Connect with us

News

Peter Obi: The Labor Presidential Party Candidate is Energizing the Nigerians Youth

Published

on

A wealthy businessman with a reputation for being frugal, Peter Obi has emerged as a powerful force ahead of Nigeria’s presidential election next February, energising voters with messages of prudence and accountability that are amplified by an army of social media users.

In a country that seems to always be on the lookout for a messiah to solve its myriad problems, young social media-savvy supporters have elevated Mr Obi to sainthood and are backing his largely unknown Labour Party against two septuagenarian political heavyweights.

His name is often trending on social media on the back of numerous conversations sparked by his supporters, instantly recognisable from their display picture of his image or the white, red and green logo of his party.

These are mostly urban under-30s who refer to themselves as the “Coconut-head generation”, because they are strong-willed, independent-minded and contemptuous of older politicians who, they say, have done little for them.

Many of them, like Dayo Ekundayo from the eastern city of Owerri, were involved in the EndSars protests that forced the disbandment of a notorious police department two years ago and also morphed into calls for better government.

Now, they are deploying the same strategies that mobilized hundreds of thousands of young Nigerians and raised millions of naira within weeks for the 60-year-old who they consider an alternative to the two parties that have dominated politics since the end of military rule in 1999.

“Which Nigerian politician has ever held office and has his integrity intact? I do not see any other logical option for young people in Nigeria,” said Mr Ekundayo.

He has already been involved in a march for Mr Obi, and is providing logistics and mobilising students for the campaign as he did during the EndSars protests.

But opponents say Mr Obi is a political impostor, one of many who spring up at election time with delusions of being a third force that will wrestle power from the traditional parties.

Many supporters of the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and neutral observers agree he is head and shoulders above the other candidates, but say he lacks the nationwide popularity to win the election and have warned his supporters that they risk wasting their votes.

They believe he is a distraction from the common goal of removing the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) from office, and could split the opposition vote.

A devout Catholic from eastern Nigeria, they point to his lack of popularity in the Muslim-dominated north, whose votes are considered critical in winning presidential elections.

And his critics question whether he truly represents a break from the corruption he routinely lambasts, pointing out that his name popped up in the leaked Pandora Papers which exposed the hidden wealth of the rich and powerful in 2021.

While he was not accused of stealing money, he failed to declare offshore accounts and assets held by family members, citing ignorance.

He was also accused of investing state funds, as governor, into a company he had dealings with. He denied any wrongdoing and points out that the value of the investment has since grown.

Mr Obi repeatedly says he is not desperate to be president, which is ironic for a man who has changed parties four times since 2002.

He dumped the PDP just days before its presidential primary in June and the party went on to choose the 75-year-old former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar as its presidential flagbearer.

Mr Obi was Atiku Abubakar’s running mate in the 2019 presidential election which the PDP lost to the ruling APC

Critics say he pulled out of the contest because he knew his chances of winning were slim but he cited wrangling within the PDP, where he was a vice-presidential candidate in 2019, for deciding to cross over to the Labour Party.

His supporters are also convinced that he was pushed out of the PDP because he refused to bribe delegates at the party primary and have coined the phrase: “We don’t give shishi (money)” as a buzzword for his famed frugality and his prudence in managing government funds in a country with a history of wasteful expenditure by public officers.

They regard him as an unconventional politician prepared to take on the APC and PDP behemoths seen as different sides of the same coin, who they accuse of dipping their fingers into the public purse.

There is also a religious and ethnic twist to his candidacy.

In a country where roughly half the population is Christian, his supporters hope that this will bolster his chances of winning, as after eight years of President Muhammadu Buhari they would not want another Muslim – the APC’s Bola Tinubu, 70, or the PDP’s Mr Abubakar – to take office.

The OBIdients

Some also support Mr Obi because of his ethnic background. Igbos make up the country’s third largest ethnic group, but Nigeria has had only one Igbo leader, largely ceremonial, since it freed itself from British colonial rule in 1960.

Many Igbos accuse successive Nigerian governments of marginalising them and hope that Mr Obi will rise to power so that the south-east, where most of them live, would see greater development and so counter the pull of secession groups like the Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob).

A philosophy graduate, he worked in his family’s retail businesses before going on to make his own money, importing everything from salad cream to beauty products, and baked beans to champagne, while also owning a brewery and holding major shares in three commercial banks.

You can normally recognise a Nigerian billionaire from a mile off but Mr Obi is thrifty and wears it as a mark of pride.

