Saturday 14th April 2007 goes down the history as one of the most memorable days in Nigeria’s democratic struggle. It was the day that Nigerians from all walks of life demonstrated consummate ingenuity and integrity with their inalienable power of enfranchisement by voting candidates of their choices to occupy various elective offices available to be filled in the course of the election. Prejudice, subjectivity, parochialism, insensitivity, inanity and other acts of ignorance were flung into lumber-room and they went out en masse to positively cast their vote with their SIXTH-SENSE. Of course, they were tired of the poverty, venality, debauchery, hopelessness, incompetence, lawlessness, despondency, depravity and other countless symptoms of misery that have been inseparably concomitant with PDP leadership for the past eight years, and therefore, they decided to take their destinies into their hands by voting for a positive change.
Some Nigerians who will not ordinarily go out to vote were compelled to do on this very day not just because they had to, but the sleazy discomfort, squalor, torment, agony were enough impetus to drive them out of their homes to exercise their rights. There is a rhetoric that would have pervaded the minds of most Nigerians that day: “This weather is hot ooo…no food in the house…and there is no electricity sef, I can’t put on my fan and I can’t even watch TV to monitor how the election is going…why don’t I simply go out and use my vote to discontinue this discontent; why remain in the house when my vote can put an end to this vicissitude?” Therefore, they were impelled to demonstrate nobility and perceptibility not just because they were their civic responsibilities as good citizens of this nation but the extremely excruciating situation of their existence was enough impulse to mobilize them.
When they eventually got to the polling stations to carry out the voting rites, even the ineptitude and inadequacy of Professor Morris Iwu’s INEC could not deter them from the long endurance of endlessly standing under the sun to exercise their responsibilities. Even though elections are meant to be peaceful exercises where the electorates choose their leaders willfully, the mindless positioning of fully armed military men at the polling centers was unsuccessful in menacing them. The life Chairman of PDP, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who also doubles as the out-going President of Nigeria but who revels being referred to as Baba or Father of modern Nigeria, during the course of campaigns made a disgustingly barbaric and totally idealess statement that election is a “do-or-die affair”, ostensibly to emasculate the electorates and invoke apprehension in the polity, but the good people of Nigeria demonstrated apex maturity and intrepidity; they remained unperturbed despite this unexampled vacuousness and uncouthness of our garrulous President and his PDP goons.
When finally it was time for them to cast their votes after waiting for many hours, their sophistication was very apt; they were not going to make the monumental mistake of voting for party of outlaws anymore! They voted for political parties, candidates of their choices but the PDP. At some polling centers, the photographs and party logos of some non-PDP candidates were surprisingly missing from the ballot papers supplied by INEC. This galled some of the voters but, instead of not voting at all, they opted for other credible candidates – but certainly not PDP candidates.
In Oyo-State, no responsible voter was lunatic to cast his vote for Adedibu/Akala; in Osun State, the electorate elected Engr Rauf Aregbesola; in Ondo State, the masses wanted Dr Segun Mimiko; in Lagos, Barrister Babatunde Fashola, SAN, was the clearly fashionable choice of the Lagosians; in Ekiti, even the most moronic elector got it right by voting for Dr Kayode Fayemi; the citizenry of Edo State were not left out – they came out in multitudes and voted for Comrade Adams Oshiomole. In nutshell, and indeed, Nigerians all over the country were tired of being involuntary pilgrims in political hegira. The prudence they demonstrated with their votes was an eloquent testament to their ingenuity, serious-mindedness and pragmatism as a people.
After all the votes were cast, just as it is mandated by the law, the electoral officers at each polling booth counted the votes and consequently proceeded to announce the winners at the spot. Having heard that their preferred candidates have been declared the winners at most polling stations, some of the vibrant voters had already, amidst pants and pageantry, taken to the streets in celebration and jubilation of their escape from the Hades. For instance, in Oyo-State where I participated in the voting exercise, even though I am silent but strong member of the Action Congress party, I was convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that Senator Abiola Ajimobi had emerged the winner of Oyo-State gubernatorial election. Going by the results announced at the places where “human-beings” voted all over the State, the victory was readily conceded to Senator Abiola Ajimobi and his supporters were already agog and transported into the rhapsodic realm of gleeful hullabaloo.
