The 2023 presidential election was yesterday turning into a cyber war between leading supporters of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar and his Labour Party, rival, Peter Obi.
Meanwhile, All Progressive Congress, APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, still undecided on his running mate was yet to join the fray. In any case his options were further limited after Mr Obi picked former Senator Datti Baba-Ahmed from Kaduna State as his running mate.
The choice of Baba-Ahmed it was believed in political circles, could make Tinubu to again weigh the options before him on picking a running mate from the Northwest, the region with the country’s highest voting population.
Yesterday evening, the name of Mallam Nasir El-Rufai as a possible running mate was being thrown up again. The Kaduna State governor Saturday Vanguard gathered is being pushed by a very powerful figure in the Presidential Villa but Tinubu was said to be dilly-dallying on it, partly in consideration of the past eruptions by El-Rufai against him and partly by the solid support from his favourites in the Northeast.
The cyber war between Labour and PDP was launched by supporters of Obi, with a petition to twitter to ban Atiku’s associate, Reno Omokri from twitter. Omokri became a popular target for Obi’s supporters, mainly youths from across the country who identify themselves as OBIdient Nigerians, after he was accused of issuing a tweet aimed at inflaming ethnic war in the country.
Saturday Vanguard reports that as at 6.30 p.m. yesterday the petition launched in the morning and titled Ban Reno Omokri from Twitter had garnered more than 60,000 signatories with a goal of 75,000 signatures.
It had started with an initial goal of 15, 000 signatories that was met within hours
Saturday Vanguard reports that Reno Omokri who had in the past been known for his acerbic interventions against the APC and its candidate, Tinubu, had been accused of redirecting his guns towards Obi upon perceptions of the rising threats coming from the Labour candidate against Atiku.
Besides the increasingly expanding support base among youths in the country, Obi is believed to be entering the forthcoming campaign with a solid support from the Southeast states. That envisaged support is believed to be at the expense of Atiku and the PDP who had in the past easily carried the region.
Omokri, who served as an aide in the Goodluck Jonathan presidential villa was an early supporter of Atiku’s, well before the presidential primaries.
He had also severally reprimanded Obi’s supporters who he had in the past accused of being abusive towards anyone against their man.
The conflict got messier after Obi appeared on an Arise TV on Thursday where he responded to issues concerning the botched alliance between his Labour Party and Rabiu Kwankwaso’s New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP.
Omokri in responding to the interview had in a tweet on Thursday evening said:
If I were Kwankwaso, I would do a voiceover of Peter Obi Arise interview in Hausa. Let everyday people in Kano and the Northwest listen to him describe Kwankwaso and other Presidential candidates the way he did. Such hubris! You are a pilot. They are mere drivers?
However, Obi’s supporters saw it as call to battle describing it as incendiary with potentials of creating ethnic discord in the North. They were particularly furious that Omokri who is from Delta State but speaks Hausa fluently and lives in California had translated the tweet on Kwankwaso into Hausa.
On Friday morning, a petition asking Twitter to ban Omokri was trending on the social media platform and had as 6.00 p.m. yesterday generated signatories.