Sometime in 2010 when Prof. Jega of INEC announced the rescheduling of the 2011 election from January to April, it was like April would take forever to come; but as each day passes by, it draws the nation closer to the decision (election) day. The election that would determine the future of the country or extend the futility of its polity. The nation is on a countdown, and the citizens are anxiously waiting for the alarm to sound the commencement of the exercise of the political right: The right to vote and be voted for.
Incidentally, the 2011 election is loaded with so many expectations on the part of the people: The expectation to exercise the political right that is embedded in the political will; the expectation to continue with the tradition of democracy; the expectation to vote out irresponsible political leaders and replace them with leadership that would serve the people, and the expectation to usher in a new regime that will respect human value and human integrity, rekindle the spirit of nationalism, and rebrand Nigeria as a credible entity within the global community.
The people’s sour experience was dated back to the first republic, where elected representatives used the people’s mandate for selfish purposes. This ignoble and anti-democratic leaders of government business set dangerous precedence for other successive political office seekers. They left a legacy that institutionalized corruption. Political offices are sought to corruptly enrich themselves and their families. Each successive regime tried to out crook their predecessors in all matters of impropriety. They became conscienceless fraudsters and killers. They fashioned different forms of schemes to steal, to kill and to destroy the people which they sworn to serve and the nation pledged to defend.
Political office holders’ corrupt attitude became a subculture that is neither questioned nor condemned by the society. In this effort of passive acceptability, young generations imbued into it and desire public office for its opulence and benefits. These disingenuous behaviors changed the color of Nigeria political landscape and destroy the spirit of patriotism. It discouraged the participation of people with integrity. In the civilized nations of the world, best brains are screened, nominated, recommended or elected into public office. Opposite is the case in Nigeria. The nation’s politics has been monetized. Politicking is left in the exclusive jurisdictions of the wealthy; without consideration to the source of their income.
Since Nigeria is careless about the source of wealth of its people, especially its public office holders; and since political office has been wrapped up with so much financial benefits and fortunes, political office seekers therefore seek all avenue, including illegitimate means to get rich. They use such ill-gotten wealth to contest an election or “buy” political office as a gate way to steal from the nation’s treasury. The mentality of politics as a quick get rich syndrome has corrupted and destroyed the moral fabric of the Nigerian nation. It promotes skepticisms about the possibility of a service centered leaders who genuinely have the interest of the masses and the nation at heart.
With the glamor of the elective office and its associated goodies, election became “do or die” affairs. Politicians and office seekers steals, robs, kidnaps and sometime kill other people or their opponents in an attempt to win or retain elective office. It is not a surprise therefore that democracy especially in African continent is wrapped up in blood. Election period is characterized with denial, destructions, and death. Nigeria 2011 general election is not immune from this senseless destruction of lives and properties. Since the announcement of the election time table by INEC, election related violence has consistently escalates. Innocent lives are wasted all over the federation; properties are needlessly destroyed, and the state of anarchy is slowly emerging. The hope for a promising and united Nigeria continues to deem. Election anxiety has turned Nigerian society to a night fall in Soweto, and its upheaval has reduced the process to a dreaded disease. The sun of hope is fast setting and the certainty of uncertain Nigeria continues to loom.
But before scholars of history and the nations of the world describe Nigeria as “once upon a Nigeria”; it is appropriate for Nigerians to ponder on this falling giant. To perceive this tall midget and think possibly for the very last time whether Nigeria is worth saving or it is better to bid it farewell. Perhap Nigerians should consider it reasonable to set aside the emotions of frustration which the present and past leadership has bedeviled on its people; and stand to wrestle the rich yet impoverished nation from the hands of its shylock and selfish leadership.
Better still, maybe Nigerians should take their case to the Lord in the tradition of the erstwhile enslaved Israelites in the land of Egypt. May be the Lord could be gracious to Nigerians as He did to the Israelites; may be the Lord could grant Nigerians another chance as He did to the City of Nineveh. May be the Lord would turn the selfish thoughts and the plans of those political leaders who sings Nigeria’s isintegration into the counsel of Ahitophel. May be; I mean may be .
The unsung songs of Nigeria 2011 general election is the probability of the continued existence of Nigeria as a single nation state. In the early 70s, during the reign of retired General Yakubu Gowon; “To Keep Nigeria One, Is a Task that must be done” was the focal point of the administration. Today emphasis has shifted. The present leadership does not appeared to be interested in one Nigeria. Their hiding agenda is fueling disunity amidst diversity. What matters to them is taking advantage of the nation’s resources to better themselves, even if it means sapping the nation out of existence. Otherwise how can one explain a situation when public servants conveniently steals billions of naira from the government’s treasury without consequence?