Meanwhile, by the time the voting exercises were taking place, innumerable callers had distressfully called a live radio programme being aired on BCOS radio monitoring the electoral process, raising alarm that some armed guttersnipes donned in PDP uniform had carted away ballot boxes in some parts of the State. But rather than being alarmed, the voters were merely alerted. And being armed by the information that some scrofulous tykes were on rampage barefacedly stealing ballot boxes all over, the voters fused themselves together and mounted a bastion in readiness of the possibility that these PDP-sponsored hoodlums might come to their polling booth to forcefully cart away their votes as well. The staunch determination of these voters gave them the momentum to confront the guns and machetes of these scoundrels when they eventually got to some polling stations. The voters successfully revolted and resisted attempts to cart away their ballot boxes.
Since Professor Peller was already dead ten years ago, the electorates were convinced that nobody else was gifted with the power of abracadabra to change the results of the “secured” votes they had seen with their “korokoro” eyes overnight and therefore, they happily went home to relax, trusting that INEC would do the right thing by merely collating these results. To cap the euphoria of this epochal day, some of them, yours truly inclusive, even decided to watch the Manchester United demolition of Watford in the English FA Cup semi-final match which ended 4-1 in favor of Manchester United.
But on Sunday 15th April, 2007, Nigerians woke up to witness the worst shock of their lives. Professor Morris Iwu’s abracadabra had defied their wildest imagination. In Ekiti State where Action Congress had already won fifteen seats out of available twenty-six for State House of Assembly, to flatly beat PDP, which had just three seats, the man who lost of Ekiti-State gubernatorial election, Segun Oni had been declared the winner whilst Kayode Fayemi was pronounced to have lost! Mathematically, the inequality representation of the result was that 3 > 15!
In Edo State, the most active, deserving human-right fighter since the emergence of Nigeria’s democracy since 1999, Comrade Adams Oshiomole, was fraudulently announced to have lost to the lawless professor of law, Senator Professor Osunbor. In Osun State, Rauf Aregbesola, the man who had convincingly defeated the incumbent Governor in a landslide was also sadistically adjudged to have lost by INEC. In Oyo-State, Adebayo Alao Akala, the man whose name is synonymous to ignominy and wretchedness, who could not get up to 10% of votes cast at all the polling booths, was declared the winner. Abiola Ajimobi, the man had indisputably beaten Akala to the third position in the exercise, and who must have giving thanks to God for allowing him to come out as the victor of the electoral battle, was to told in unmistaken terms that he had woefully lost to Alao Akala. The same act of monumental perfidy happened in Ondo State and many other states nation-wide.
In the twinkle of an eye, the elation of the jubilant electorate was abruptly turned into unspeakable depression. The pride of the winners was uncannily derided by INEC. And, knowing fully well that the expected consequence of this act of blatant betrayal was none other than violent protestation, the Inspector General of Police, Sunday Eyindero, lost no time in announcing to the nation that “all forms of protests and demonstrations have been banned indefinitely”! The PDP led Federal Government had already deployed armed military men all over the country in order to preclude the possibility of squawking by the masses. What could be more degrading and demeaning? Even the aftermath June 12,1993 was not this grim for Nigerians. In addition to being politically manipulated, physically intimidated and psychologically traumatized, good people of Nigeria have been bludgeoned and muted from expressing their dissatisfaction to the unforgivable and indescribable leviathan of this electoral dupery.
As if all these were not enough, and in spite of gruesome murder of hundreds of innocent Nigerians during the election, President Obasanjo still unscrupulously claimed in a statement yesterday, 16th April, that last Saturday’s election was the most peaceful, free and fair in the history of Nigeria!
Well, yes indeed, it is possible to do all these things, imbued with a sense of absolute potency, or indeed of a temporary ascendancy, but one thing you cannot avoid is the consequence, and that consequence is none other than the moment of recovery from a state of vocal paralysis. However long it takes, there comes that destabilizing response of people’s anger, even under a military dictatorship. It is that moment when the stolen voice miraculously returns to its rightful proprietor, when the vocal chords are tuned to a strident register that shatters chains, stones, bricks and confront guns. It was manifested in the political history of Ondo and other States in 1983. Study throughout the history of mankind also testifies to these manifestations.
Whilst the outright winners of the elections have been crying and decrying the hideous and flagrant manipulations that characterized the elections, members of People’s Democratic Party have been shamelessly celebrating their bogus victory nationwide. I personally ran across the intimidating convoy of Alao Akala and his horde of amoral minions in Ibadan on Monday singing “Ose Baba”, hermetically guarded by armed policemen. The question that begs for answer is this: how long will these madness and injustices continue in Nigeria?