He is quick to point out that he owns just two pairs of black shoes from midmarket British chain Marks and Spencer, prefers a $200 suit from Stein Mart to a $4,000 Tom Ford suit, and always insists on carrying his own luggage, rather than paying someone else to do it for him.

Even his children are not spared his frugality. His 30-year-old son was denied a car, he said, while his other child is a happy primary school teacher – a rarity in a country where a politician’s name often opens doors to more lucrative jobs.

Despite the financial controversy, his tenure as governor of Anambra state has become a reference point for his presidential campaign.

His supporters point out that he invested heavily in education and paid salaries on time – the simple things that most Nigerian state governors tend to neglect.

He also left huge savings in state coffers at the end of his two four-year tenures, another rarity.

Most of those supporting Mr Obi were involved in anti-police brutality protests in 2020

But Frances Ogbonnaya, a university student in Anambra state when Mr Obi was governor, is surprised by the praises being sung in his name, describing his tenure as unremarkable.

“Who saves money in the face of hunger? Who saves money in the face of a lack of facilities?” she asked rhetorically.

But it is his reputation for frugality and sound management that has attracted a horde of supporters, known as OBIdients.

Some have been accused of cyberbullying and labelling anyone who does not vote for him in next year’s election an enemy of the state.

He responded with a tweet calling on his supporters to “imbibe the spirit of sportsmanship”, but it has done little to calm them down.

They are quick to show anyone who tells them that elections aren’t won on Twitter, the crowds at offices of Nigeria’s electoral body where they have been flooding to register as first-time voters.

But this is not the same as actually turning out to vote on election day.

With months to the election, there is no denying the momentum building behind Mr Obi but cynics also point to the lack of a nationwide party structure to support the view that, while possible, an Obi presidency remains highly improbable.

He retorts that his structure is “the 100 million Nigerians that live in poverty [and] the 35 million Nigerians who don’t know where their next meal will come from”.

If half of those turn out to vote him on election day, it might very well be all that he needs.

Culled from the BBC News

Texas Guardian News
Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Houston

Otu-Umuokpu Anambra USA in Houston Gets New Leadership  

Published

on

Houston – TX: The Otu-Umuokpu Anambra USA Association Inc., Headquartered in Houston, Texas, has inaugurated its new executive leadership. An election was held in November 2023 where a set of new executive leadership emerged and was officially sworn-in on February 4, 2024.

Adaeze Stella Icon Adeone Samuel ( Stainless) is now the group’s new President, whereas Adaeze Nkiruka Mbonu ( Mmili doluedo) is the  Vice President.  Former President, Adaeze Dr Maria Elioku (Nkpulunma) remains the President Emeritus. A complete list of the new executive board members will be available on the group’s website, it was gathered.

While welcoming the new leadership team, President Emeritus Dr. Elioku thanked the outgoing executives for their impeccable service during their tenure. “As we all know, our mission as Otu- Umuokpu Anambra, USA Association is to promote and uphold our welfare and culture as well as foster unity, love, and harmony among us; and I am glad that within the past years, we were able to curtail distracting challenges to uphold those values,” she said.

Otu- Umuokpu Anambra, USA Association is a community of all paternal daughters of Anambra State of Nigeria with the core mission to promote and uphold the welfare and culture of her members; and foster unity, love, and harmony among them. The group has since its inception shared the uniformity of their ancestry as a unifying tool for community development and bonding of sisterhood.

For more information about Otu-Umuokpu Anambra, USA Association, Inc., please call 832-640-6329 or click to visit their website >>>>

Texas Guardian News
Continue Reading

Africa

Mexican Authorities say they saw a huge increase in migrants from Africa and Venezuela in 2023

Published

on

Mexican authorities say they saw a huge increase in the number of migrants from Africa and Venezuela entering the country in 2023.

Those migrants generally enter Mexico from Central America, and cross the country in a bid to reach the U.S. border.

Mexico’s Interior Department said year-end figures showed that nine times more migrants from Africa entered Mexico in 2023, with numbers rising from 6,672 in 2022, to 59,834 in 2023.

The report also showed the number of migrants from Venezuela more than doubled last year, rising from 96,197 in 2022 to 222,994 in 2023.

In part, that may reflect more rapid and more numerous movements of migrants through the jungle-clad Darien Gap that connects South America to Panama.

Smugglers are moving migrants more quickly through the dangerous route, which last year was traversed by over half a million migrants. Once in Panama, migrants make their way through Central America to Mexico.

