Obidients: Which Path, Civility Or Toxicity? – Amaka Ogunjobi

The 2023 general elections has come and gone, leaving in its wake – ethnic profiling, tribal bigotry, sectionalism, religiousfanaticism and a more divided Nigeria than we have witnessed since the civil war. The aforementioned direct consequences of the failings of the recently conducted elections have long existed with us as a people, however many Nigerians had hoped that somehow, the 2023 elections would heal a society that is fragmented along many lines – sadly such hopes were dashed and old wounds reopened.

The Mahmood Yakubu led Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) cannot be exonerated in any way from the current mood of the nation. The commission reneged on it’spromise of making the elections technology driven and uploading of results directly to its viewer portal (IREV) through the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS). This failure by INEC has become the foundation for the verbal altercations& growing mistrust amongst people that have lived together for years. The level of toxicity the 2023 elections has generated far supercedes any we have witnessed as a nation. People are now cautious about speaking their truths and sharing their opinions on national issues without being seen as ethnically, religiously and politically contentious.

At the center of this accusation of toxicity albeit untrue, are the supporters of His Excellency Mr Peter Obi known as the Obidients who have been alleged to venomously clamp down on any opinion that does not conform with their ideology of a better Nigeria. Factually, are the Obidients toxic? Are they being misunderstood or plainly being misrepresented? Are people just trying to demarket & deligitimize the Obidient movement? Some commentators have opined that Obidients are a representation of frustrated Nigerians who are tired of thecountry’s systematic failure and the old order while yet another group see them as a new generation of disrespectful individuals that are lacking in civility and good manners.

The “Obidients” cannot be said to be alone in this new wave of toxicity threatening to consume us all. The ruling APC and members of the “President-Elect’s” media team in particular are as guilty (if not more) of this toxic attitude that Obidients, who in most cases, are regarded as the sponsors of such verbalattacks – since their voices are loudest in the room, are accused of.

Whichever camp is orchestrating these attacks, one thing is certain; if this trend of vicious verbal attacks are not quickly addressed by leaders of the various political parties and their supporters called to order, the judgement of the electoral petition tribunal (whichever camp it favours), will only add to the already tense situation in the country. Nigeria appears to be few utterances and actions away from witnessing the level ofelectoral violence it did in 2011 when over a thousand (1,000) people lost their lives in the North. Only that this time, the violence will not be limited to Northern Nigeria alone.

It has become obvious that supporters of political parties have enormous power in their hands, however power without control and constraint leads to destruction.

Genius is found in the management of insanity – Dele Farotimi

His Excellency Peter Obi believes he won the 2023 presidential election and has committed himself to following peaceful and lawful means under the constitution in reclaiming the mandate. The best thing Obidients can do now is to channel their energy into holding government accountable and setting goals for the incoming administration instead of setting the country ablaze with ethnocentrism and bigotry that will take us nowhere. Accountability starts with each and everyone of us, irrespective of the political party we belong to or Presidential candidate we support. Let’s all follow the path of civility and peace in our engagements, online and offline

I am Obidiently Amaka Ogunjobi and I write from Lagos, Nigeria




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