People in Nigeria are telling first-time voters who were upset when the candidate they supported and who came in third in the presidential race two weeks ago not to give up.
This is because, after a last-minute change, important state elections will be held later this month. Governors and local assemblies will be chosen at these elections.
State governments build schools, hospitals, and roads in the middle of cities. They are also in charge of transportation and other important services.
Some young people who were interested in politics and voted for Peter Obi of the Labour Party have lost interest because of what happened on Election Day.
For example, ballot boxes were stolen, there was violence, and election officials were late, which kept many people from voting. This could be one reason why only 27% of people showed up to vote.
But party worker Rinu Oduala says that Mr Obi’s supporters, who are called “Obidients,” shouldn’t give up hope.
“Change doesn’t happen all at once. It’s a step-by-step process. Day by day. And we’ve moved forward a thousand steps, “A supporter of the Labour Party sent a tweet.
Observer groups said that the election process didn’t meet the needed standards. The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Labour Party are now going to court to challenge the result.
But Obidients like Ms Oduala point out how much the Labour Party has done in the nine months since Mr Obi became their presidential candidate.
He got six million votes, which is 25% of the vote. This is a big deal, considering that the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) and PDP have had most of the votes since military rule ended in 1999.
The Labour Party also has seven of the 109 Senate seats and 35 of the 360 House of Representatives seats.
Some victories have given people who are members of the Labour Party hope that the people have the most power in a democracy.
In Abuja, the capital, a female Labour candidate beat a man who had been an MP for 20 years. In the northern state of Kaduna, a Labour motorbike driver was elected, and another Labour candidate stopped an outgoing governor from winning a senate seat in the south-east south.
In the run-up to the election, the Obidients were called “four people tweeting in a room,” which was meant as a joke. But now, other powerful politicians are trying to get them to vote for them.
Take senator Ovie Omo-Agege from the ruling party. He is running for governor in Delta state, which Mr Obi won with 55% of the vote for president.
The APC politician was seen awkwardly posing with a sign asking Obidians to vote for him, even though Labour has its own candidate for governor in the oil-rich southern state.
“We have so much in common, we need to get together and work together,” he pleaded.
Politicians like Mr Omo-Agege may be hoping to win them over because the charismatic Mr Obi has helped make the Labour Party popular, but his name won’t be on the ballots later this month.
The richest state has everything to play for
Lagos, Nigeria’s most powerful state and economic centre, could be where the Labour Party can change the political landscape.
The city is the centre of the Obidient movement. It grew out of the 2020 EndSars anti-police brutality protests when tens of thousands of mostly young Nigerians took to the streets for two weeks and forced the police unit to be disbanded.
Last month, Mr Obi beat the candidate for the ruling party in Lagos, even though there were many reports of election delays and violence.
Before this month’s vote, the current APC governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, is definitely feeling the heat. He is tweeting more often and telling his followerss long threads about what he has done in the office.
He wants a second term, but he won’t debate other candidates, like Labour’s Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, and his campaign has been boring. Instead, he went around the country with President-elect Bola Tinubu.
In the last four years, the governor has done a good job. He opened a metro line that had been under construction for decades and has been praised for how well he handled the pandemic.
But many people can’t forget what happened on October 20, 2020, when soldiers opened fire on EndSars protesters, killing at least nine of them.
Adeola Owosho, a tech products marketer who barely escaped death during the shooting, told the BBC, “They turned off the lights, took away the cameras, and killed us like antelopes.”
Even though Mr Sanwo-Olu was one of the few governors who met with the protesters (some of whom had camped out in front of his office in Lagos) and paid compensation to the victims of police abuse after setting up a panel, many people still find it hard to forgive him for the final deadly crackdown in Lekki.
“I will decide how to vote based on what happens on October 20, 2020. The massacre at Lekki and the rest of what happened left me with scars. Nothing Sanwo-Olu says about himself could ever make up for how badly he dealt with the peaceful protest “Mr Owosho said.
Victory in Lagos would help Obidients who were hurt by the loss for president, and Mr Obi has reminded his supporters that they can “still win big in the next elections.”
Voter cards were burned.
But his words might not mean much across the country because there aren’t many inspiring Labour Party candidates on the ballot and some people think the whole thing is pointless.
“I voted in the rain hoping that my vote would count, but it’s clear that it didn’t,” said Naya Benson in Abuja, where many voters stood for hours in 34C heat before an evening rainstorm drenched them on the day of the presidential election.
Others have gone to the extreme of destroying their voters’ cards (PVCs) and swearing never to vote again.
“I burned my PVC because I realised it was a waste of my time,” one voter told the BBC. He was upset that he had to spend time and money on transportation to get his card and vote.
He said that the fact that the Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec) wasn’t able to upload results to its portal in real-time as promised was a sign that the results might not be real.
Inec apologised for the delays and said that technical problems were caused by a rush of customers on that day.
But these problems didn’t just upset young voters. They also upset voters of all ages. Parents of Umealor Chibuike who have been voting for 27 years thought this was the last straw.
He told the BBC, “They broke their PVCs because they think Nigeria will never get better no matter what.”
But Ms Oduala of the Labour Party thinks this is the wrong way to fix a country as complicated as Nigeria. It is the most populous country in Africa, with about 210 million people, half of whom are under 18 years old.
“We will get rid of the bad politicians who are blocking progress and take our country back. Believe me, we are winning, “she tells the people she leads. “It’s a journey, not a trip; a marathon, not a sprint; a war, not a battle.”