Overall, the number of all irregular migrants found in Mexico in 2023 rose by 77%, going from 441,409 in 2022 to 782,176 last year.

Texas Guardian News
Continue Reading

News

White House pushes back on GOP attacks on Muslim judicial nominee

Published

on

WASHINGTON — The White House is slamming three Republican senators for leveling what it deems to be “cruel and Islamophobic attacks” at a Biden judicial nominee as part of a larger “smear effort” to discredit the man, who would be the first Muslim American judge to serve on the federal appeals court if he is confirmed.

GOP Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Josh Hawley of Missouri and Tom Cotton of Arkansas are being called out specifically for a “malicious” line of questioning about circuit court nominee Adeel Mangi’s views on Hamas militants’ terrorist attack in Israel on Oct. 7 at his December confirmation hearing. That led to a broader attack from the Judicial Crisis Network, a conservative judicial advocacy organization.

“While Mangi served on its board of advisors, the [Rutgers Law School Center for Security, Race, and Rights] taught students to hate Israel and America and to support global terrorism, blaming America for the 9/11 terrorist attacks — and most recently blaming Israel for the Hamas terrorist attack on October 7th,” the group wrote in a statement released Monday.

The White House said conservatives’ criticisms were driven by Islamophobia.

“Mr. Mangi has been subjected to uniquely hostile attacks, in a way other nominees have not — precisely because of his Muslim faith,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement first shared with NBC News. “Senators Cruz, Hawley, and Cotton owe Mr. Mangi an apology.”

“He represents the best of America, and when confirmed, Mr. Mangi will not only make history — he will make an outstanding judge,” Bates added.

The senators told NBC News they remain opposed to Mangi’s candidacy, with a Cotton spokesperson accusing him in a message of “ties to antiSemites,” a Cruz spokesperson saying the White House “can’t defend Adeel Mangi’s record” and a Hawley spokesperson saying of Mangi that “people who advise pro-terrorist campus groups have no place on the federal bench.”

All three cited Mangi’s involvement in the Rutgers Law School Center for Security, Race, and Rights and condemned its decision to host an event on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which featured as a speaker Sami Al-Arian, who pleaded guilty in 2006 to conspiracy to provide services to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The Biden administration is under pressure to improve its standing with Muslim and Arab American communities following its vocal support of Israel in its war against Hamas in Gaza.

President Joe Biden nominated Mangi to serve as a judge on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Philadelphia, last fall.

The Anti-Defamation League, which battles antisemitism, said Mangi was “subjected to aggressive questioning unrelated to his professional expertise or qualifications,” and it criticized the Republican senators for “berating” Mangi “with endless questions that appear to have been motivated by bias towards his religion.”

“This was an attempt to create controversy where one did not exist,” the ADL said last month.

Weeks later, the Judicial Crisis Network launched a digital ad campaign against Mangi, alleging he is antisemitic and “radical.”

Bates, the White House spokesman, wrote, “Mr. Mangi has forcefully and repeatedly condemned Antisemitism, terrorism, and the October 7th terrorist attacks.”

At the hearing, Cruz repeatedly asked Mangi whether he condemned the atrocities of the Hamas terrorists and whether there was “any justification for those atrocities.”

“I have no patience ― none ― for any attempts to justify or defend those events,” Mangi said in December in reference to the Oct. 7 attacks.

Nonprofit groups dedicated to combating Islamophobia in the U.S. have spoken out in Mangi’s defense, as well.

“The deplorable smear campaign against him is steeped in Islamophobic tropes that have no place in our country,” Arsalan Suleman, the CEO of America Indivisible, told NBC News in a statement. “The Senate should confirm Mr. Mangi as soon as possible and condemn these malicious and spurious attacks.”

So far, 177 of Biden’s nominees to be federal judges have been confirmed. More than 65% are women and 65% are people of color, according to the White House.

Biden has nominated and Congress has confirmed more Black women to life-tenured federal judgeships than during any previous administration, according to the White House, including Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman on the U.S. Supreme Court.

While Mangi has cleared the Judiciary Committee process in the Democratic-led Senate, it’s unclear when his nomination will be brought up for a vote in the next procedural step before a confirmation vote.

If he is confirmed, Mangi would be only the third Muslim American federal judge ever.

Mangi has served on the board of directors of the Muslim Bar Association of New York, the Legal Aid Society of New York and Muslims for Progressive Values and as an ally board member for the National LGBT Bar Association, according to his biographical page at the law firm Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP, where he is a partner.

Culled from the NBC

Texas Guardian News
Continue Reading

Trending