‘Obidience’ or Sacrifice Can Peter Obi Actually Lead Nigeria?

A former governor of one of Nigeria’s most electorally volatile states, Peter Obi is no left-force tyro. Regardless, he faces almost impossible odds of winning the election. But should his ‘Obidience’ movement succeed, and should he win, he and his supporters must contend with the reality of the sacrifices he might have to make to fulfil his campaign promises.

Editor's note: This essay is available in our print issue, The Road to 2023. Buy the issue here.

Among the stories and anecdotes extolling former Anambra State governor and current Labour party frontrunner, Peter Obi’s humility and frugality, one that stands out involves Lady Bianca Ojukwu. In this story, the former ambassador to Spain and wife of the late Biafran leader tells what transpired when Obi (then a governor) was scheduled to attend a black-tie event as a guest of her family in Dallas, Texas. On discovering that Obi did not travel with an attire suitable for the event, she took him to a luxury men’s boutique to select a suit. He protested and instead opted for a much cheaper, basic suit. She recalls,

To cut the story short, he refused to pay what he termed ‘that outrageous price’ for the Tom Ford suit and that was how we ended up at Steinmart where he agreed to pay a more acceptable price of 220 dollars, tax inclusive, for a basic men’s suit which he was happy to wear to that evening’s event. What struck me, was that as we were on the way to the airport to see him off for his return flight back to Nigeria, he reached for his pocket where he brought out an envelope of crisp hundred-dollar bills. The amount in the envelope was 3,800 dollars. He said … this is the balance of the money I would have paid for the ‘Ford’ suit… Please use this balance for your Charity foundation to help those in actual need.

Similar anecdotes and experiences have become both common on social media and among the highlights of the current political season. The stories, diverse and some no doubt embellished, have all contributed to Obi’s appeal...

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