On December 13, 2022, the Labour Party’s (LP) Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) paid a visit to the Ibadan traditional council. In a viral video shared by Doyin Okupe, the Director-General of the Obi-Datti Campaign Organisation, a member of  the traditional council could be seen praying for Peter Obi. 

Okupe captioned the tweet, “Emphatic endorsement for Peter Obi from Ibadan traditional council.”

However, it appears the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Lekan Balogun, Alli Okunmade II, isn’t on the same page with Okupe.

How has the Oba reacted?

A statement released by the palace on December 14, 2022,  described the endorsement as a false and self-concocted one. The palace said the prayer shouldn’t have been twisted to appear as an endorsement of the candidate. The statement further cautioned politicians to leave the palace out of their power play and stick to facts. 

The palace said, “Let it be emphasised that Olubadan and his cabinet members don’t and can’t belong to any political party and they would never express preference for any candidate or political party in the public no matter the degree of temptation.”

What the palace basically told Obi and other politicians is, “You’re on your own (OYO)”.

Why’s this significant?

Endorsement power plays aren’t new in Nigerian politics. As we’ve explained before, politicians seek endorsements from powerful figures in the hopes they can help sway voters in their favour. We only need to go back to October. Then, the Afenifere backed both the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the LP presidential candidates.

The issue, though, is that it’s difficult to accurately measure the impact of endorsements. More significantly, publicly backing a candidate as a traditional ruler has its risks. If they win and turn out to be unpopular, the people can turn against the ruler in the grassroots for leading them astray.

If, on the other hand, a traditional ruler backs a losing horse, the winning horse won’t forget and might be vindictive. The safe bet is to stay in the middle and avoid staining your white as the Olubadan has done.

Endorsements may be useful for campaign PR, but politicians are better served appealing to voters directly. Because in the end, people will vote who they want — endorsement or not.


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