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Thepledge Big Story: 2023: Can Obi-Dients On Social Media Translate Their Enthusiasm To Votes?



By Augustine Akhilomen

If votes are calculated based on the popularity and acceptability of Labour Party Presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, by his teeming supporters, then the 2023 Presidential Election could be assumed to have been won by him.

The former Anambra State Governor has become more popular on social media than any other party’s presidential candidates, such as the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) since cross-carpeting to the Labour Party in the last few months.

The perception of Obi being a modern and liberal Nigerian politician resonates with the ideological leanings of Twitter Nigeria and other credible social media platforms. Thus, the former governor is that politician many Nigerian tweeps adjudged, to be clean, honest, and incorruptible. He is basically in their good books. Many of them with millions of followers see him as someone who can get the country out of the current challenges facing it.

Obi’s impressive profile both as a businessman and politician also contributes to his popularity among Nigerian youths, hence, the clamour for him to join the 2023 presidential race. And with his political antecedents as the former governor of Anambra, a lot of Obi’s supporters and campaigners on Twitter believe if elected, Obi’s presidency would take Nigeria out of the embarrassing mess the country currently finds itself in.

Recall that in the last decade, social media has become an integral part of elections around the world. In 2014, ahead of the 2015 elections in Nigeria, the use of social media platforms was an incredible tool utilized by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to challenge the then ruling party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption agenda was loudest on the various platforms like Twitter, Facebook, with several tweets and posts detailing the change agenda. Some of the champions of that social media movement today sit in the corridors of power. Indeed, the social media was effectively used by the handlers of the Buhari campaign in 2015 to polish his image and personality which further endeared him to many Nigerians who were hitherto not convinced about what he had to offer.

Today, the stake is even higher given the incredible growth in the number of Nigeria’s internet and social media users. And since the 2023 election is around the corner, social media gladiators have begun drumming support for their most preferred candidates.

According to data from google trends, Peter Obi is one of the most searched and talked about candidates. No thanks to the ‘I am OBI-dient Movement’ that has rented the social media space in support of the Labour Party presidential candidate.

However, when it comes to social media presence, especially on Twitter, considered the fastest and reliable news source that every political figure or brand tries to exploit and increase its reach, Atiku Abubakar dominates.

StatiSense reports that as at the end of June, Atiku had 4.29 million followers on social media ahead of President Buhari’s 4.14 million followers. Vice President Osinbajo comes third with 3.84 million, Dino Melaye(3.45m) and Bukola Saraki(2.88m).

Others in the list include Shehu Sani (2.62m) Goodluck Jonathan 1.95m, Ben Murray Bruce 1.85m, Jide Sanwolu (1.70m), Garba Shehu (1.42m) while Peter Obi completes the top 10 most followed politicians in Nigeria with 1.40m. Bola Ahmed Tinubu has 1.2M, and Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso trails with 202.3K followers.

Notwithstanding, it is important to note that Peter Obi’s media presence is growing rapidly and it added 357k new followers in June. If Peter Obi is to stand a chance come 2023, he will need the support of at least 15 million real voters at the elections, how this will be achieved remains to be seen.

But then, former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of All Progressives Congress, Yekini Nabena, has warned the presidential flagbearer of the Labour Party, not to rely on any support from his ‘Obidient’ movement ahead of the 2023 election.

Nabena disclosed that the former Anambra governor would be shocked to discover that the movement only exists on social media when the actual voting process begins.

“I can tell you that the so-called ‘Obedient movement’ only exists on social media and after the coming elections they will naturally turn to disobedient movement, and later obituary because the movement will naturally vamoose.

“The APC will secure nothing less than 2.1 million votes from Escravos to Forcados, Brass to Bonny, in the Niger Delta. This is because our people are massively coming out to get their PVC and they know the right party and candidate to vote for when the time comes.”

Former Niger Governor Babangida Aliyu said recently that Obi is a good candidate but 2023 would be too early for him to make it. Aliyu said: “Peter Obi is my good friend and a former member of my former Governors forum. A very excellent person. His candidature, in terms of the Presidency, – I think he will make some name now. But he may be able to make it only in 2027, 2031. But 2023? Too early.

“Even though the young people might go for him, the name is not dropping everywhere else. I doubt if Nigerians are ready for him now as a president. I would have loved him as a Vice President. Many of us were rooting for him to be Vice President to Atiku again.”

Activist and convener of Concerned Nigerians, Deji Adeyanju also advised Obi and his party to get serious and work on what could give them actual results at the 2023 general elections.

Adeyanju urged Obi to get serious and make arrangements to meet the presidential candidates of the New Nigerian People’s Party, Rabiu Kwankwaso urgently, adding that LP and Obi should reduce social media noise and get to building structures across the country immediately.

