Special to USAfrica magazine (Houston) and USAfricaonline.com, first Africa-owned, US-based newspaper published on the Internet
By Dr. Chidi Amuta, USAfrica Executive Editor, in Lagos
(Lagos, 1st October 2022). The traditional observance of Nigeria’s independence anniversary assumed a festive political garb today. In this boisterous city of over 20 million, independence Day literally turned into a giant political rally. In the count down to Nigeria’s 2023 general elections, campaigns officially began a week ago. As part of the campaigns, frontline presidential candidates have begun rallies in major parts of the country. The leading candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, of the Labour Party chose to hold his main inaugural campaign rally in Lagos. In a clear departure from the Nigerian norm, the Lagos rally took place in different districts of the city: Lekki, Festac, Ikeja, Surulere and Yaba as well as major high density lower class districts.
USAfrica magazine and USAfricaonline.com assessments of his strategy show Mr. Obi is specifically targeting a broad based support base of ordinary folk, those who have been left behind by the old politics of Nigeria.
The turn out was massive, defying early morning rain showers.
Most significantly, the rallying crowds defied a recent court and police order not to rally at the controversial Lekki Toll Gate. The emotional highpoint was at the Lekki Toll Gate when rallying youth burst out into a rendition of Nigeria’s national anthem. Not even the armed police men on duty at the Toll Gate could ignore the solemnity of the moment as they froze to attention as the youth sang.
It would be recalled that the Lekki Toll Gate had been the scene of an unfortunate blood bath in October 2020 when armed security personnel opened fire at youth of the ENDSARS movement protesting against police brutality.
Today’s Independence Day rallies of the Obidients in Lagos further reinforces the early lead which successive opinion polls (including Bloomberg)have given to Mr. Obi over his two establishment rivals, Messrs Atiku Abubakar of the PDP and Bola Tinubu of the APC, respectively.
In the months leading up to the February 2023 elections, all eyes will remain fixated on how far Mr. Obi will maintain his unexpected lead in the race for Africa’s most coveted presidential slot. Join the interactive platforms of USAfricaLive via Whatsapp