April 15, 2023 at 3:25 AM #10706SUCULTUREAdminLondon, United Kingdom
A new wave of
of The Obidients.
In the summer of 2020, there was a rise in the Black Lives Matter [BLM] movement in the United States [a decentralized political and social movement] which initially began as a campaign to combat police brutality towards African Americans.
Despite the protests subsiding, the fight against anti-blackness persisted and had an impact on the presidential elections. BLM transformed into a political powerhouse that played a pivotal role in the ousting of former President Donald Trump, whose support from white nationalists made him disregard demands for police reform.
During the same period as the BLM protests, young Nigerians thousands of miles away, took to the streets in major Nigerian cities to protest against corruption and extrajudicial killings committed by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian police force. The #EndSARS protests, had its epicentre in Nigeria’s megacity, Lagos, with the Lekki peninsula, and toll as its ground zero.
Despite the fact that the protests in Nigeria did not lead to the desired police reforms, the new generation of Nigerian millennials and Gen Z, known as the ‘Sóró Sóké’ generation [ a Yoruba expression for ‘Speak Up’] made it clear that they were a formidable force to be reckoned with – a catalyst reverberating beyond Nigeria, and spreading across the African continent. They demonstrated that if they could unite and work together, they had the power to overthrow the existing/old political order, dominated for a long period by a small group of ageing political class.
Disillusioned by the unrelenting levels of insecurity, unprecedented inflation rates, soaring unemployment figures, currency devaluation, and economic gloom, Nigerian youths [the country’s largest demographic voting bloc, constituting approximately 40% of the total of 93.4 million registered voters] leveraged social media to challenge the status quo and thrust Mr. Peter Gregory Obi [a former state governor serving two terms in the country’s eastern region, and current presidential candidate for Nigeria’s revolutionary Labour Party] into the eye of the political storm.
The events of 2020 set in motion a new desire, and attitude in the youth movement coined “the Obidients”; disrupting the political landscape in Nigeria, shaking up the comfortable monotonous status quo of the two main political parties, the All Progressives Party (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who enjoy an entrenched political infrastructure. As a result, for the first time in modern Nigerian history, a new third political force emerged from the depths of the social media space. Young people seeking a new figure to represent them, keyed into Peter Obi’s vision, altruism, message of accountability, governance, financial probity, and used him as a vehicle to propel change within the Nigerian political system.
Although without the political machinery available to the established political elite, the Obidient movement possess real organizational weight.
During the period leading up to the presidential elections Aisha Yesufu, the prominent activist whose symbolic image of a clenched fist became an iconic representation of the #EndSARS movement, threw her weight behind the Peter Obi candidacy, urging her over 1.8 million Twitter followers to recognize the significance of voting for Peter Obi’s bid for the presidency of Africa’s most populated country and largest economy.
Verbatim, on Twitter:
“A 100 billion naira [donation] is doable. Our little money when added together by many of us will lead to that sum. Let us not be afraid. Let me start with Nigerians in the Diaspora. If 1,000,000 Nigerians in Diaspora donate $100 that will be $100m or 60bn naira,”.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the author of “The Danger of a Single Story“, recently described Nigeria as “a symbolic crucible of Africa’s future, and a transparent election will rouse millions of other young Africans who are watching, and who long, too, for the substance and not the hollow form of democracy”.
Nigeria’s promise, as Africa’s hope, should therefore avoid home-grown enemies: and should instead consist of the political astuteness, ethics and competencies devoid of the selfish, mean-spirited and tension-prone chaos which emanated from the controversial gathering at the Berlin Conference of 1885 – which precipitated the “scramble for Africa”.
Disrupting the status-quo – A
Movements predominated by youths are often associated by a sense of a profound dissatisfaction with established norms and systems. The youth phase is typically marked by defiance and rebellion against traditional structures, fueled by a powerful idealism that seeks to enact positive societal change. When such movements evolve into a political force, particularly in the context of social life in Nigeria, their intensity becomes heightened, more intense and fervent.
In the 2023 elections we are seeing a break with the hegemony of the Nigerian political elite, revived by the interest in political participation, and a legacy of the Obidient movement.
The Nigerian millennial and Gen Z demographic, historically exhibiting a lack of political engagement, have now emerged from their state of quiescence; exhibiting a strong reluctance to accept a repeat of political failings.
The movement’s political phrase, “a new Nigeria is possible”, has served as a unifying slogan for the recently politically awakened Nigerian youths. It is not surprising therefore that the youths are primarily driven in the united focus aimed at contributing to the process of birthing a new Nigeria.
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