“And they won’t add any single value to him in the end. People will become more irritated by the day with their insults. You guys are living in a bubble on social media, US president & party flag bearers go to states to campaign with candidates,” the tweets further read.

Former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu also joined the debate, saying that people from the South-East will not vote for Peter Obi. The lawmaker from Enugu State, who is currently embattled, acknowledged that even though Obi is a credible candidate, the South-East needs to be dynamic and should not waste their votes on Peter Obi because he can’t win the presidential election.

There is no doubt that Obi remains a social media favourite, it’s however yet unclear if the enthusiasm shown by the so called Obi-dient movement so far can translate to meaningful votes in 2023. In other words, how far can the movement pushing the Obi project go beyond social media?

In truth, there are some critics who believe that the ‘noise’ by supporters of Obi will fade away gradually when the new football season in Europe begins in early August as well as popular reality show, Big Brother Naija, billed to commence on July 23rd.

Can Obi-Dient supporters resist the temptation, be focused and sustain the momentum up until next year’s elections? Only time will tell.

But some have also argued that what is pushing the Obi for President Movement is beyond the ordinary, adding that forces behind the endsars protest have regrouped and have formed a political action group to support Obi. Going by the planning and execution of the Endsars protest, it is doubtful if the enthusiasm of the ObiDients would fade anytime soon. Their victory is however hinged on how far they are able to use it to build a massive grassroots support across the country.

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Breaking: Tinubu Returns To Nigeria From UK



Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu returned to the country Thursday from the United Kingdom.

Tinubu, who left the country on September 24, returned on Thursday.

The last time he was seen attending a public event physically was on September 22, when he met with members of the Pentecostal bishops’ forum in Abuja

Details later…

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Tinubu Reading January Newspaper In October, This Photo Is A Disappointment – Omokri



Nigerian socio-political activist, Reno Omokri, has taken to the microblogging platform, Twitter, to mock the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congres (APC), Bola Tinubu, over a viral photo showing him reading a January 2022 newspaper in October 2022.

Recall that Tinubu had posted a photo of himself earlier on the bird app reading a newspaper.

Tinubu’s photo which is perceived to be an attempt by the presidential hopeful to dispel rumours about his health status has since generated a barrage of reactions on social media.

Joining the host of others in making a mockery of the presidential candidate, Omokri on Thursday afternoon wrote: “This story was published on January 23, 2022. First an old video of your riding an exercise bike. Now, an old photo of your reading ab outdated newspaper? Bola, you should definitely fire the propagandist handling your Twitter account.”

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2023: No State Or Community Will Be Left Behind If I’m Elected President, Peter Obi Assures Nigerians



Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, has promised that no state or community will be left behind in moving Nigeria forward.

He noted that if elected, his administration will tweak the security architecture, which will entail reform of security and governance. “We will restructure, re-equip and reorient the Nigerian Police: This will include 3 levels of policing- federal, state, and community,” he said.

Peter Obi disclosed this in his speech at Harvard University.

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Obi said he will ensure that in moving Nigeria forward, no state or community will be left behind. Pursuant to its statutory responsibility to protect, our government will promote equity in power and resource sharing.

“The federating units will enjoy discernible autonomy. Resources will also be shared equitably. A higher derivation paid to oil or solid minerals-producing states will not be tantamount to other states not receiving federal allocations that should keep them viable.

“We will tweak the security architecture, which will entail reform of the security sector and governance. We will restructure, re-equip and reorient the Nigerian Police: This will include 3 levels of policing- federal, state, and community.

“We will build a compact, robust and ready mobile police force with rapid response deployment capabilities; and legislate the establishment of state police based on community policing. We will raise the population-to-police officer ratio to a higher level” he added.

On Nigeria’s role in Africa and insecurity, he added that we must think seriously about a leadership that is imbued with competence, capacity, credibility, and commitment. Accordingly, we will pursue intangible assets of good governance, rule of law, and the security of lives and properties.

He added his administration will ensure that they have these assets in place and stress asset optimization.

“We will strike a strategic balance that allows us to promote and protect national interest while meeting our ECOWAS obligations.

“We will rebuild Nigeria’s military power, promote economic growth, and enhance its technological prowess with a view to improving Nigeria’s diplomatic influence in sub-regional, regional and global affairs.

He added that restoring leadership will require that we reassert proactively, Nigeria’s leadership role in African affairs through constructive engagement, peacekeeping duties, and using existing sub-regional and regional forums as well as bilateral platforms for dialogue on current and emerging challenges. We will continue to enhance our sphere of influence via peacekeeping, and trade and investment initiatives.

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