The time is right for Nigerians to put a stop to this stupidity. We as a people have had it long and tough. A decision must be made now: Decision to take our country back from the hands of its slaughterers; decision to fight a good fight; decision to use our vote as our weapon and to make good use of it; decision to vote out the useless and to vote in the useful; decision not to repeat the mistakes of the past but to reclaim our country from the hands of its oppressors. Decision to ACT on our decisions and refrain from been indifferent. After all, Nigeria is our country, it is therefore imperative that we salvage it together.
This should not be misconstrued as insinuation of war or suggestive of war of weaponry. What it recommends is that Nigerians should fight with their vote. A vote sold is a conscience mortgaged. It is an approval of the extension of despicable rulership that promotes deplorable living conditions. Let every qualified voter use his or her vote to fight against: corruption, inept administration and bad leadership, bad governance, poverty, insecurity of lives and properties, unemployment, bad health care system, bad roads networks, bad education system, epileptic energy supply, ineffective and inefficient civil service system, environmental and air pollution, servitude, socio-economic inequality and injustice of man to man.
Attention should be focused on political candidates and their manifestoes. Electoral success should be contingent on good political programs. Programs that are not only good on paper, but that could be transformed into policy. Policies that are designed to ameliorate the sufferings of the masses and improve their wellness. Politicking should be issues and substance based. Violence must be eschewed at all cost. Political campaigns and campaign rallies should not be used to promote bloodshed or inflict human and material pains on Nigeria
ns. Any candidate that advocates or encourages violence should be disqualify by INEC and outlawed by the court.
Record indicates that Electoral Reform Committee that was established by the late President Yar’Adua following the 2007 election found out that not a single Nigerian had been convicted and punished for any electoral offence since the country’s independence in 1960. There should be a radical departure from this repugnant past. Any person or group of persons or political party that attempts to or schemed to perpetrate electoral fraud should be prosecuted to the full length of the law; where police and the government officials are found to be in complicity, the people’s jungle justice should prevail. A scapegoat is needed to obliterate this obnoxious behavior.
Every voter is encouraged to vote. All votes must count and be counted. Nigerians are encouraged to record the voting process with their video cameras or cellphone cameras. All hands must be on deck to minimize electoral fraud. If anybody notices any hanky-panky or foul play, the police and the press should be notified immediately. It is our moral right to protect our political will. People should constitute themselves to teams of “vigilante” and monitor the electoral process with the intention to ensure a free and fair election.
The INEC chairman Prof. Jega once enjoined Nigerians not to expect a perfect electoral result in 2011; President Jonathan Good Luck was reported to have said that “even if Angels conduct elections in Nigeria, PDP would win”. President Jonathan has also publicly proclaimed the unpopular IBB as his godfather (a glimpse of things to come, if voted to retain power), the Maradona of Minna who had during the PDP primary stated that the nation needed old, experienced, and tested leaders as a president recently changed gear in favor of “generation change”. He declared this when Nuhu Ribadu and Fola Adeola – the ACN presidential candidates visited him in his Up-hill Minna mansion, an action believed in political circle as an attempt to promote Northern agenda. Muhammed Buhari – the CPC flag bearer has advised Nigerians to challenge President Jonathan Good Luck if their votes were rigged in April.
The implication of this is that political players and umpires cannot be trusted. They all have ulterior motives. Secondly, INEC’s impartiality is terribly in doubt based on the unfolding conspiracies and connivance by some of its officials. All political parties and players are potential riggers. Those who cry foul are the ones that are bitten to the scheme. The situation sends message of possible foggy electoral result to the nation. It is the responsibility of the people to renounce been label stupid. The people have the choice either to ensure that their collective will prevail in April 2011 general election or compromise their will; and extend their already jeopardized human dignity.
One thing is clear, the conduct and the outcome of the April election will determine whether Nigeria’s night has finally come. If the people would resist been fooled by the current ‘do nothing bark loud’, oppressive political regime who desire to retain power at all cost; the parallel government of Ivory Coast, or the Zimbabwe model will never be an option to Nigerians . Reaction to electoral fraud in April might spell a new Nigeria. The political uprising of the yester – years will be a child play. The trio experience of Tunisia, Egypt, and Ivory Coast will be less than a catalyst needed to enforce the peoples will. Nigerians will resist electoral fraud from Sokoto to Calabar and from Lagos to Maiduguri. The masses will rise up and put finality to the ignoble history of electoral rigging. The coffin of this mal adaptive behavior would be laid into its final resting place. If Nigeria as a nation survive this imbroglio, its detractors and destroyers will not escape been dumped into the waste bin of history.