HeadlineITH EYES ON 2027 ELECTIONS: Obi, LP, Group Battle For Soul of...

ITH EYES ON 2027 ELECTIONS: Obi, LP, Group Battle For Soul of ‘Obidient Movement’

June 9, (THEWILL)- At the formal inauguration of the ‘Obidient Movement,’ which was renamed ‘Directorate of Mobilisation and Integration,’ by the Julius Abure led-National Working Committee, NCW, of the Labour Party, last Saturday, at its National Secretariat in Utako, Abuja, the presidential candidate of the party in the 2023 general election, Peter Obi, was conspicuously absent, though he was said to have approved the change of nomenclature.

The party’s National Publicity Secretary, Obiora Ifoh, who told THEWILL that Obi did not say he would attend the inauguration, even though he advised the party to “enlarge the scope of the directorate,” also disagreed with the suggestion that the party was on a wild goose chase because it was under the receivership of a restructuring committee of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, which sacked the Abure-led NCW after the controversial Anambra March 27, 2024 national convention.

Instead, Ifoh insisted that the new body would assist the party to mobilise and integrate members of the party and the general public, especially the youth, across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, towards achieving the party’s  goals.

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“The NLC and its committee are not card-carrying members of the Labour Party, so they are just entertaining themselves,” he said, in disapproval of the suggestion that the Abure-led NCW was politically non-existent.

BEGINNING OF THE SCRAMBLE

THEWILL recalls that Abure triggered the current scramble for the Obidient Movement on Wednesday, May 15, 2024 when he expressed concern that the ruling oligarchy and suspected saboteurs had infiltrated the ranks of the Movement to pull down the party.

Smarting from the internal criticism of the controversial national convention that threw him and the NWC up, as well as the ensuing crisis of confidence, following allegations of corruption in the party under his watch, Abure told journalists at a briefing held on that day that the attitude of some Obidient members had given “the notion that the movement might have been penetrated by the ruling oligarchy to erode all the gains they made in the past year.”

He appealed to the Obidient Movement to remain in the party and be patient to learn the rudiments of politics, find time to read its Constitution, the Electoral Act and the 1999 Constitution as this would enable them to “make a well-informed opinion about the activities of the party.”

Abure agreed that some of the complaints from the Obidients were correct and then he went on to announce the creation of a directorate to attend to the affairs of the Obidient Movement, coordinate the registration of members and integrate them fully into the structure of the party.

According to him, the directorate will also ease Diasporan participation, bring complaints to the attention of the party’s leadership, coordinate the collection of dues and donations to the party and ensure that all Obidients are financial members, working closely with the National Youth Leader, National Women Leader and the National Organising Secretary to create programmes that will fully and effectively assimilate all members of the Obidient family to the party.

A NEW GROUP EMERGES

Apart from the party, which is seeking the integration of the movement, a new body called Obidient Movement Council, comprising support groups, which campaigned endlessly in cash and kind for Obi and LP during the 2023 general election, has initiated moves to rally other members of the movement and “get more organised, ahead of the 2027 election, with no strings attached,” according to Comrade March Oyinki, President of the Movement for Change Worldwide.

Mr Oyinki, Chairman of the council’s Board of Trustee, told THEWILL on Friday that the group has offices in the United Kingdom, France, the United States and Abuja headed by individuals who are conveners of the support groups. The groups were literally active everywhere, home and abroad, during the last general election.

He disclosed that his group had nothing to do with the LP and its new directorate:

“LP has some members of the Obidient Movement, who are party supporters, even card carrying members. So, if they organise or change a directorate, that is only a fraction of the Obidient Movement. They are free to make that claim, but it is only those within the party that are in control.”

Oyinki maintained that Obi, in his recent statement, defined the Obidient Movement, thus clarifying issues that were still vague to the Obidients.

He said, “He also has ascertained in strong terms the multifarious nature of the Obidient Movement, upon which hinges the highly critical role of the support groups. They are the pivot upon which the entire movement revolves and that no one can wish away.

“The support groups are well structured bodies as demonstrated throughout the 2023 electioneering campaigns and polls, until they were destabilised by internal wrangling within the Labour Party.

“The Obidient Movement Council is established to fill that vacuum and provide a common front for the support groups and not for the entire Obidient Movement as mostly misunderstood by many.

“This is to prevent the kind of nuisance that occurred during the last general election, which left the support groups in disarray till this moment. That is why we should all embrace this new non-partisan and neutral group and work together to build a strong unified force that will provide the required leadership for the support groups in the Obidient Movement.”

