By Amanze Obi
THE electoral authorities in Sierra Leone have just commented on Nigeria’s 2023 presidential election. The focus was on Mr Peter Obi, who flew the flag of the Labour Party in that election.
Just a few days ago, the chairman of the country’s Political Parties Regulations Commission (PPRC), Abdulai Bangura, urged politicians participating in the country’s ongoing elections to borrow a leaf from Mr Peter Obi of Nigeria. He told his countrymen and women that Obi held so much promise in the February 25 presidential election in Nigeria.
He pointed out that Obi was a frontrunner who was tipped to win the election. However, when the results were announced by Nigeria’s electoral commission, the vote tally did not favour Obi. Bangura noted with satisfaction that Obi did not mobilize his teeming supporters to take to violence despite the fact that the election was believed to have been massively rigged.
Instead, the Labour Party candidate restrained himself and chose the legal option to reclaim his mandate. Bangura described Obi’s conduct as worthy of emulation and urged the people of Sierra Leone to, like Nigeria’s Peter Obi, approach leadership with restraint and selflessness. The PPRC Chief is satisfied that Obi has, through his peaceful conduct, saved his country from bloodshed.
From Bangura’s commentary, it has become a well-known fact that the preparations for, as well as the conduct and outcome of the February 25 presidential election in Nigeria have become a reference point not just in Nigeria but indeed the whole of Africa and beyond. Just as Nigerians were excited and expectant about the election, so was the watching world. Even after the election had, presumably, been won and lost, matters arising from it remain a subject of excitable discourse in Africa and the globe.
But the 2023 presidential election in Nigeria did not just happen. It became a turning point in democratic discourse in Nigeria and Africa owing principally to the participation of one man in that election. That man is Mr Peter Obi.
Obi happened upon the Nigerian polity like a storm. He came with a certain thunderbolt, attendant with suddenness and surprise. He went into the election with a refreshing outlook both in messaging and disposition. This caught instantly like wildfire. Nigerians had never seen such novelty and originality in their politics. That was why the greater majority of the people embraced him without reservations.
By restraining himself from going loose with his army of supporters after the election was compromised, Peter Obi has made himself a reference point. His exemplary conduct is worthy of emulation. This was what the Sierra Leonian party regulation Chief was talking about.
Unlike many before him who relied on violence and intimidation to win elections, Obi never preached violence. He did not deploy foul language in his campaigns. He remained civil and tame even in the face of provocations. Beyond all this, Obi did not rig elections and he did not ask anybody to rig for him. He played straight. That is why he is standing tall even in the face of daunting challenges.
Bangura has just told us the trending story about democracy in Africa. The story revolves around the name Peter Obi. Certainly, Bangura’s observation does not end in Sierra Leone. Other countries of the world where elections are still regarded as a do or die affair have so much to learn from the Peter Obi example. Indeed, Obi has become the new face of democracy in Africa.
For analysts, the Peter Obi disposition poses a huge challenge to our electoral courts. Going by the story emanating from Sierra Leone, Nigerians and the relevant institutions, especially the courts, are being watched. The watching world will like to see and know how the electoral infractions in Nigeria will be adjudicated upon. They will be interested in knowing whether the Justices will live above board. Will they deliver justice or politics? Time, certainly, will tell.