Peter Gregory Onwubuasi Obi CON (Listen, born 19 July 1961) is a Nigerian politician and businessman who served as governor of Anambra from March to November 2006, February to May 2007, and June 2007 to March 2014. In May 2022, he became the Labour Party candidate for President of Nigeria in the 2023 presidential election, after defecting from the Peoples Democratic Party.[1][2][3][4]

Peter Obi
Obi in 2022
Governor of Anambra State
In office
14 June 2007 – 17 March 2014
Preceded byAndy Uba
Succeeded byWillie Obiano
In office
9 February 2007 – 29 May 2007
Preceded byVirginia Etiaba
Succeeded byAndy Uba
In office
17 March 2006 – 2 November 2006
Preceded byChris Ngige
Succeeded byVirginia Etiaba
Personal details
Born
Peter Gregory Obi

(1961-07-19) 19 July 1961 (age 62)
Onitsha, Eastern Region, Nigeria (now in Anambra State, Nigeria)
Political partyLabour Party (since 2022)
Other political
affiliations
All Progressives Grand Alliance (2002–2014)
People's Democratic Party (before 2002; 2014–2022)
Spouse
Margaret Brownson Obi (née Usen)
(m. 1992)
Children2
Alma mater
Occupation
  • Politician
  • businessman
  • banker

Born in Onitsha in 1961, Obi graduated from the University of Nigeria in 1984. Afterwards, he entered business and banking, eventually holding several executive positions in several banks. Obi contested for governor in 2003 as a member of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, but Chris Ngige was declared winner of the election.[5] In 2006, the election of Chris Ngige was nullified and Obi was declared winner of the 2003 election, and he assumed office in March 2006. Shortly, he was impeached in November the same year by the Anambra State House of Assembly, led by Hon. Mike Balonwu. However, his impeachment was overturned and he returned to office in February 2007. Obi was removed after the 2007 Anambra State gubernatorial election, but the judiciary again intervened by ruling that he should be allowed to complete a full four-year term. In 2010, he was re-elected to a second term.[6][7]

After leaving office in the year 2014, Obi decamped to the Peoples Democratic Party.[8][9][10] In 2019, he was selected as the PDP vice presidential nominee in the presidential election, running alongside Atiku Abubakar, but they lost to the incumbent president Muhammadu Buhari and vice president Yemi Osinbajo.[11][12][13][14][15] In 2022, Obi ran for president himself, first in the PDP until defecting to the Labour Party in May 2022 to obtain its nomination. Obi's presidential campaign has been described as populist and performed well among youth, who have been nicknamed "Obidients".[16][17][18][19] In the general election, he lost to Bola Tinubu.

The Labour Party, along with several other opposition parties, sued to overturn Tinubu's victory, alleging voting irregularities. Their arguments were rejected in court.[20]

Early life and education edit

Peter Obi was born on 19 July 1961 in Onitsha, Anambra State, in a devout Christian family.[21][22] He attended Christ the King College, Onitsha, where he completed his secondary school education. He was admitted to the University of Nigeria, in 1980 and graduated with a B.A. (Hons) in Philosophy in 1984.[23]

Business career edit

Obi was a businessman before he ventured into politics. He held leadership positions in some private establishments.[22]

Some of the companies he served include Next International Nigeria Ltd, Chairman and Director of Guardian Express Mortgage Bank Ltd, Guardian Express Bank Plc, Future View Securities Ltd, Paymaster Nigeria Ltd, Chams Nigeria Ltd, Data Corp Ltd and Card Centre Ltd. He was the youngest chairman of Fidelity Bank Plc.[24][25]

Gubernatorial tenure and vice presidential candidacy edit

First term edit

Obi contested in the Anambra State Governorship election as a candidate for the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) party in 2003; but his opponent, Chris Ngige of the People's Democratic Party, was declared the winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).[26]

After nearly three years of litigation, Ngige's victory was overturned by the Court of Appeal on 15 March 2006. Obi took office on 17 March 2006. On 2 November 2006, he was impeached by the Anambra State House of Assembly, led by Mike Balonwu, after seven months in office and was replaced the next day by Virginia Etiaba, his deputy, making her the first-ever female governor in Nigeria.[27][28] Obi successfully challenged his impeachment and was re-instated as the governor on 9 February 2007 by the Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu. Etiaba handed power back to him after the court ruling.[29][30]

