To each is own, there are many countries in the world wherein the hope of the people is to excel and lead in one thing or the other. In these countries, people feel great when their fellow citizens make discoveries in science and the world looks towards them for great arts. They are proud when their national flags are hoisted as wining flags in games and sports. They derive their joy from electing public leaders that set a tone for great transformations, individuals in these countries are happy because they feel they too are part of history.
Unless we want to deceive ourselves, the Nigeria of today is far from offering any one of such joys. Science in the country is at best stale, national education needs saving, healthcare is based on miracles, it works on exceptions and our sports offer no great promise. It has not always been like this and our hope is that it does not continue to be so. Giving the state of the country, the only source of joy now seems to be the joy of normalcy. It might sound too little a joy but if you humanize the country Nigeria for a moment and you imagine it to be a sick person, then you will quickly realize that just being normal can be a great joy for the sick person that does not have the joy of normalcy.
One of the greatest and perhaps most damaging idiosyncrasies of Nigeria is the quest for greatness without ever striving for normalcy. There is a sort of a born-to-be-great self-delusionary mindset that has for long induced Nigerian leaders and its people talk about achieving greatness when they have not even got the basics of normalcy right. For too long, one of the most recurrent rhetoric of Nigerian leaders has been centered on the greatness of Nigeria, some want to achieve it whilst others want to restore it. This weird obsession with the greatness of Nigeria is based mainly on factors such as the size of Nigeria, its population and the natural resources that country is littered with.
It is a weird obsession because pure facts in hand, Nigeria is hardly famous for any greatness when compared to other nations in the world, rather as a country, we are famous for importing products and services and imitating rules and practices. By the way, there is nothing particularly wrong with that; reinventing the wheels is almost always a useless exercise. The Nigerian obsession with greatness however becomes even more weird and reveals a lot of its eccentricities when we remember that most of the countries we imitate and import from hardly talk about greatness.
All they do in these places is to operate a normal country wherein they get things done. Their flights arrive on time, their roads are constantly maintained and repaired when damaged, the most qualified people get the most important jobs, their public officers respect the law and are accountable to the people, their elections never require military presence, before elections one has a fair idea of who will win and on election day no one is forced to close her business and no one is forced to renounce to her right to move about or forced to live in fear; because they are normal countries, things do go wrong and when they go wrong, most people know where to go to and who to hold accountable. The mission of those in charge of both public and private affairs is to make sure that things run normally and their duty is to identify and deal with anything or person that will be a hurdle to normalcy.
In a normal system, election results come out and the winner is declared right after the voting. The system is simple, straight and normal so there is no room and hence no fear of rigging. In such system, the defeated candidate understands that it is his or her civic duty to concede defeat and to wish the winner the best. In democracies, this is not just formality, it is an essential ritual conceived and practiced with the aim of legitimizing the winner’s office and above all normalizing the system after a period unavoidable partisan acrimony.
To each is own, whilst supporters of the reelected Governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomole are understandably and legitimately rejoicing over the victory of their candidate, those of us more interested in the system must not fail to notice three simple normal things. Firstly the predicted winner won the elections with little or no surprise, we may not consider that an achievement but imagine the violence if the declared results had been otherwise. Secondly the results came out on time, this is crucial because it makes INEC appear a normal electoral body capable of living in the days of modern technology. Last and not least in anyway, the PDP, from the President to the state candidate came out to swiftly recognize their defeat and wish the winner well.
These very little joy of normalcy are what makes a system work and that is all we need to make the country great, pardon I meant to say normal.