After the April 16 presidential elections, I was in my office. The day was a Monday and it is usually a day I set aside to ponder and plan. But this morning, I was not my usual pondery and plannery self. Rather, I was ruminating on the presidential election and how it is being adjudged the equivalent of the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election in ‘freeness and fairness’. The focus of my pondery was not on those areas however, and that was probably because we all have our different parameters and definitions of freedom and fairness. Therefore, my mind was already drifting in the direction of the stories making the rounds – that the PDP and CPC vied both on the ballot and on mind bogging sums that they doled out to secure votes. So, that morning, my line of thinking was that politics is still that dirty old game – the stakes, particularly for the Nigerian and African politician are paranormal and this is in spite of the outcome of last week’s presidential elections and the pre-election do-not-rig-for-me declaration by the winner.
I was abruptly yanked from my reverie. My neighbour, a pregnant lady from an adjacent office dashed in, screaming and wailing like one who just lost her mother – and indeed that was what seemed to have happened. According to her, her mother had called that people in their home in Zaria were being slaughtered over the outcome of the elections. My neighbour said she heard her mother scream in the background and before the phone went dead, she heard her mother pleading for her life to be spared. This is Tuesday the 19th of April and my neighbour has not ascertained the whereabouts of her mother and family in Zaria. But it was not only Zaria that was mad. At the last count, about five hundred innocent Nigerians both Moslems and Christians in the North have been killed. In Minna, Niger State, 50 Corps members were locked up and the building set ablaze. They managed to escape unhurt. Already churches, mosques and the homes and businesses in the North have gone up in smoke.
But as a matter of fact this has been the character of some people in the North. At the slightest whim, they reach for their bows and arrows, spill blood and take life. And the lives they take in most cases are those of innocent people who have little or nothing to do with the issues at stake. Perhaps that is why I will not want to join issues concerning this killing spree. My focus is on the person who ordered this orgy, either directly or by his body posture. For me, the culprit is General Muhammadu Buhari, former Nigerian head of state. Many people say that the man is a closet jihadist and I did not believe it until now. In fact, I used to idolize him as a worthy Nigerian but now no more. At one of the campaigns, he asked his supporters to defend their votes with their blood. There is nothing wrong with this, particularly when we realize that elections in the past have been a carry-go-to-the-highest-bidder affair. So, if this was going to be the case and people were to defend their votes with their lives, we all could have done it together as one people and not as South against North or Muslims against Christians or vice versa. According to one of my readers, Nasir Saadu Ibrahim Bauchi, the people Buhari is asking to defend their votes are illiterate and poor and 80 percent of them cannot afford to have a meal per day. They do not have primary education and have been denied every social and economic benefit as Nigerians. Therefore [Nasir told me], they feel hopeless and futureless and are really to fight on the side of anyone who prompts them. The prompt they got this time from Buhari was that the man responsible for their inability to have their breakfast and dinner is the president elect.
But is this really fact? Is the president elect [who has held power for less than a year] responsible for Borno State and most states in the North having the worst Human Development Index, HDI, in the whole of West Africa? In 50 years of our independence, the North has held power for more than three quarters of that time. Have they translated this stranglehold to improve on the inequality of life highlighted by Nasir Saadu Ibrahim Bauchi? Look at the election in question: the only thing that stops it short of the quality of the June 12 1993 election is the allegation making the rounds that both parties, the PDP and the CPC rigged massively. While the CPC is alleged to have doled out N100million to every state governor in the country, the PDP was also alleged to have out-doled the CPC by N2billion to each state governor to deliver their states. So, why is the pot calling the kettle black and setting our home on fire?
The bottom line to all of this is that we have never been ready as a nation to live together as one people. The mistrusts between the North and the South will continue to tear us apart, and even though we manage to get through this, we will merely have succeeded in postponing the evil day. If that be the case, we better all sit down now and arrange to go our separate ways instead of continually making a nuisance of ourselves in the international community.
PS. As I begin to conclude, my friend, Nasir has called to say that there was a reprisal in Zanko in Kaduna. Where is all this leading?