Onwuasoanya Jones is the Director of Strategic Communications for Peter Obi Support Network. He speaks with FRIDAY OLOKOR on the criticism against the presidential candidate of the Labour Party and former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, his chances in the 2023 elections, among other issues.
What differentiates Peter Obi from other presidential candidates?
First, you should agree with me that neither our group, the Peter Obi Support Network, nor the central campaign organisation of Mr. Peter Obi, can claim responsibility for marketing Mr. Peter Obi as different from other presidential candidates or even other Nigerian politicians; that consensus was reached by the majority of Nigerians through their observation of the person and personality of Mr. Peter Obi over the years.
Peter Obi has never said that he is different, but Nigerians from across partisan backgrounds are unified in their acceptance of this reality. Answering your question, Obi is different because he is the only in the presidency race whom Nigerians believe stands out the tallest in mental preparedness, in temperament, in integrity, in past records of public service, in passion and patriotism for Nigeria and in having a good grasp of the issues that trouble Nigeria.
Nigerians believe in his capacity and he is the only one that will win this election with more than 90% of votes cast in the upcoming election if you remove primordial sentiments and unnecessary partisanship.
What are those things Obi did in Anambra that he wants to replicate in the country?
Obi is about the only Nigerian executive governor who took office with a very simple and comprehensive blueprint for the transformation of his state. He didn’t hire professors and some consultants to create a manifesto for him. He had an idea of what he wanted to do, and he articulated it in a simple document or work plan; the Anambra Integrated Development Strategy—ANIDS.
This blueprint has something for every sector of the Anambra economy, and by the end of his politically tumultuous eight years as a governor, every sector was positively touched, and his signature was on every sector. He improved the security of lives and property by equipping the law enforcement agencies and empowering them to get rid of criminals.
Most importantly, he reduced the cost of governance to the barest minimum, such that by the time he left office as governor, Anambra was about the only state in the federation that wasn’t owing workers, didn’t have any debt anywhere in the world, yet, had billions of Naira saved up for the new government. Obi’s performance as Anambra governor is his bestselling point in this election.
Fortunately, the other major candidates have been in public office in the past. Nigerians are comparing their records in office and that will inform where most of them will vote in 2023.
As Anambra’s governor, Peter Obi was an inspiring leader. He was an accessible leader. He didn’t hang on a high horse but stood and constantly interacted with the people. The people knew him, and he knew the people. He allowed the people to become his godfathers, and he listened to them, which helped him in taking certain decisions that turned Anambra around for good.
A human right activist, Segalink, has accused Peter Obi’s supporters of cyberbullying of public figures, blackmail, and coercion. What is your view?
Peter Obi’s supporters do not bully anyone. Peter Obi himself has addressed this question before when he made it clear that some moles have been planted by the opposition to discredit his campaign and candidacy by acting in unruly ways and making it look like they are doing it for Obi.
Let me reiterate that both the Peter Obi Media Office and the Peter Obi Support Network do not condone any kind of insolence or rude attitude by either our volunteers or staff. We encourage civility in communication because that is the trademark of the man we are promoting.
You cannot effectively market a product without understanding the product, so I urge Segalink to provide any evidence where any official of POSN or Peter Obi’s official spokespersons or campaign staff cyberbullied anyone.
Peter Obi is the one being cyberbullied. He is being harassed by those we know to be directly associated with opposition presidential candidates, but we have always urged decorum.
In fact, it is a rule of engagement within POSN that you must not be uncouth, or else we boot you out.
He also said hate groups are holding Obi’s campaign hostage, thinking that public figures must submit to their whims and caprices…
I think we are giving undue prominence to this Segalink or whatever you say his name is. With due respect, we appreciate dissension with our campaign, but we do not give in to blackmail of any sort. Bring proof of what he accuses us of.
In all sincerity, I don’t know this Segalink of a person, and I have been around for a while in the civil society and media struggles. Maybe I know him by other names, or I might recognise his face if I see it, but in all sincerity, I don’t know that name.
