By Dr. Sam Amadi
There is no serious presidential candidate in the leading parties who has left office for two electoral circles and still popular and capable of winning the primary of his or her party apart from Peter Obi, Atiku Abubakar and Bola Tinubu.
Aspirants like Chibuike Amaechi, Yemi Osinbajo, Governors Wike, Umahi and others are being considered as likely candidates because they are in powerful political offices now.
The rest just finished political offices in the last four years. Osinbajo, who seems to be a shoo-in to the presidency would not even be capable of mounting a reasonable gubernatorial contest if he was not gratuitously made a Vice President.
Peter Obi is the most impressive. For more than 8 years he has been totally out of political office but still maintains a good hold on Nigeria’s public consciousness.
He has become the barometer to measure the malfunction of the Nigerian state and the oracle who points the way to reconstructing the macroeconomics of its survival.
He may not win the primaries (I think he will not because of the ‘crooked timber’ (apologies Isaiah Berlin) of politics). But he is the most exciting candidate amongst the nondescript lot.
Atiku is still a proposition because he has so much money and has been a perennial contestant for the presidency of Nigeria.
He does not excite and is not a barometer for the nation’s revival and survival, unlike Peter Obi.
He has the network and the bullish ambition to be president. That’s all. Same goes for Tiinubu.
Win or lose, we need to celebrate Peter Obi for showing us how a politician should survive outside political office: by being authentic and build a relevant brand.
Obi, even without being as ‘generous’ as other politicians, has maximized media resources and opportunities to brand himself as a transformative politician.
This is because he has an enthralling and relevant message. This is what many politicians fail to achieve when they leave office.
In this case, I regret the failure of my own favorite politician to achieve that immortality or long stay in the streets of political relevance. Obi achieved what others fail to achieve.
The reason for Obi’s success is authenticity and reinforcement. Obi left office as a frugal and firebrand enemy of the rentier state.
He has built on that legacy and reinforced it through coherent and consistent actions. That’s why he continues to define Nigerian politics, win or lose.