The Labour Party candidate electrifying young Nigerians
A wealthy businessman with a reputation for being frugal, Peter Obi has emerged as a powerful force ahead of Nigeria’s presidential election next February, energising voters with messages of prudence and accountability that are amplified by an army of social media users.
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In a country that seems to always be on the lookout for a messiah to solve its myriad problems, young social media-savvy supporters have elevated Mr Obi to sainthood and are backing his largely unknown Labour Party against two septuagenarian political heavyweights.
His name is often trending on social media on the back of numerous conversations sparked by his supporters, instantly recognisable from their display picture of his image or the white, red and green logo of his party.
These are mostly urban under-30s who refer to themselves as the “Coconut-head generation”, because they are strong-willed, independent-minded and contemptuous of older politicians who, they say, have done little for them.
Many of them, like Dayo Ekundayo from the eastern city of Owerri, were involved in the EndSars protests that forced the disbandment of a notorious police department two years ago and also morphed into calls for better government.
Now, they are deploying the same strategies that mobilized hundreds of thousands of young Nigerians and raised millions of naira within weeks for the 60-year-old who they consider an alternative to the two parties that have dominated politics since the end of military rule in 1999.
“Which Nigerian politician has ever held office and has his integrity intact? I do not see any other logical option for young people in Nigeria,” said Mr Ekundayo.
He has already been involved in a march for Mr Obi, and is providing logistics and mobilising students for the campaign as he did during the EndSars protests.