I Would Vote Peter Obi But I Hope He Does Not Win

Wait hear me out before judging me  … and this is a long read. The Nigerian Presidential Election (if not postponed) is just under 1 week away. I have spoken in the past about the two key problems that must be fixed in Nigeria: Systemic Failures & Resource Leakages. You may call them 2 sides of the coin “corruption” but I assure you the two problems are distinct. They are also solvable.

One more thing, if you have not read, my thoughts around #voteAnAlternative towards #NigeriaDecides2019, please read this before proceeding. You will find that here: voteanalternative2019.carrd.co.  I will wait…

Reading that may help you get my context better. Of Course history has it that “ALL” the alternatives combined in 2019 failed to muster up to 4% of the votes at that election. We failed to #voteAnAlternative. Woefully !!!

So why would I vote Obi this time around ?

It is because my pastor said so!  No, No, No… wait… I was joking, my pastor didn’t name any candidate but if you are of that persuasion,  Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) gave a profile of the type of candidate I would vote for. Peter Obi ticks many of the boxes. Unlike some of the other candidates.

OK, but seriously! I would vote for Peter Obi. He best modelled many of the values I believe the next leader of Nigeria must possess particularly at scale. He also made bold claims that should not have been hard to debunk about his track record and past performance. Many have not been proven to be untrue. He is not perfect but he seems like a fantastic fit for the job.

I am guessing you agree so far and that is why you have read this far…

So why don’t I want Peter Obi to win? It is because his winning would break many people’s hope for a better Nigeria. I know you are about to disagree again but wait I promise you … I am not mad nor stupid … read on.

The problem is that many people believe Peter Obi to be some sort of Messiah. They believe once he wins. Everything wrong with Nigeria will be fixed overnight.  They have subconsciously given him 100 days or less to fix all the problems of Nigeria.

I know! The fact that you are reading this at all makes you one of the elites that can afford data (or to read from diaspora). It is possible you don’t have this mindset … but I would ask you this…  think about it …  sincerely, how many years did you give him to start showing results?  a year, 2 years ? Maybe even 4 years ?

The problems of Nigeria can’t be solved overnight. I feel like we need a minimum of 10 years short of a miracle. One election can help us move in the right direction … but expecting a huge change overnight is setting the next leader up for failure.

… and herein lies the problem. If the benchmark for success is a better Nigeria overnight, Peter Obi (and anybody else in fact) has failed already !

If you agree with me that sudden change should not be the benchmark for success for any candidate, then know you are most likely in the minority. Many of my peers, colleagues and many others in my social network seem to believe otherwise. It is a frenzy. It is easy to get caught up in the bubble. Perhaps this write up is a reality check for us all.

We run a democracy not an autocracy! Our system is broken at multiple layers. The democratic pillars needed to effect change heavily depend on the same broken system.   Our legislature and judiciary seem to be inefficient at the very least. I would even venture far to call it as it is and say corrupt ! This is the system our new leader has to navigate to fix Nigeria. We have seen a lack of “political will” to make a difference in the past. Assuming the new leader has the political will to rebuild our systems, the reality is that visible progress will be slow. 

This now brings me to the civil service which is also inefficient and sometimes ineffective. It is very difficult to fire one civil servant, not to mention doing a mass layoff. This is what I believe is needed in that sector. How I wish Nigeria was like Twitter where one crazy billionaire could sack a significant portion of the workforce without significant repercussion. The platform is still running fine weeks later. Shouldn’t it make you wonder if those people were needed for anything but R&D in the first place ?

My point so far is that it is nearly impossible to meet most people’s expectations for the new leader of Nigeria.This is because of the golden handcuffs that a democratic leader has been bestowed. It is also better to rebuild Nigeria gradually. The alternative would be a revolution. I don’t see a middle ground. A bloodless revolution has not yet been invented. Many will die and there is no guarantee of success in the end.

So what is the point of voting alternatives (#voteAnAlternative), If they won’t win?

It is about building new Systems and Structures. Nigeria currently has corrupt political structures which cannot sustainably produce good governance.

New (and Clean) Political structures take time to build. It will also need a lot of money and a lot of support. These 3 are missing at scale right now at a national level. We also need the same at the State and Local Government level.  We should have a system that would throw up the best amongst us to lead us. 2023 election should be a show of force of some sort. 

If #TeamAlternatives (including Peter Obi) can show a minimum of 20% of total votes cast, 2 things will naturally happen. The first is that more people will then have Hope, a critical factor needed to build new political structures towards 2027. New Candidates may emerge. Existing Structures may even merge.

The second is that the Status Quo will sit up. The existing political class realising that the time for sub-standard governance has passed will work to please the electorates and not their God fathers and their cronies. 

This is why the 2023 election is so pivotal to Nigeria finally achieving its potential.

A question that typically comes up is what if Tinubu or Atiku win while we are voting for alternatives(depending on who you think is the greater evil). The truth is I was really hoping to see a final showdown of Osinbajo (APC) and Obi (PDP) during the primaries. Predictably, our broken political system threw up significantly more questionable politicians as winners of the respective tickets. There are stories in social media of how the winners of the two leading parties emerged. A vote for #teamAlternatives is a vote against what APCPDP stands for at this moment in the history of Nigeria.

The truth is that APCPDP at the moment is the “ same of the same”. There is very little a President (even with the best intentions) can do in a democracy if they do not have the support of all the other organs of government. There may be a marginal difference between these two candidates. However, their political structures are basically two evils. We have an Alternative.

Regardless of who emerges as the winner out of the two dominant parties, the alternative campaign is advocating for victory in the long run. Your vote would count for something bigger. In addition, who is to say the alternatives can not win? 

One more thing, I don’t have complete data but it seems that many of the people around me planning to vote for APCPDP presidential candidates have ulterior motives. Some would get closer to power if their candidate wins. Some are registered members of these parties and hope to rise in ranks. Some were done a favour in the past and are simply returning the favour. “Peter Obi no dey give shi shi” is a mantra we all joke about. Many of his supporters are simply hoping for a better Nigeria. This is political structure in a sense. This is the political capital that Nigeria needs right now. 

I am praying Obi (and the rest of #teamAlternatives) gets up to 7 million votes ( half of the winner’s votes) or atleast a strong 20+% of all votes. I know many believe he can win. I am not as bullish. I am simply hoping for a strong showing. It would be a disaster if this does not happen. It would mean the “establishment” will see that we are all noise and no threat. The level of impunity in governance in Nigeria may even become worse. 

This is why I would vote for Peter Obi but for his own sake, I hope he does not win! Unlike the last time, we have one strong alternative that people without encumbrances can converge behind … and even if you don’t like Peter Obi , there are a few other good candidates out there albeit with significantly less traction.

So here is my submission,  please  #voteAnAlternative in this election. Vote Wisely!!!

This Article was written by Bade Semowo

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