Sam Omatseye, chairman of The Nation Newspaper’s editorial board, has alleged threat to life after describing Peter Obi, presidential candidate of the Labour Party as “Obi-tuary” in a article published on Monday.
Omatseye had come under intense criticism from Nigerians over the article targeted at Mr. Obi, an opponent of his principal, Bola Ahmed Tinubu for the 2023 presidential election.
Omatseye in the article titled “Obi-tuary,” which many described an ethnic dog whistle,’ tried to link the Labour Party presidential candidate to the agitation of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), even though the separatist group has continuously distanced itself from his presidential ambition.
In the article, published on the back page of Monday, August 1 edition of The Nation, a platform published by Vintage Press Limited, owned by Bola Tinubu, Omatseye argued without evidence, that those agitation for Biafra have gone quiet because they are now supporting Mr. Obi.
He wrote, “The Biafran babblers are alive and well. They just swapped icons, rechristened the shrines and rewrote the rites. They left the prophet for a secular priest. They have had a switch of battle gear.
“Maybe it is not quiet. We can hear and feel the cacophony. The chants and caterwauling are everywhere, especially on the phones. The twitter bees, the Instagram grimes, the Facebook freaks. They are alive and well, but they have not been at war at the side of their icon, who is griping in detention.
“It’s farewell Kanu. Welcome Obi, at least until the new priest peters out. They are at his worship. They embrace it because it does not, for the first time in years, feel like they are outside the mainstream. They are not falling foul of the law, not howling from the fringes. They have Peter Obi as their man. He is mainstream. He belongs, not to the MASSOB, or Kanu’s assembly called IPOB. They can say they have a legitimate tribe and rhetoric. They may pretend to love Nigeria. They may claim to embrace INEC, cling to a political party no one in the police or DSS will harangue.”
Omatseye went on to write, “Obi has turned out to be an excuse for even closet Biafrans to betray open emotions about Biafra without being accused of it… It is like wearing a colour beneath another colour. Obi has become a shelter for both miscreants and activists of the crowd.”
The article attracted angry responses from Nigerians on social media, with many accusing him of ethnic baiting.
Amid the outrage, Omatseye took to his twitter account to allege that Obi’s supporters were threatening him, while vowing to hold the Labour Party candidate if anything happens to him.
“Mr. Peter Obi, call you supporters to order. They are calling and issuing death threats. If anything happens to me, you will be held responsible!!!!,” he wrote.
He did not, however, provide any evidence of the threat, and many have also accused him of raising false alarm in order to present Obi’s supporters as being violent.
“Sounding like fairly used Reno omokri. Same script. Call innocent millions of people terrorists, cry about imaginary death threat and “hold Peter Obi responsible,” wrote Blessed, @Girl_isBlessed. “You committed career suicide at 60s. Congratulations on your journey to irrelevance.”
Another user, Samson Gomina, @dangabna, ‘This is the same play, write something stupid and daft, when you are called out allege your life is been threatened. Segafraud, Reno and now Shameless Sam Omatseye same classic trick nobody is interested in your deaths. The thing you support will consume you.”
On his part, Bamiyo, @fribone, said “Like clockwork the accusations pop out. Man’s written some shit & the people whose lives he’s threatened by his pen reacts to defend their own hope & suddenly man’s a victim. Ewure Uzbekistan ní e, agbalagba tò lack common sense. You don’t deserve our time.”