Are Nigerians Actually Poor Losers?

by Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku

Some Nigerians definitely are losers. But this does not pertain to all of them, however, as we have been told and often reminded by certain purveyors of intellectual and social discourse. And the reason why we have decided to make that initial testament is because we feel that losing is a natural phenomenon which can be a consequence sometimes of either the centrifugal or centripetal forces at play. In a keenly contested competition, the pendulum could shift either way: in your favour or disfavour. It is your attitude at losing or winning that determines whether you won or lost.

We want to pursue this point a little further than this. And this is because of the unfortunate appellation that has just been ascribed to justifiably aggrieved politicians who insist that last week’s gubernatorial elections were a parody of an election. The experts believe that because hordes of them cry foul at losing the elections in favour of the dominant political party, then, they really must be poor losers indeed.

Well, before we go right on to sink our teeth into the meat of this argument, perhaps it would do us some good if we come to some sort of mutual understanding and agree that Nigerians are resilient, dogged people. As we have said elsewhere than this, what is actually meant by Nigerians being the happiest people in the world is euphemism for the fact that Nigerians are resilient: whatever indignity or severity that nobody could stomach, the Nigerian would. Also, I shouldn’t be the one to tell you that Nigerians have proved their mettle in any situation where the variables are constant. In is in situations where the variables haven’t been as constant as they should be that Nigerians have had to resort to crook means to get what they want. As part of light-hearted banters most times, we tell ourselves that if you are to visit the remotest village or town anywhere in the world and you don’t find a Nigerian, you better not stay. Nigerians have proved that they, like any people elsewhere have positive and negative potentials, in most cases positive potentials and credentials in the fields of science, the Arts, sports, music and in international politics. Yes, we do.

Maybe the reason for this unfortunate tag of Nigerians being poor losers is a consequence of the shoddy way the elections were handled. If that is the case, then I totally agree with you that we actually lost a very good opportunity to show ourselves capable of handling an election that created sustained interest and threw up a plethora of issues from both the local and international community: nearly everyone wanted to find out if Nigeria can be a good example to other African nations the way Ghana did a little while ago. No, let me rephrase: nearly everyone so desperately wanted us to succeed in the elections as evidence that we are truly the giant of Africa. If we were able to handle this transition of one civilian government to another, I’m sure it would have made our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora, even our detractors happy.

But something in my guts tells me that this is not the case. Those who say we are poor losers say we are poor losers because they are desperate that there should be no ‘trouble’ at all even if it is so, so, so obvious that there were glaring cases that the election was a failure and had the semblance of a selection; they are desperate that the elections should be ‘free and fair’, even though it was clear that the umpire took sides, barred those that the government asked it to bar, and was not altogether prepared.

As far as some of us are concerned, if those who are kicking against the partiality of INEC; if those who are complaining that they were rigged out of contention and relevance have not kicked and complained, we would be mighty surprised and disappointed that they let go without a fight. We would be mighty surprised and disappointed because nearly all through the life-span of the out-going Obasanjo administration, three-quarters of it was spent chasing after governors of the ruling government who were mostly allegedly corrupt people. We had the PTDFgate scandal in the Executive arm of government that left an embarrassing feeling in our guts. Are we then to be seen as trying to say that we were happy with the underperformance of the PDP, at the kind of embarrassment and hardship that they passed us through in eight years and want to endure such suffering again by giving them a landslide at the polls? No way, my man – so many things went wrong with the governorship elections and this is why a great many people are complaining – and rightly so. What they seem to be saying now is what Shakespeare said about Nigeria a long time ago in his political play, Macbeth, that what is deemed fair in this particular election is actually foul, and what seems foul in the complains of those rigged out of contention is actually fair’.

I wouldn’t agree with you if you think that those who are complaining now are poor losers. In the election that ushered in Mr. Bush, ballot boxes were discovered in churches, of all places. A particular state, Florida I think, was too close to call. The votes that were said initially were Gore’s eventually went to Bush in the recounting that was conducted. At the end of the day, Gore bluntly refused to concede defeat to his rival. In doing this, did Americans or anyone else see him as a poor loser? No sir. That Gore didn’t concede defeat at once didn’t diminish the value of the whole of the American election exercise. Rather, his refusal to concede defeat immediately strengthened and invigorated the America psyche – the options at resolving the impasse were fully stretched to their full potential and at the end of the day, it was the American people that benefited from all of that trouble.

I implore you not to listen to that lie that Nigerians are poor losers. Those who express such sentiments are naïve, have no sense of their history and are content with living the little life that corrupt politicians have carved out for them.

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