He disagreed with Abure’s position that there was a crisis within the movement, necessitating some reconciliation and instead, contended that the party mismanaged the huge political capital freely given by the movement during last year’s general election, vowing that the support groups will still rally round Obi, but not for free anymore.”

According to him, the movement has different departments consisting of different classes of people spread across party members, non-party members, Nigerians in the diaspora, market women and men and youths generally.

“Nobody, not even Peter Obi, can control the group. What he says cannot be binding on every member of the group. Obi just happens to champion the new Nigeria as desired by the movement, where transparency, accountability and due process governance should hold sway. That is all,” he said.

THEWILL investigation shows that many members of the movement are still aggrieved over the shabby treatment meted out to those who became LP agents during the polls. They were never paid for it. In addition, none of them was made a member of the Presidential Campaign Committee, despite successfully embarking on a membership drive and recruitment at the grassroots level towards the victory of the party at the 2023 polls.

For its efforts, the party is reckoned with in the politics of the country today; it has one elected governor, Alex Otti of Abia State, 35 Representatives and seven senators in the National Assembly.

PETER OBI

The Presidential candidate of the party in the 2023 general election last Wednesday sparked a fresh debate about the movement with a post on his X handle where he defined the character, affiliation and composition of the Obidient Movement. He had declared: “The Obidient Movement is not a directorate of any particular political party. Any individual or individuals claiming to be leaders of this non-existent directorate are simply not members of the broader Obidient Movement.”

He said that as a diverse and inclusive global group with no religious, political and ethnic affiliation, the Obidient movement is “far beyond a particular political party, united by a shared vision for a new and better Nigeria, with an accountable and responsible code of government.”

Speaking on his relationship with LP, Obi added, “I remain a committed and loyal Labour Party member working closely with other leaders to reconcile our valued members and partner with like minds and political parties all over the country to build a strong and better party that will catalyse and commence the building of a new Nigeria.”

He confessed on Thursday that since he issued the statement, many concerned party members, Nigerians and journalists had besieged him to seek clarification of his intentions.

The spokesperson of the party’s Presidential Campaign Council, Tanko Yinusa, on Friday joined issue with LP on its new directorate,

“It is (Obidient Movement) bigger than the Labour Party. It is so because it is a movement of its own that has a life of its own. What they are interested in is good governance. Even if His Excellency [Peter Obi], does something that is not aligned with good governance, we will challenge it,” he said.

According to him, Obidients are loyal to the messages that connect to good governance and Peter Obi is championing that particular good governance.

Speaking with THEWILL on Friday, activist and staunch member of the Obidient Movement, Aisha Yesufu, said that there is no way LP can take ownership of the movement because there are many members who are not members of the party and they are not interested in being card carrying members of LP or any other political party in the country.

Harping on the sustainability of the movement, she agreed with Oyinki that the movement’s philosophy is not centred on Obi because it originated with the 2020 EndSARS youth protest against police brutality.

“After the killings that attended that protest, many youths who had never participated in governance realised the relationship between governance and their lives and how brutal government can be. Many politicians did not help matters when they openly mocked the youths and dared them to “change us if you do not like us.”

“At the end of the day, Obi became the beneficiary of the collective anger of the youth who had already started mobilising to register to vote. So, the movement was already building up and when Obi came up to run for office on the platform of the LP, he struck a chord with the youths who yearned for transparency and governance.”

ANY FUTURE FOR THE MOVEMENT?

Oyinki and Yesufu have said the movement has come to stay. The latter said that although Obidient Movement has no formal structure, it has worked well.

“It is like with EndSARS which had a vertical leadership structure that had many leaders across board as against the traditional, horizontal form of leadership structure. In the Obidient Movement, people are working together on the basis of their yearning for accountability, transparency and good governance. That is how it is; it cuts across Nigeria, it is global. There is a future for it because of the commitment of the people who want the country to work.”

Oyinki said that with the Obidient Movement Council compromising most of the support groups, the shared ideals of transparency, justice, equity and due process can only wax stronger within the rank and file of the groups as it expands globally.

“With the sustained yearning for good governance among the citizenry, particularly the youths, the movement can only wax stronger with the passage of time,” he said.

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Amos Esele, THEWILLhttps://thewillnews.com
Amos Esele is the Deputy Editor of THEWILL Newspaper. He has over two decades of experience on the job.

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