By Peter Obi
ON 25th of February 2023, millions of Nigerians from all walks of life, across generations and backgrounds, from Bornu to Lagos, Port Harcourt to Sokoto, Kano to Enugu, Taraba to Ondo voted strongly and resolutely to take back their country. They voted for Labour Party; they voted for a New Nigeria! I most sincerely continue to thank all Nigerians for their genuine belief and commitment that a New Nigeria is possible through us. And indeed, it is possible and has started!
During the campaigns, we travelled across this our most blessed and beautiful country Nigeria. We interacted, listened and learnt from you and was most humbled by the millions of young Nigerians who passionately invested their resources, time and life to our call and demand for a Nigeria that works for all. We met very genuine and patriotic Nigerians who eagerly volunteered and gave whatever they can for a New Nigeria. Their genuine and emotional commitments were not based on religion, tribe, gender, class or any of the sentiments that divide us. It was based on the honest desire and belief for a New Nigeria where the freedoms and potentials of our greatly endowed country and her youths will be supported to create an inclusive, sustainable, growing and progressive Nation.
With increasing poverty, insecurity, corruption, unemployment, failing educational and health systems, the general state of our dear country and economy is troubling. What INEC did with the WILL OF NIGERIANS on the 25th of February is even far more troubling. It will only serve to exacerbate our sad situation, frustration of the people and the deterioration of the country. As we are directed to go to court, we call on INEC to provide all the required materials and access to our legal and technical teams to do their job. INEC should not be a hinderance to the efforts to get justice for a New Nigeria!
History has taught us that the destruction of a society can be gradual or sudden through deliberate manipulation of the rule of law and suppression of the will of the people. However, rather than dampen our spirit, we are doubly inspired by the creativity, passion, patriotism, and relentless optimism of Nigerians particularly our youths on the need and urgency of a New Nigeria. It is a demand that its time has come. While we are all aware and can see the deliberate and unpatriotic efforts to stop our march to freedom, please be assured that while we can be delayed, a New Nigeria Will Never be Denied!
I particularly salute young Nigerians who braved the challenges, withstood all kinds of difficulties and other contrived obstacles to cast their votes and make their voices heard. It was very loud and clear to Nigeria and the Global Community! Through your dynamism, creativity, optimism and passion for a New Nigeria, we derive our inspiration. For instance, undaunted amidst all odds, Yusuf Alabi stood in front of my moving car with his two hands fully stretched! I was tired that day but in him I was re-energized.
As he gazed at me, I saw hope, determination, love and passion. My belief in the need and urgency of a New Nigeria was strengthened. Please note that he didn’t stand so radically and bold because I am his uncle, an Ibo Man or a Christian! He stood because in us, he is convinced and believe that a New Nigeria that will better his life is Indeed Possible! His desire which represents the appeal and prayer of majority of Nigerians must be achieved and sustained. He like many other Nigerians defied all odds and demonstrated to those that said we had no structure, that our unity of purpose, courage, love, commitment and resilience are the ingredients for the most powerful structure in our country. This is why the victories we won on 25th February must be repeated on 18th March 2023. Our victories are not for Datti Baba-Ahmed and I but for Nigeria and Nigerians especially the youths who desire a better future of unlimited opportunities.
I am especially gratified by the fact that many of you were voting for the first time, and you have demonstrated without question your capacity to shape your country and its destiny. I salute your courage, resilience and resolve. All of us including many local and international observers lamented the poor conduct of the Presidential Election on the 25th of February. It is very obvious that it was deliberately conducted in gross deviation of the agreed rules and regulations. Expectedly, the results were most condemnably manipulated to suppress and subvert the will of the people. It is being generous to say that the elections fell far short of minimum acceptable standards of procedural integrity and democratic practice.
Let me reiterate that our team is taking up all these issues through all available legal and peaceful channels and I continue to urge all of you to remain peaceful and law abiding. Despite these setbacks we are undaunted and remain resolutely committed to the fight for a New Nigeria as it is an idea whose time has come. Datti Baba-Ahmed and I therefore implore you my dear brothers and sisters, that March 18th is another day and opportunity to birth a New Nigeria.
The Governors and State House of Assembly members will be elected, and I urge you all to use the same burning passion and commitment to troop out and vote for Labour Party- the character and competence you can trust. Vote for a new set of dynamic and people-oriented leaders to birth a New Nigeria. We have the patriotism, love, unity and power to defeat the forces of division and prejudice as they represent a brand of politics that has expired and cannot take us into the future. As we are counselled, we may differ in tribes and tongues, but we profess our unity in love and brotherhood to recreate a Nation where no Nigerian will be oppressed and where peace, fairness, justice, equity and prosperity will reign.
Irrespective of what INEC announced, we do know that in several states across our dear country, Nigerians massively voted for a New Nigeria on 25th February, for a new direction, for a new leadership, for a better life, for new opportunities that will see them compete with the best in the world. They voted for a transition from consumption to emphasis on production, they voted to have a country, strong and respected within the comity of nations. They did not vote based on religion, tribe, class and other sentiments of division. They voted for a New and United Nigeria led by Labour Party, they voted for brotherhood. I implore you to do the same on the 18th March 2023. Vote for a new set of dynamic, committed and competent leaders. That is the spirit that led to the emergence of Rishi Sunak as UK Prime Minister; Sadiq Khan as Mayor of London and many others like Barack Obama, former US President. It is time to put in place a government that we will all participate in forming, that will be accountable and deeply committed to a New Nigeria, a Nigeria that is inclusive and sustainably growing for the benefit of all. That is the kind of Government we want across all states of Nigeria.
Over these years, you will agree that every time the possibility of progress and a new Nigeria has arisen, the forces of retrogression have attacked it with weapons of division, violence and prejudice. The same thing is happening now. We must all in unity, say no and totally condemn those that are invoking tribal prejudice, hatred and violence. Killing and attacking people, burning markets and properties, suppressing people from a section of the country must stop and should not define our politics. We continue to pray for our brothers and sisters that lost their life in this struggle and for those that were attacked and injured, May God heal and strengthen you all. Our security agencies must ensure that the perpetrators face the law and that all Nigerians are fully protected irrespective of their political affiliations.
Like in other states, in Lagos for instance, Nigerians of all tribes, religion, culture and backgrounds voted for Labour Party and other parties. Their desire to repeat this their fundamental right on Saturday 18th March must be respected and protected. The New Nigeria we are pursuing, and desire is not based on tribe, religion, culture or class. It is based on a Nation that is inclusive and works for all.
To those that did not vote for us at the Presidential election, I say to you, ‘we bear you no grudge. We are fighting for you so that we will hand our children and youths a country and banner without stain, where justice, peace, love and prosperity will reign. Join us as we are one family- A Family of a New Nigeria That is Possible! All of us that believe in equity, justice and fairness and in a better country must no longer be a silent majority. A New Nigeria is not only possible; it is already being born and Nigeria will prevail and rise! God bless you all and The Federal Republic of Nigeria.
***Peter Obi is the Labour Party Presidential Candidate.