It’s also argued that Obi’s only strength is on social media and doesn’t have the structures on ground to win the presidency. What’s your view?
It’s an insult to Nigerians to say that Obi doesn’t have a structure. Listen, when those other candidates talk about structure, they are talking about the millions of Nigerian youths they have turned into beggars. They are banking on these people voting for them and tightening the chains of poverty, unemployment, insecurity, dilapidated infrastructure, corruption, impunity, etc.
Obi is coming to break off those chains of slavery and free Nigerians. If you say that Obi doesn’t have the structure to win this election, it means you are taking Nigerians for granted. Peter Obi’s structure is the people, and those who discount the people’s power are not worthy to aspire to public office.
Are you sure of Obi’s victory? Even when he was in the PDP, the party did not win Anambra state.
Obi was never on the ballot in Anambra on the PDP platform, and of course, there is what we call voting culture. Every election has its peculiarities.
It should be the prayer of every patriotic Nigerian that Obi should win for Nigeria to survive.
Peter Obi’s recent trip to Egypt to understudy the country’s power sector, education, planning and finance sectors was met with backlash from Omoyele Sowore, who said it indicated Obi’s lack of preparedness for leadership.
Education is never-ending. Peter Obi likes to learn. He believes in updating his information all the time. It is only an individual who doesn’t understand the importance of research and the fact that knowledge is inexhaustible that would say such. Obi made the trip because he doesn’t want any laxity in implementing far-reaching and instantly impacted policies and programmes.
What do you think about some political hawks’ claim that Obi hasn’t come out openly to denounce the activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra, especially in the Southeast, and this may cost him the 2023 Presidency?
Obi has stated clearly that all agitations in the country are a consequence of the dysfunction in the governance system in Nigeria. His approach has always been to tackle issues from the root cause, not through cosmetic approaches. The activities of agitators in the country have been escalated by the levity displayed by the current government in attending to the yearnings of the people.
Today, every Nigerian has become an agitator for good governance. This is a trend that Obi will come to fulfill and give people a true reason to join in moving the country forward.
The alleged merger with Musa Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria’s People Party didn’t fall through, why?
The alliance talk was one between parties, and the outcome has been received positively in every quarter of Nigeria. There are numerous ways for an alliance to work. Kwankwaso is an elder statesman. We will continue to work with him and the NNPP in other ways to change the face of leadership in Nigeria.
In an interview on Arise TV News, Atiku said he was not expecting Obi and his party to pull off any surprise. He says 90% of Northerners are not on social media. What’s your response?
His Excellency, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, is coincidentally on his seventh voyage to the Presidency, and like the previous six, this too will capsize. This is especially because he has no respect for the Nigerian masses. He sees Nigeria as a commodity to be bought, used, and dumped, which is why he discusses structure as a predictor of electoral victory.
When the former Vice-President discusses party structure or political operatives, he is basing his entire argument on the assumed influence of corruption-promoting and vote-buying mercenaries known by various aliases such as “Apex Leader,” “political agafe,” “Master Rigger,” and so on.
There are also bandits and disparate criminals within the ranks of this so-called structure, whom they rely on to snatch ballot boxes, mass thumb prints, harass and intimidate the ordinary masses who may refuse to do their bidding and even assassinate those who they believe pose a threat to their egregious designs. This is why they make no deference to the unassailable powers of the ordinary masses of Nigeria, who actually are the most powerful force in a democracy and the key determinants of election victory.
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s assertion speaks to the illusions of the fascist school of thought who believes that the Nigerian masses do not matter and cannot afford a mind of theirs; hence, they are led by the ropes to cast their votes for parties approved of by the class of individuals mentioned by him.
In essence, he is saying that Nigerians are some kind of slaves who cannot take a political decision on their own, except as imposed on them by their slave masters. A reminder to the Turakin Adamawa is that the election will be held in 2023 and not in 2003. He needs to wake up and smell the coffee. He should realise a new Nigeria is being birthed and Nigerians are ready to take their fate into their own hands.