Published On: Mon, Oct 3rd, 2016

Governor Peter Obi’s Sermon On The Platform: The Youth Angle – By Onwuasoanya FCC Jones


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Anambra’s immediate past governor is one of the few Nigerian leaders you can proudly recommend to any youth as a role model. He stands out from the crowd of mostly self-serving, daft and dangerously ostentatious set of leaders we have in the country at present. This is not to say that he is perfect, nor can we really rate him among the best leaders in the world if we had some reasonable number of leaders to talk about.But if like my Igbo elders would say; in the land of the blind, a one eyed man is king; Peter Obi is a shining role model of whom a leader should be. Not just because of his beautiful speeches but also going by some of the things he was able to achieve as the governor when he held sway in Anambra. One of the salient principles of governance which the Agulu born businessman turned politician exudes is the fact that one must handle public resources like he would have handled his hard earned personal wealth. This is the idea every aspiring leader, especially in Nigeria and Africa generally must have about governance.
The country is the way it is because of the idea held by a good number of our citizens that government is nobody’s business and whatever government business you are given does not deserve any serious sacrifice. It is not unusual to hear people tell you that; government work should not be carried on one’s head, but on the shoulder, so that if it gets too heavy, you throw it off. Peter Obi got all the applause he got during his speech, because he was able to prove that he did not only carry his work as a governor on his head, but he also put all his heart to it, hence, his ability to achieve some of the enviable things he achieved in his eight years in office. This is why every line of that speech should be well recorded in the hearts of every Nigerian youth, especially, those ready to hearken to the former governor’s charge for us to show more interest in politics.
The acceptance which Peter Obi’s speech got goes a long way to show that Nigerians are not allergic to good leadership. In fact like every other group of people anywhere, Nigerians are desirous of good leaders and when they see anyone with the slightest promise of good leadership, they will be ready to applaud such person and even sing his or her praises to the highest clouds. The problem however, is; Nigerians hardly appreciate such leaders while they are still in power. We are better at recognizing and appreciating leaders who have either not taken up positions of authority or are already out of office. For those who are celebrated when they are out of office, it is either we concentrated more on castigating them for the mistakes they made while in power, or such leaders began to identify more with us through talks or actions when they must have left office.
For Mr. Peter Obi of Anambra State, he has seen both sides of the coin. As an aspiring governor, he was greatly loved by the people and throughout the three years he went from one court to the other either trying to recover his stolen mandate, arguing on why his tenure had to start from the day he took office, instead of from the day the person who was wrongly declared winner took office to the days when he resorted to the same judiciary to nullify a black market impeachment meted on him by some desperate power brokers from within and outside his State, the soft spoken entrepreneur turned politician always had the people on his side. But, a good number of his supporters distanced him when he consolidated on power. For some of the supporters, they became estranged with Mr. Obi because they found it difficult to identify with some of his policies and programs, while for some others, it was as a result of the pummeling the soft spoken governor got from the media. It did not matter, that most of these media pummeling were sponsored by those who were keen on taking the governorship from him. Such was the estrangement he experienced from even the most ardent of his supporters that he struggled to win his re-election bid and struggled even more in delivering victory to his chosen successor in office.
At the platform event during the 2016 Nigeria’s independence anniversary celebration, the former governor deviated from the usual reading of a prepared speech style for which the program and most other events like it are known. He rather used that event to give account of his eight years stewardship and recount the experiences he had as the governor of one of the most economically, politically, educationally and socially advanced States in Nigeria. I am not one of those who think that Obi was trying to score some political points with the theme he chose to dwell on in his speech, neither am I one of those who believe that he was completely sincere in the story he told. What I completely agree with is that; the leadership styles which the governor outlined in his speech are commendable and can be recommended for anyone who wants to succeed as governor in Nigeria or anywhere in the world. I also see that speech as containing useful nuggets on how the present Nigerian government can quickly wriggle itself out of the present economic quagmire, which it has found itself in.
Apart from his resume on how to run a slim government with the least possible avenue for waste, the line in his speech that got audiences across several platforms applauding is the revolutionarily tuned charge to Nigerian youths to rise up and take over their country. In the former governor’s own words; “ To you young people, take back your country, …it is your future they are toying with.”
This line in this speech should get every young Nigerian thinking really hard, no matter the part of the country you hail from or the political Party you belong to. This charge from one of those who is an integral part of the destruction being mated on our future should tell us that things are not really the way they seem. Those we think are obstructing us from taking over the leadership of this nation are not really that powerful, they may be disappointed that we still allow them continue doing things their own way, instead of taking over the nation and staring it to the direction we desire not just for us, but for our own children. For Peter Obi-a former governor, a former Chairman of the Security and Exchange Commission, a former Vice-Chairman of the Nigerian Governor’s Forum, a confidante of a former President of this country- to have issued out this charge to the nation, he does not only believe that it is possible, but he also knows what we do not know about how they have dealt so badly with our future. The truth is; if we do not rise up to the occasion, we will have no excuse to give our children for bequeathing the kind of nation we may bequeath to them if continue to watch from the sidelines as the present crop of Nigerian leaders erase our past, eat up our present and erode our future. If it takes a Peter Obi to wake us up from the unfortunate slumber that has taken up most of us, then, so be it, but we must wake up now or sleep forever.
There is no better way to take over the nation than through active participation in politics. That is why the former governor took his charge a step further by reminding his listeners of the need to be actively involved in politics. In his words; “I beg you to participate more in politics, the society we help them abuse today, will take its revengetomorrow.” The dirtiness, violence, lies, inconsistency and all the other human made mud splashed on politics has made it seem risky to a lot of our youths. Some youths would rather use their time to do other things than invest any of it learning or participating in politics.
Peter Obi is speaking the minds of many of his contemporaries by calling out to us to come and take over this nation. He chose his words carefully. He did not say; come and take your country from us, which may imply that if we come for the country, they will voluntarily hand it over to us. He knows that there is bound to be a struggle. It is only through well-coordinated and determined struggle that we can take over the mantle of leadership in this country. He said; “Take back”. This implies force, struggle and something not expected to be easy. It will be hard, but the good thing is that it is possible.
If we continue to watch from a distance, maybe take to the social media to complain and make noise without taking action to take back this country from the generation of our parents, then, we will wake up one day to find out that our parents have all died and the nation thrown on our laps to handle. Our parents can afford to mete the kind of abuses they are meting out on our nation now, because they may feel that they have little to lose. After all, how many more years do they have left? For us, for our children and most importantly, for posterity’s sake; let us wake up and take back our country before they completely destroy our future.

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