Obi once again left office on 29 May 2007 following the General Elections, in which Andy Uba was declared the winner by the electoral body. Obi returned to the courts once more, this time contending that the four-year tenure he had won in the 2003 election only started to run when he took office in March 2006. On 14 June 2007 the Supreme Court of Nigeria upheld Obi's contention and returned Obi to office. This brought to an abrupt end the tenure of Obi's successor, Andy Uba, whose 14 April 2007 election the Supreme Court nullified on the grounds that Obi's four-year tenure should have remained undisturbed until March 2010.[31]

Second term edit

On 7 February 2010, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Obi the winner of the 2010 Anambra State Gubernatorial election. He defeated Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, former governor, CBN. This election victory gave Obi an additional four years as the governor.[32][33]

On 17 March 2014, Obi's term ended and Willie Obiano assumed office.[34] After leaving office in 2014, Obi gained new status as an advocate for good governance and national political figure after decamping to the Peoples Democratic Party in 2014.[8][9][10]

After the 2015 General Election, President Goodluck Jonathan appointed Obi as the chairman of the Nigerian Security and Exchange Commission (SEC).[35][36][37]

2019 presidential elections edit

On 12 October 2018, Obi was named as the running mate to Atiku Abubakar, the Peoples Democratic Party's Presidential Candidate in the 2019 presidential election. Obi opposed proposals for a standardized national minimum wage, arguing that different states should have different minimum wages.[38] The Abubakar/Obi ticket came second.[39]

Presidential candidacy edit

On 24 March 2022, declared his intention to run for President of Nigeria under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, but later pulled out and announced he would be running under the Labour Party platform instead.[40][41] According to the Peoples Gazette, Peter Obi wrote to the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party on 24 May to resign his membership.[42] Obi reportedly complained of massive bribing of delegates and vote buying at party's presidential primary, citing the existence of a party clique collaborating against him.[43]

Obi's business background and status as a major candidate unaffiliated with either of Nigeria's two main parties has drawn comparisons with Emmanuel Macron's successful 2017 French presidential candidacy.[44][45][46][47] Obi has expressed admiration for Macron and was among the officials who received Macron during his visit to Lagos.[48]

Obidient movement edit

People under 30 proved to be some of the biggest Obi's supporters, showing their support via social media and protests and street marches.[49] Aisha Yesufu, a prominent activist noted as the cofounder of the #BringBackOurGirls movement and a supporter of the End SARS campaign, endorsed Obi in her first-ever endorsement of a presidential candidate.[50]

Young supporters of Obi's campaign have been nicknamed "Obidients".[18][19] In a Business Day opinion article, Chikwurah Isiguzo argued that:[51]

"[The Obidients] are attracted by Peter Obi's ideology of frugality, economic production rather than the ostentatious consumerism and waste, and resourceful management and investment in key sectors, for economic growth and development."

Commentators have argued that Obi's third party candidacy appeals to young voters dissatisfied with the two major parties, which has resulted in the "biggest political movement in recent Nigerian history."[52] With his core message of prudence and accountability, Obi has managed to gain the backing of voters for his previously largely unknown Labour Party into a strong third force against two political heavyweights.[53] Before campaigns were officially kicked off, Obi's supporters held a series of One Million Man Marches in several Nigerian cities including Makurdi, Calabar, Lafia, Port Harcourt, Afikpo, Owerri, Enugu, Auchi, Abuja, Kano, Ilorin, Abakaliki and Ibadan. The marches were not part of the official campaigns; as they were led by volunteer Obi supporters and not Obi's in-house team or political party. The marches experienced massive turnouts.[54][55][56][57]

Obiageli Ezekwesili, a former Minister of Education in Nigeria, stated that Nigerian women are more inclined toward the potential presidency of Obi[clarification needed] in an interview with Channels TV.[58]

Selection of running mate edit

Physician Doyin Okupe initially was the temporary running mate of Obi until a substantive candidate could be selected.[59] In the run-up to the final selection of a running mate, media outlets reported that there was an effort to have former Senator Shehu Sani of Kaduna State serve as Obi's running mate.[60]

On 8 July 2022, Obi unveiled his running mate, Senator for Kaduna North Senatorial District Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed. Speaking on his choice of the vice presidential candidate, he stated:

This is our right to secure, unite and make Nigeria productive. And you can't do that without having people who have similar visions, ideas and are prepared for the task. So, I have the honour today to present to you, God willing, Nigeria's next vice president in the person of Senator Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed.[61]

