Between 2014 and 2015 when the presidential campaign was on, I took a decision not to make any denigrating statements against Buhari in line with my philosophy of living and letting live and respect for the other person’s point of view.
Based on the promotion of electoral transparency, lack of desperation, a sense of fairness which Jonathan had displayed and the fact that I wanted the South-south not to complain in future of not being allowed to complete their tenure, I preferred Jonathan. But I vowed not to say any insulting or denigrating words against Buhari. I only chose to show why I felt Jonathan was a better option.
It was my right to support any candidate. It was also the right of my friends and other people to support their own candidates. I never condemned them for one day for choosing which candidate to support.
Despite all that, I was continually attacked and called names. If the name-calling or attacks came from unknown online people, it would have been easy to understand. But even people who were very close to me in real life were part of the attackers.
Let me give instances of the type of relationship I am talking about. If a friend is out of employment, and you see an opening for someone and makes every effort to see that the person gets the job, it shows how dear the person is to you. If you have a company and employ someone to work for you, with the person later leaving on a good note for greener pastures, naturally you have a relationship in which the person continues to see you as “my boss” and is usually careful about what to say to you.
But in 2014 and 2015 when the Buhari campaign was on, some people with whom I had such long relationships threw all that away because of Buhari. They easily cut relationships with me simply because of my right to support my candidate, not because I ridiculed or insulted Buhari. There were other people who blocked me or unfriended me without even my knowledge. Some only told me years later when they had become disappointed with Buhari’s leadership style.
Yet all this bile was not used against Buhari’s candidacy.
Remember that in 2011, when it was clear that Buhari was losing to Jonathan, his supporters went on a rampage and murdered 11 NYSC guys sent on national duty. They also killed dozens of other people and burnt many houses and vehicles.
Between 2014 and 2015, Buhari’s supporters burnt the billboards of Jonathan and campaign vehicles. It was not enough. They pelted him with stones when he went to campaign in some Northern states. Some people justified it and clapped for them.
This bizarre intolerance was not used against Buhari.
Northerners in PDP and APC turned the Buhari project into a northern project. It was not used against Buhari.
Jonathan and his wife were called unprintable names by governors, Senators, Nobel Laureates, columnists, and analysts. Some people put his name on a goat, while some used a coffin to conduct a mock funeral for him. Many people laughed that Jonathan was being dealt with.
Buhari himself used words of violence like “Ku fita ku yi zabe. Ku Kasa, ku tsare, ku raka ku tsaya. Duk wanda bai yarda ba, ku halaka shi.” (“Firstly, you must register, come out and vote. You guard, protect, escort to the collation centre and you wait until the result is counted. Anyone who stops you, kill them!”) and “If they rig, the dog and the baboon will be soaked in their blood.” Yet, many Nigerians overlooked all this and continued to campaign for Buhari until he was declared the winner.
Before the 2015 election, many people ran away from Nigeria for fear that if Buhari lost, his supporters would unleash unimaginable violence worse than what they unleashed in 2011.
But here we are in 2022 with many people employing reverse psychology, subtle blackmail and gaslighting against the candidacy of Peter Obi, using his supporters as an excuse.
You hear empty statements like: “Peter Obi is good but his supporters are so rude”. “Peter Obi is a good candidate but his supporters are demarketing him by making him an Igbo candidate.” Ettu Mohammed asked people to present screenshots of the insulting statements made by Peter Obi’s supporters, and the few who brought out screenshots showed things like “Your candidate won’t win. Let him support Obi.” These are the insults that have been bandied around and used to silence those supporting Peter Obi.
The same Peter Obi’s supporters have been told that they are wasting their time and votes because Obi will not win, and they said, no problem. They have been told that Obi won’t win because he has no structure, and they said, no problem. Even though many opponents of Peter Obi say that he is not the frontrunner, no presidential candidate gets the amount of negative posts from those who are against his candidacy like Peter Obi does. While Obi’s supporters write about Peter Obi, his opponents spend more time writing about Peter Obi than their own candidates. And when they make it their duty to destroy the candidacy of Peter Obi, they believe that Obi’s supporters will post love notes under such posts.
Peter Obi is the candidate on the ballot. He has made it clear over the years that his campaign is about issues and will always be devoid of personal attacks and mudslinging. If you sincerely want a better Nigeria, support him. If you don’t want to support him, boldly support your candidate and stop looking for excuses to push forward as the reason for supporting somebody whose image runs against what you have been preaching for years.
If you are a supporter of Peter Obi, don’t allow anybody to use reverse psychology, blackmail and gaslighting to distract you from your conviction that #PeterIsBetter than other candidates in all ramifications. The next president of Nigeria will not govern only those who voted for him. Nigeria is in a mess today – both those who voted for Buhari and those who didn’t are suffering the repercussion together.