Our Democracy Is The Victim Our Democracy Is The Victim
Being text of a speech by the Presidential Candidate of the Labour Party of Nigeria, Mr Peter Obi at a Press  Conference on Nigeria’s... Our Democracy Is The Victim

Being text of a speech by the Presidential Candidate of the Labour Party of Nigeria, Mr Peter Obi at a Press  Conference on Nigeria’s Supreme Court’s Judgment of 26th October, 2023  On the 2023 Nigeria Presidential Election Held in Abuja, FCT, on [Monday 6th November, 2023]



1. Fellow countrymen and women. Gentlemen of the Media, Good day and welcome to this press conference. Kindly permit me to make some brief remarks on the recent ruling of the Supreme Court, the highest court in Nigeria.

2. About a fortnight ago, I was traveling abroad on a prior scheduled engagement when I received the notice that the Supreme Court would give judgment on Thursday 26th October 2023 on our challenge of the ruling   of   the   Presidential   Election   Petitions   Court   (PEPC).   That judgment has since been delivered as scheduled. The leadership of the Labour Party has already pronounced its position on the judgment.

3. 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. Because we are confronted with   very   weighty   issues   of   national   interest,   I   will   speak forthrightly.   As   students   young   lads   at   CKC,   Onitsha,   we   were taught values and admonished to always;  “choose the harder right, instead of the easier wrong.”

4. 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 to be treated   with   levity.   More   appalling,   the   Supreme   Court   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.

5. Without equivocation, this judgment amounts to a total breach of the confidence the Nigerian people 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 Constitution derives. This Supreme Court ruling may represent the state of the law in 2023 but not the present demand for substantive  justice.  The   judgment   mixed   principles   and   precepts. Indeed, the rationale and premise of the Supreme Court judgment, have become clearer in the light of the deep revealing and troubling valedictory  remarks by Hon.   Justice   Musa   Dattijo   Muhammad, (JSC) on Friday 27th October 2023.

6. In disagreeing very strongly with the ruling of both the Presidential Petitions Court (PEPC) and the Supreme Court on the outcome of the 25th February 2023 Presidential election as declared by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), as democrats who believe in the rule of law, we recognize that the Supreme Court is the end stage of the quest for legal closure to the matter. As a party and as candidates, Datti and I have now exhausted all legal and constitutional remedies available to us. However, this end is only another beginning in our quest for the vindication of the hope of the common man for a better country. After all, sovereignty belongs to the people! If only for historical purposes, it behooves us to place our disagreement with and deep reservations about this judgment on public record.

7.  We have long been aware of  how weak national institutions have negatively   affected   our   democracy.   This   year   2023   has   been   quite remarkable and revealing.  INEC has displayed incompetence in the conduct   of   its   statutory   duty.   The   judiciary   has   largely   acted   in defiance of constitutional tenets, precedents, and established ground rules.   Political expediency has   preceded   judicial   responsibility.  A mechanical application of technicalities has superseded the pursuit of justice and fairness. Both INEC and the Supreme Court as the referees, respectively shifted the goalposts in the middle of the game.

8. Where the value and import of the recent Supreme Court ruling ends   is   where   our   commitment   to   a   New   Nigeria   begins.   Our mission and mandate remain unchanged. From the very onset, our mission has been more about enthroning a new Nigeria. It is a new nation where things work, where the country is led from its present waste and consumption orientation to a production-driven economy. Our   commitment   is   to   a   nation   anchored   on   the   principles   of prudent management  of  resources to   quickly pull  millions  out of multidimensional   poverty,   ensuring   transparency   and accountability   in   the   equitable   distribution   of   opportunities, resources, and privileges. In the new Nigeria, we aim to address all unmet needs by showing compassion for all those left behind by the present system.

9.   Going   forward,   we   in   the   Labour   Party   and   the   Obidient Movement are now effectively in opposition. We are glad that the nation   has   heard   us   loud   and clear.   We   shall   now   expand   the confines of our message of hope to the rest of the country. We shall meet the people in the places where they feel pain and answer their needs  for hope. At marketplaces,  motor parks, town halls, board rooms,   and   university   and   college   campuses,   we   all   carry   and deliver the message of a new Nigeria. As stake holders and elected Labour Party officials, we shall remain loyal to our manifesto.We will continue to canvas for good governance and focus on issues that promote national interest, unity, and cohesion. We will continue to   give   primacy   to   our   Constitution,   the   rule   of   law,   and   the protection   of   ordered   liberties.   We   will   offer   the   checks   and balances   required   in   a   functional   democracy   and   vie   robustly   in forthcoming elections to elect those who share our vision of a new Nigeria.

10. Given our present national circumstances, there is a compelling need for   a   strong   political   opposition.   We   shall,   therefore,   remain   in opposition,   especially   because   of   the   policies   and   the   governance modalities   that   we   in   the   Labour   Party   campaigned   for,   especially reducing the cost of governance, moving the nation from consumption to production, reducing inflation, ending insecurity, promoting the rule of law,   guaranteeing   the   responsibility   to   protect,   and   stabilizing   the Nigerian   currency;   are   clearly   not   the   priorities   of   the   present administration nor is it interested in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

11. If there is one thing that has immensely gladdened my heart in the course of the struggle of the past 18 months, it is the passionate desire of our people, especially our young people from across ethnic and religious divides, to construct a new and restructured Nigeria that will work for all Nigerians. That goal remains my guiding light and abiding inspiration.

12. Finally, I thank all Nigerians who believed in what is now only a revolution postponed. We deeply appreciate the unalloyed non-partisan moral support millions of youth and ordinary Nigerians across ethnic, religious, and geopolitical divides have continued to give to Dr. Datti Baba-Ahmed and me.

13.   We   extend   our   heartfelt   gratitude   to   the   Nigerians   who   have supported this mission  from the onset.   We salute the leadership and members of the Labour Party, the Obidient Movement, the Obi-Datti Presidential   Campaign   Council,   Nigerians   in   the   Diaspora,   Support Groups, and all people of goodwill who worked diligently and hoped for the realization of the beginnings of a New Nigeria in this election cycle.

14. 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 Obedient 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, persist, until we get to our destination because a new Nigeria is our destination. A destination not an event.

15. We thank, in a special way, our legal team. We also thank our elder States-Men, whose wise counsel were immeasurable  To them, we wish to   state   unequivocally   that   this   judicial   outcome   –   an   obvious misrepresentation of substantial justice – has by no means foreclosed the realization of a new Nigeria that is Possible.

16. On a personal note, I take personal pride and express gratitude to those who share our vision; and who have also exhibited rare courage to challenge the nefarious system, the genuineness of individuals’ identities and  their  defining  and  qualifying  particulars  up  to  the  highest  extent allowed by law. Nigeria holds out hope of infinite possibilities leading to our   desirable   greatness.   I   remain   consistent   in   my   belief   in   the possibility of a new Nigeria built on character competence, capacity, compassion, integrity, and respect for the rule of law based on justice and fairness.

17. God bless us all. God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.


Mr. Peter Gregory Obi, CON Presidential Candidate of Labour Party.

Obi –Datti Campaign Organization Office Abuja, FCT.Monday 6th November 2023.