Nigerians, irrespective of age groups, ethnic divide, religious affiliations and occupation, trooped out, and defied the morning showers in Benin City to rally behind the ambition of Peter Obi and Datti Baba-Ahmed, the Labour Party (LP) presidential and vice-presidential candidates, respectively, for the 2023 general elections.
Tagged the “Obidient movement”, the residents, including senior citizens, marched from the different routes across Edo State to converge at the Oba Ovonramwen square popularly called ring road to commemorate Nigeria’s 62nd Independence day celebration.
Amid the presence of various security agencies, the demonstrators, who hindered movements within the Benin metropolis, said they decided to use October 1, to drum up support for Peter Obi’s candidacy, who, according to them, was capable of liberating Nigerians from the shackles of poverty, mitigating the rising unemployment level, revamping the dwindling educational quality and delivering good governance.
Aggrieved with the current state of Africa’s most populous country, the protesters, who wore branded shirts with “OBI/DATTI 2023” written on it, carried the Labour Party flags, chanted pro-democracy songs and unanimously stated they will become the “structure” to catapult Peter Obi to Nigeria’s seat of power.
Displaying placards with inscriptions, thus “With Obi/Datti, a new Nigeria is possible; if symptoms persists after 62 years, please seek the help of a saviour”, the protesters reiterated their stance against accepting money in exchange for votes and pleaded with Nigerians in other states to do same and join the movement in reclaiming the country.
“They said we don’t have structure, but you can see for yourself that we have what it takes to boost Obi’s voting numbers. We are here for good governance to support the Obi movement and this is how we want to create awareness,” says Osabuohien Nosakhare, a legal practitioner.
“What can we show as a country at 62? No electricity, unemployment is on the increase, there is bad health facilities, pensioners can’t even enjoy their entitlements and benefits. What about the poor infrastructure? All I can say is Nigeria is in a mess,” he added.
Clementine Akpoguma, a 68-year-old grandmother, said “I am not hausa, I am not Igbo but I am a Nigerian. The rally is for my grandchildren and children. We want to get it right by force for our children. In 1984, we entered England with little cash but you cannot do that today. Presently, prices of food stuff is on the increase and the masses are suffering.”
Jane Okokomon, an aged mother of three, said “A new Nigeria is possible. A new dawn is possible. I am joining in this movement and I am the structure for Obi. I want a better life for my children. We can’t continue like this with the current cost of living. We are tired and must change the narrative.”
For Patrick Ogiefa, Edo State deputy chairman of Labour Party, the movement is not for pecuniary gains but a rally for enlightening the masses on good leadership and how the dividends of democracy can be delivered to the citizenry.
“A time comes in the life of every nation. We are now awake to rescue Nigeria. This call is divine and blessed by God so we can change the narrative. Where are we? We are supposed to be the giant of Africa but it’s a shame we can’t boast of our status. We have prayed and God has answered, it is now in our hands to rescue this nation. This is a moving train,” Ogiefa said. (Business Day)