Prior to the recently held elections in Nigeria, most people believed that a candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, would win the ticket for the presidency. Even when, by some Houdini twist, it emerged that the party had picked a certain Alhaji Umar Musa Yar’Adua against all political realities and permutation and against more formidable and credible opponents, such sense of belief didn’t change. This belief was, more than anything else, hinged on the fact that even though all the political parties would attempt to rig and fight, the PDP would outfight (physically), outrig and outdo other parties and individuals, including the masses, in every way, to gain office. Add to that the quality of the opposition and their strategies or lack of thereof, plus the fact that there was a more than tacit consensus about the incapability of the body charged with the conduct of the elections, the Independent(?) National Electoral Commission, INEC, and any one who doubted that there could be an actual election jolly well had reasons to do so.
The elections have come and gone. Yar’Adua is now president-elect. A certain Goodluck Jonathan, who might be fooled into describing as serendipitous, the political concoctions that have consistently pushed him into only previously dreamed-about positions in the political configuration of Nigeria in the last couple of years, is vice president-elect. At least, so they claim. Once again, everyone is scrambling for their copy of the thesaurus to conjure up expressions to describe the political exercises (I refuse to call them elections) that took place in Nigeria sometime in April 2007. Of course, the tribunals are in for a busy time between now and the next general elections, as all members of the opposition, Tom, Dick and Harry inclusive, will roam the tribunals until the very eve of the next general elections in 2011.
As was the case before the pseudo-elections took place, everybody, Nigerians and foreigners alike, shares the view that the exercise was basically flawed and that the PDP instigated the flaws using state machinery, for its own benefit. The consensus is that the PDP-led government at the center was never keen on conducting free, fair and credible elections. However, if it is true that the PDP gods were always going to rig the elections no matter what, then the opposition provided a cast of characters, plot and setting that the late Ola Rotimi would have considered made-to-fit for his classic play “The Gods Are Not To Blame”. Like Odewale and the rest of the cast, the opposition did as much as the PDP to ensure that the PDP gods fulfilled their predestination. Even when they were faced with reality, everyone in the so-called opposition, including those who were morally and intellectually compromised as well as those who could not have won the elections even if they were conducted within their own family alone, insisted on making a mockery of the political exercise called election, and in particular the exalted office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. They all resisted the nobler motive that would have seen them, at the very least, pull resources together against the PDP if truly they were all out to serve the interest of the people. The result today, is that a cabal has had its way and, Chemistry teacher and Mr. Integrity or not, we have, at the center at least, an unpopular and essentially illegitimate government-in-waiting to show for it.
Funny enough, if there was to be a ‘coup from heaven’ in a nation like Zimbabwe today and, like in Togo a couple of years back, some folks in that country decide to make Robert Mugabe’s 10-year-old daughter the president in her father’s place, Nigeria will be there posturing as the ‘giant of Africa’ and sermonizing about the need to protect democracy and adhere to the rule of law and the constitution. Yet, this is a country that cannot even satisfy the most basic requirements for conducting elections at whatever level. This is a country that has mortgaged its future to a coterie of intellectually half-baked and power-drunken men for whom the only imperative is power, absolute power.
While my claim to being religious is feeble, and my spirituality is… well…, it is ironic to know that this same impenitent characters occupy the front rows in our churches and mosques every Sunday and Friday. Yet we cannot really blame them. How can we when, from May 29, this year most of these same political rapists, with their freshly acquired titles as ‘Your Excellency’, ‘Honourable’, ‘Senator’, and all that, will have been licensed to be ‘Damed’ and Knighted, and even conferred with honorary academic titles by men and institutions that are charged with nurturing the spiritual, intellectual and moral soul of this society. These usurpers, the same band of less-than-decent individuals who have no qualms whatsoever shedding the blood of the people they pretend to want to serve will be ‘Baloguned’, ‘Yeyed’, ‘Otunbad’ and turbaned with all manner of titles by biddable and greedy old men and even women. Old people who have, for a lifetime, together with their friends and neighbours been complaining about the absence in this country, of practically all amenities that make life tick in saner climes. Sadly, the same individuals seem to agree that it is the most natural thing there could be for their grandchildren and great-grandchildren and the children of their great-grandchildren to continue to have same complaints.
The rest of us will, of course, fall into line. They will bait us. For every crumb of bread those who have stolen power from us patronizingly give to each of us, we will roll out the drums to sing them on. With the money they steal from us they will buy siren-blaring cars, and horsewhips to go with them just in case we fall out of line while they are in a hurry. And in 2011, we will start acting out this well-rehearsed and over flogged script all over again. Right in the presence of the international community we will all jest about ourselves once again because, as ‘the happiest people on earth’, that is what we are good at. We are just a bunch of individuals who are incredibly talented at and have a penchant for amusing anyone who knows how to force a smile out on their lips. We never seem to learn anything from the drawing board we go back to each time things go wrong in this country, which is all the time. Maybe we do not take ourselves seriously enough to learn anything from there. As long as we do not adjust, we shouldn’t expect others to take us seriously because I think, to them, we may as well be a bunch of buffoons anyway.