Lessons From Anambra Elections: Are Nigerians Weak?

by Adepoju Paul Olusegun

Like most Anambarians, non Anambra indigenes and residents, I spent most part of last weekend following the reports of polls via the internet. As usual, anticipated and highly expected, there were several skirmishes. Despite all these, a new lesson was learnt on why our electoral system and programme are perennially problematic. It is the complacency of the voters.

Last Saturday was the day when gladiators of Abuja and Anambra politics outwitted and outsmarted one another in what seemed like a do-or-die affair. Names like Prince Arthur Eze were copiously reverberating across most news reports as a result of his notoriety at what Nigerian ‘politicians’ are good at- rigging.

I’m not surprised that the PDP stalwarts deployed every artillery in their arsenal of weapons to rally around the founder of Soludoeconomics, neither was I disappointed that INEC’s voters’ registers bore names of late eminent Nigerians like Fela and Bola Ige, it has become Prof. Iwu’s way of paying glowing tributes to the late sages, and INEC’s role at ensuring that ballot papers of those who were disenfranchised of their fundamental human right were thumb printed for the candidate of their choice. Believe me, there is a comprehensive and all- encompassing voters’ register, you can only see it on days apart from the day of election. It’s part of the fault proof plan!

What is however disheartening is the complacency of Anambarians who were intimidated either by the big grammar and charts of Soludo et al, or by the blood shot red eyes of political thugs. One after another, we heard stories of how hoodlums disrupted electoral processes, carting or snatching away ballot boxes to be snuffed with thumb printed ballot papers of those whose names weren’t on the voters’ list, while the eligible voters looked on.

In times past, I thought only we the Yorubas feared trouble, compelling us to stay at peace when things are breaking into pieces, Anambarians had shown that the siddon look attitude is not an exclusively Yoruba affair, but a national phenomenon that has permeated all ethnic groups. United in fear, it seems, we stand!

This makes me wonder why are Nigerians afraid to defend their votes, standing arms akimbo or running helter skelter when they ought to stand against the insignificant fraction that wants to jeopardize the collective destiny of all?

Is it the weapons that are brandished by the disgruntled elements, or their blood shot eyes? Is it the deep baritone voice or Yokosuna thick biceps muscles? Or is it our innate tendency to flee at any sign of trouble knowing that there is nobody to watch your back? Many questions.

Going by the Anambra elections, it becomes evident that a million and one Wole Shoyinka, ‘Tunde Bakare and the likes cannot empower the voters, voters must empower themselves!

To ensure good attitude at Nigerian polls, everyone should be able to defend themselves with sticks, stones, matchets, daggers, licensed guns and juju armlets. It’s time to learn from Americans.

One of the reasons why America will continually have free and fair elections is not the technology or democracy, it is the civil right of citizens to carry guns. Imagine having 20 voters legally armed with guns, no amount of money and talk can convince thugs to snatch boxes knowing that anybody can take an aim.

In whatever form, Nigerians should rise up to defend their votes and not be intimidated by those working for people intending to serve the state. This is the mistake made by Anambarians in Saturday’s elections which has helped us to better understand the problem with our democracy- Nigerians seem to be weak!

Martin Luther King Jnr led hundreds of thousands on major streets campaigning for racial equality. If he had feared gunshots like Nigerians do, he wouldn’t have led the campaign. American blacks wouldn’t have been liberated, and who is Barack Obama to even think of being a black president in the White House talk less of blacklisting Nigeria?

It is time we redefined our democracy as the government of the people, by the people, for the people, and defended by the people. Until then, qualitative leadership will continue to elude us as we will be entrapped in our usual familiar vicious cycle; just like Anambarians, for the next four years.

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