Anthony Obi OgboColumnsNigeriaOpinionThe rousing Peter Obi movement—is radical change finally coming to Nigeria?

Advocacy to vote for individual candidates without considering their party affiliation will not change the current system; rather, it may yield a disruptive and regressive governance environment —Anthony Obi Ogbo

The current governance system in Nigeria has reached the brink of structural catastrophe. The entire leadership system is wrecked beyond recognition, and the victims of the ineffectual and callous leaders are those who cheered and voted for them. There are clear indications that a radical change is needed to rescue this nation from a deadly slumber. Unfortunately, the masses yearning for system overhaul have been hypocritical and reluctant in using their electoral privileges to facilitate a new paradigm through the polls.

Just recently, Nigerians have witnessed an eruption of youths, all over the country but predominantly in the south, showing up in unprecedented numbers to acquire their permanent voter’s cards. This movement saw a massive surge in voter registration and prompted the Independent National Electoral Commission to extend the registration exercise to September 2022.

Without a doubt, there is tension among party stakeholders regarding the current movement. Contenders in this election already know that Nigerian youths do not play when they unite to fight a cause related to system woes. Indeed, they have every reason to worry, because these young people are advocating for Peter Obi, a charismatic former governor of Anambra State, who defected a few days before his People’s Democratic Party primaries to become the Labor Party’s flagbearer.

Obi is a smart man—a compassionate conservative moderate—who has for months profiled himself as a righteous anti-establishment candidate ready to overhaul the social, political, and economic principles of the system. His message has resonated with the Nigerian Youths, who are voluntarily trooping out in their masses to blow his trumpet. Their excitement over changing the system is generating extensive attention, and for good reason.

The last time Nigerian youths championed a cause was around October 2020 when they created an internet hashtag that took Nigeria and the world by storm. #EndSARS, initiated through Twitter, was a call for the disbandment of Nigeria’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad. This movement drew the support of many world leaders, including the United Nations’ Secretary-General, António Guterres, and United States (US) President Joe Biden.

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude ” —Maya Angelou

However, these young people are right; the only option left to save Nigeria from the current disaster is a total governmental overhaul—a radical change that would usher in something entirely new. The embrace of a new paradigm could facilitate a revolutionary replacement of old beliefs and ways of doing things with fundamentally new concepts. According to the American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

The value of change has been acknowledged throughout history. Nineteenth-century African American social reformer and abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, understood the necessity of transformation. According to Douglass, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” Barack Obama II, the 44th president of the US, also made sense of the change process. According to Obama, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”


The question, however, is about how this movement can be translated into actual votes, how to translate those votes to victory, and how to ensure that victory leads to legislative policies that open up the path to transformation.

In the presidential system, one major problem with anti-establishment lone candidates or parties is that they often struggle with governance. Currently, the Labor Party—which Obi represents—has no seat in the Senate and only one seat in the House of Representatives. Therefore, promoting Obi without his Labor Party and all the Party’s candidates in the legislature might not accomplish a drastic system transformation in the long run.

Therefore, the current advocacy to vote for individual candidates without considering their party affiliation will not change the current system; rather, it may yield a disruptive and regressive governance environment. To prepare Obi for victory, as well as position him to lead an anticipated change culture, the Labor Party must be carried along with him. They must win significant seats in the forthcoming election. If not, an Obi presidency under the existing structure would be a square peg in a round hole. Such a calamity would see us witness a president of Igbo descent struggling in a den of hostile and antagonizing system adversaries.

♦Publisher of the Guardian News, Professor Anthony Obi Ogbo, Ph.D. is on the Editorial Board of the West African Pilot News. He is the author of the Influence of Leadership (2015)  and the Maxims of Political Leadership (2019). Contact:

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