Election results edit

The results were announced on 1 March 2023. Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress party, was named the president-elect with 8.79 million votes. Obi received 6.1 million votes, and won in both Lagos and Abuja.[62] This put Obi in third place behind winner Bola Tinubu and People's Democratic Party nominee Atiku Abubakar. Due to the elections being rife with several allegations, reports and evidence of voter manipulation, disenfranchisement and rigging,[63] Obi announced that he would challenge the election results, stating that, "We won the election and we will prove it to Nigerians".[64][65]

Political positions edit

National security edit

As a candidate, Obi has publicly demanded that the federal government name individuals responsible for financing terrorism and oil theft in Nigeria.[66] In 2020, Obi expressed support for the End SARS social movement against police brutality.[67]

Women's issues edit

Obi has stated that he believes women are less prone to corruption in public office than men, and states that his gubernatorial staff were predominantly women.[68] Obi has said he wants to do away with the Office of the First Lady of Nigeria, stating “It was not my wife that was voted in but himself. The Ministry of Women Affairs was enough to take good care of women.”[69] In commemoration of International African Women's Day, Obi stated: "In Nigeria, we advocate continually greater women participation in leadership, nation-building and society, which begins with unfettered social inclusion, gender mainstreaming and empowerment."[70]

Controversy edit

On 1 April 2023, Peoples Gazette published leaked phone conservation between Obi and one of the leaders of Nigeria's biggest Pentecostal Church, Bishop David Oyedepo of the Living Faith Church Worldwide, also known as Winners Chapel. In the leaked phone call, which took place a few days before the Nigerian presidential election, Obi declared that the election was a religious war and solicited the support of the bishop to reach out to Christians across the Southwestern part of Nigeria and those in the Northcentral states like Kwara, Kogi and Niger.[71][72]

The report generated widespread controversy across the country, with some members of his campaign organisation confirming the authenticity of the phone call and defending his position, while other members declared the phone record as a deep fake.[73][74]

On 5 April 2023, Obi tweeted that the published phone call was fake and threatened to take legal action against the newspaper.[75]

On 1 May 2023, Obi appeared in an interview on Arise TV in Abuja. During the interview, he was repeatedly asked if the audio was fake or authentic, and he repeatedly responded that he was not a tribal or religious bigot. He declined to state that the conversation did not take place. Instead, he emphasised that it was normal for him and other politicians to solicit support from religious leaders during elections.[76]

Awards and honours edit

These are some of Obi's awards:[77]

Pandora Papers edit

As a result of the Pandora Papers leaks, the Premium Times reported on Obi's involvement in offshore companies in tax havens such as the British Virgin Islands and Barbados.[88] Obi appeared to have made shell companies in the 1990s with the Barbados-based Beauchamp Investments Limited and UK-based Next International (UK) Limited being tied back to Obi and his family.[89] This was before he held any political office in Nigeria. Further reporting showed that in 2010 as well, Obi had Access International help him set up and manage Gabriella Investments Limited, a company in the British Virgin Islands named after Obi's daughter. One of the directors was also the director of a Belize-based shell company that was issued 50,000 shares in Gabriella Investments. In 2017, Obi reorganized the company under the name PMGG Investments Limited and created a trust named The Gabriella Settlement, which became the sole shareholder in PMGG Investments Limited. Obi was not holding any political position at this time.

A Premium Times report claimed that Obi remained as director of Next International (UK) Limited while serving as Governor of Anambra State, which is in direct violation of Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act. In an interview with Arise News, Obi clarified that he resigned from all companies before taking office as Governor of Anambra State.[90]

The report also claimed that Obi's non-declaration of his offshore companies broke the Nigerian Constitution's provision that require public officers to declare all their properties, assets, and liabilities.[89] Obi stated that he did not break any laws and clarified that the accounts' money was accrued from his time as a businessman. The EFCC invited him for questioning in October 2021, after President Buhari directed all anti-corruption agencies to investigate those named in the leaks.[91][92][93]

Personal life edit

Obi is a practicing Catholic.[21][94] He married Margaret Brownson Obi (née Usen) in 1992 and they have two children.[95][96]

See also edit

References edit

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Party political offices
New political party APGA nominee for Governor of Anambra State
2003
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Virginia Etiaba
APGA nominee for Governor of Anambra State
2010
Succeeded by
Preceded by PDP nominee for Vice President of Nigeria
2019
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Muhammed Usman Zaki
LP nominee for President of Nigeria
2023
Most recent
Political offices
Preceded by Governor of Anambra State
2006
Succeeded by
Virginia Etiaba
Preceded by
Virginia Etiaba
Governor of Anambra State
2007
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Andy Uba
Governor of Anambra State
2007–2014
Succeeded by
Willie Obiano