Peter Obi hints at re-contesting in 2027

Just Eleven days after the Supreme Court pronouncement on the February 25 presidential poll, which validated the victory of President Bola Tinubu, presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, yesterday broke his silence, expressing disappointment that the apex court judgment dashed the hopes of a majority of Nigerians by sacrificing justice for political expediency.

Speaking at a press conference in Abuja, the LP standard bearer, however, said as democrats, after exhausting all legal means to challenge the 2023 general elections, the party is now ready to take the message of a new Nigeria to the grassroots, signaling that he will contest the 2027 presidential election.

He further canvassed a single five-year term for Nigeria’s presidency for each of the geo-political zones with a 30-year rotation system. This is against the norm of a two-term tenure of four years each patterned after the United States democracy.

Obi said the proposal formed part of his campaign during the electioneering period, adding that he would have moved for the amendment of the Constitution to allow the President to stay only five years in office.

“We campaigned on the issue of restructuring and reform and that would have included an amendment to make this Constitution a workable and functional one that would be productive for Nigerians. Included in that would have been the issue of single tenure. I would go for a five-year tenure, which would go for 30 years rotational presidency across the six geo-political regions.”

His proposal comes in response to a similar briefing by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the same election, Atiku Abubakar, who suggested a constitutional amendment to establish a six-year single term for the president.

The 62-year-old further proposed the implementation of a quasi-system that would enable leaders in office to simultaneously participate in the legislature. In addition, he said a mechanism for leaders to be answerable to the public through regular question-and-answer sessions should be established.

“And I will still campaign for one thing, if we cannot go back to the issue of parliamentary democracy, we must have a quasi-system that will allow our elected leaders, whether prime minister or president, to be able to be part of the legislature, especially to answer questions.

“Maybe a presidential question or prime minister question, instead of hiring surrogates. We want to hear from the people we elected now and that is critical. We cannot continue with this way where we are now, where people have outsourced leadership,” he said.

Specifically on the Supreme Court judgment, Obi said: “As someone who has previously benefited from the rulings of the Supreme Court on electoral matters, I have, after a period of deep and sober reflection, decided to personally and formally react to the recent judgment as most Nigerians have.

“Without equivocation, this judgment amounts to a breach of confidence Nigerians have in our judiciary. To that extent, it is a show of unreasonable force against the very Nigerian people from whom the power of the Nigerian citizens is drawn.

“Setting legal issues aside, the Supreme Court exhibited a disturbing aversion to public opinion just as it abandoned its responsibility as a court of law and policy. It is, therefore, with great dismay that I observe that the court’s decision contradicts the overwhelming evidence of election rigging, false claim of a technical glitch, substantial non-compliance with rules set by INEC itself as well as matters of perjury, identity theft, and forgery that have been brought to light in the course of this election matter. These were hefty allegations that should not be treated with levity.

“More appalling, the judgment willfully condoned breaches of the Constitution relative to established qualifications and parameters for candidates in presidential elections. With this counter-intuitive judgment, the Supreme Court has transferred a heavy moral burden from the courtrooms to our national conscience. Our young democracy is ultimately the main victim and casualty of the courtroom drama.”

However, not giving up, Obi stated that the journey has just begun. “Nigerians who supported our cause have done so out of patriotism and their sincere conviction that our nation requires and deserves dedicated and visionary leaders who will lead Nigeria toward a brighter future.

The energy and dedication of Nigerian youths and the ‘Obidient’ movement have been simply amazing.

“I appreciate and salute them! I want to assure them that this is not the end of our journey; but in fact, the beginning. Nigeria heard you. The world has taken note and will not forget so easily. We shall endure and persist until we get to our destination because a new Nigeria is our destination; a destination not an event,” Obi said, signaling his readiness to run for the office of the President in 2027.

IN a swift reaction, the Presidency told Obi that no court in the country gives judgment based on public opinion. The Presidency also said that having admitted that the Supreme Court ruling brought an end to litigation and any challenge to the victory of President Tinubu, Obi should have congratulated the President and pledged his support, in the spirit of statesmanship.

The Presidency in a statement by Bayo Onanuga, Special Adviser to the President on Information & Strategy, said it welcomed the pledge by Obi and his party to play the role of the opposition and urged him to start preparing for another shot at the presidency in 2027.

The statement titled: ‘Peter Obi should find better vocation instead of casting aspersions on the judiciary,’ read: “We are at a loss as to how the copycat Obi and his faction of the Labour Party convinced themselves they won an election in which they came a distant third.

“The grand delusion that made Obi believe he could have won a national election where he ran the most hateful, divisive and polarising campaign that pitched Christians against Muslims and one ethnic group against the other in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society like Nigeria should be a matter for deeper examination.

“At the press conference where he tried, in vain, to gaslight Nigerians with false claims and innuendos, Obi contradicted himself. Here was a beneficiary of judicial pronouncements in the past now castigating the same court because its judgment did not go his way.

“Obi claimed the Supreme Court justices didn’t consider public opinion in delivering what has been applauded as a most profound judgment in an election appeal where the LP candidate presented the most watery and unreasonable petition before any court in the history of electoral cases in Nigeria.

He made false allegations of rigging and other electoral malpractices yet could not produce any evidence to back up his claims at both the court of first instance and at the apex court. In a failed effort to mobilise and retain the support of his supporters, Obi gave them a forlorn hope that he won the election and would prove it before the courts. Throughout the trial, his lawyers didn’t present any alternative results different from the results INEC uploaded on the IReV portal and the ones signed by all party agents from the 176,000 polling units.

“We wonder how he expected the courts to do justice on the basis of rumours, lies and false narratives by sponsored partisans and fanatical members of his Obidient Movement.

“We expected the LP candidate to know that the Supreme Court or any other court does not give judgment based on public opinion and mob sentiments. Judicial pronouncements are based on evidence, precedents and the rule of law.

“Our admonition to Obi is to find another worthwhile vocation to engage his time henceforth, having been rejected by the majority of Nigerians who didn’t consider him qualified to lead our country.”