Nigeria: Adichie and Obasanjo among Peter Obi’s big-name backers

By 'Tofe Ayeni
Posted on Thursday, 21 July 2022 19:03

Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at the Turin Book Fair 2021. Turin (Italy), October 14th, 2021 (Photo by Alessandro Vargiu/Mondadori Portfolio/Sipa USA)

Labour Party presidential candidate Peter Obi turned 61 on Tuesday 19 July, and award-winning writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie used the opportunity to share her endorsement. Obi faces an uphill climb, as his party seeks to take on the two parties that have controlled Nigeria's presidency since the country's return to civilian rule in 1999.

Adichie is from the south-eastern part of the country, as is Obi. The 44-year-old Enugu-born writer said: “I cannot wait for February 25, 2023, when I, with personal pride in you and with hope for what Nigeria can become, will cast my vote for you and your running mate, Senator Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed.”

Adichie made reference to the fact that she has known ex-Anambra State governor Obi for a while. She said: “My dearest big brother, I will never forget your kindness to my beloved parents. Thank you for the respect you showed them, for your many visits to Aba, where you gave Daddy and Mummy the most precious gifts; your time and attention.”

The popular feminist and writer thus declared herself a member of the ‘Obidient army’, as Obi’s supporters call themselves. She said that Obi sees “people as people, knowing that human value is not measured in material terms”.

Obi’s critics have described him as stingy, while supporters say he is simply frugal. He famously left the Anambra treasury with more money in it than when he became governor.

Adichie gave an example of Obi’s carefulness with money: “I remember when you came to support me as I was being honoured by the United Nations Foundation in New York, and I teased you about the inexpensive hotel you were staying in, and you shrugged and said ‘it’s just a place to sleep, why do I have to be in an expensive place?’”

Another prominent supporter

Former president Olusegun Obasanjo has also said he wants Obi to win the 2023 presidential election. Obasanjo, who was in office under the People’s Democratic Party banner, has been a crucial player in campaigning for the south-eastern candidate in the north of Nigeria.

When asked about this, Obi said: “What is wrong in Obasanjo selling my candidacy?” Media outlets reported that Obasanjo tweeted praise for the candidate, but Kehinde Akinyemi, his spokesman, told The Cable that the former president has no social media accounts.

Obi’s main supporters

Many of Obi’s supporters are young people. His fans raised millions of naira in weeks for the candidate, as they are desperate to free the country from the rule of the two dominant parties. Their flag bearers – Bola Tinubu for the All Progressives Congress and Atiku Abubakar for the People’s Democratic Party– have been at the forefront of politics since the end of military rule in 1999.

Many prominent members of the 2020 #EndSARS protests against police brutality have urged their social media followers to get their permanent voters’ card and vote for change by voting for Obi.

Analysts and voters are waiting to see if Obi can turn this support into a national force that can rival Nigeria’s two main political parties ahead of elections in 2023.

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