Peter Obi: Billionaire Using Ruto's Tactics in Nigeria Presidential Race
Peter Obi, a wealthy businessman, is one of the leading candidate in the Nigerian Presidential Election.
The businessman, vying on Labour Party ticket, employed similar tactics which President William Ruto used to win the August 8, 2022 Presidential Election, trouncing Azimio flagbearer Raila Odinga.
According to pundits, Obi’s presidential ambition was elevated by young social media supporters to take on political heavyweights in the polls scheduled for Saturday, February 25.
Social Media Trends
File photo of Nigerian political leader Peter Obi during a past interview.
The wealthy businessman capitalised on an army of social media users to popularise his presidential bid, which worked for Ruto.
Reports indicated that Ruto adopted a social media strategy backed by influencers to counter his opponents. This was evident through his manifesto launch, where he trended for almost a full day.
Digital strategist, Dennis Itumbi, also crafted communication plans and mock debates where Ruto and his deputy, Rigathi Gachagua, were prepped to handle the media and the public.
A similar strategy was employed by Obi, who thrived on social media, sparking conversations via hashtags.
Riding on Young Voters Support
Obi’s campaign strategy resonated with young voters from urban areas referred to as Coconut head generation. These youthful voters argued they were strong-willed and independent, creating a different path from old political strategies.
Ruto used Hustler and Kazi Kazi tags to win support from the young voters battling unemployment. He also used the tags to promise them jobs and business opportunities, including launching the Hustler Fund.
‘Let’s Get Our Country Back’ was used by both leaders to appeal to the electorates. During campaigns, Ruto established his niche by claiming that Raila was part of the dynasty and power brokers labelled ‘The System’.
Dennis Itumbi (centre)sharing a light moment with President William Ruto (right) and his Deputy Rigathi Gachagua (left) during a thanksgiving prayer service held in Kirinyaga on January 22, 2022.
The self-proclaimed resucer, called himself the Chief Hustler, a tag that resonated well with the masses.
Obi used a similar strategy to appeal to young electorates. He was also involved in protests and mobilising students across Nigeria.
Both leaders changed parties before polls. Ruto ditched Jubilee and adopted the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) under the Kenya Kwanza coalition, which propelled him to win Presidency after ditching Jubilee.
Obi dumped the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) few days before its presidential primary in May 2022. The party chose the 75-year-old former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar as its presidential flagbearer.
Mobilising Church Leaders
A devout Catholic from eastern Nigeria and his running-mate Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed had strong winds in sections of Nigeria dominated by religious leaders.
Obi became a constant face at large auditoriums of Nigeria’s Pentecostal churches, winning their support. Although he was accused of hypocrisy, the wealthy businessman stuck by his strategy to take on his opponents.
Ruto also used various church leaders to popularise his presidential bid.
His tenure as Anambra state governor also fuelled his bid. His supporters pointed out that he had invested in education and better working conditions.
In 2021, he was named in the Pandora Papers, which also roped in Kenya’s Kenyatta’s family. He, however refused to reveal his networth, after the Pandora Papers accused those mentioned of stashing wealth abroad.
“I am a very successful businessman. I have been a trader, and I was successful. I have served in corporations, several boards, and I can name them.
“I have also been a governor. In all these, I have operated as transparent and as efficiently as possible, and I can explain and answer for whatever I am mentioned in,” he stated in a previous interview.
File photo of Nigerian political leader Peter Obi during a past political gathering.