battle with Dan Obih’s faction for the control of the PDP structure. He was ridiculed by Governor Nyesome Wike for not having control of the delegates at the last PDP presidential primaries.
Many believe that most people supporting Obi are people who ordinarily would have voted PDP. If Obi wins Edo State, it could have an effect on senatorial and House of Reps seats. In addition, there is the APC effect in Edo North, where Adams Oshiomhole is on the ballot.
Hence, Obaseki and the PDP in Edo will be going up against the APC and his former political mentor, Oshiomhole, while the Labour Party is also pulling votes.
The same could be said of Enugu State. For the very first time in 1999, Obi’s popularity among the youths presents the first serious litmus test for the party. And Chimaroke appears to have been spooked by the political calculations in the State.
As the campaigns progress, it is expected that many political gladiators will speak out more against Peter Obi as they struggle to hold on to their respective political structures.