When talking about issues and prospects of the country, it is a common place in Nigeria to lump together its people and wrap them up as one into a shroud of helplessness inside which people are jolted and crushed every so often by the shock of some obvious and clearly avoidable mishaps; the recently concluded parliamentary elections is a clear proof, for those that need one, that we the people are not all the same and that we are not all guilty of the woes of Nigeria.
Hours before the parliamentary elections that took place in most part of the country, some self-serving, coldblooded cowards tried to impede the people of Nigeria from casting their votes, an exercise, which is a sacrosanct civic right and duty of every eligible citizen. The perpetrators resorted to violence as a means of intimidating and terrorizing people but luckily for the country many Nigerians stood up to them to say “not this time” and they did so by going out to vote for the parties and candidates of their choice. Our thoughts and prayers go to the victims and families of that violence and we appeal to all to make sure that their involuntary sacrifice is not in vain.
Most people in world rely on the media for news regarding events that concerns them but that did not directly happen to them. One of the many things that caught the attention of some observers is the way the media reported the tragic bombings that occurred in Suleja: leading newspapers in the country published different figures of dead youth corpers, at one point the NTA even claimed that no youth corper died. It is wrong to say “the media got it wrong” or “you cannot trust the media”. Let us be clear about it when different news outlets give different information on the same event, they cannot all be wrong or right, someone is guilty of bad reporting and someone else got it right.
After the irritating and expensive postponement that occurred last week, it was quite expectable for voters to have less enthusiasm to rush out to vote, the bombings of course did not help matters and indeed less people came out than those that did the week before. Those that came out this last Saturday and eventually voted, it must be said, were the ones that stood up for the rest of us. It was a test of stamina and commitment and the people that came out are the ones that passed that test. Walking round polling booths and consulting people on their phones, one of the other things that will have caught the attention of an attentive observer is the typology of those that voted during this first round of elections.
A lot of our middle class, or elite as they are called in Nigeria, were not seen voting last Saturday, majority of the people that voted are the ones hastily and superficially described as not capable of understanding the complexity of democracy or incapable of rationally choosing competent leaders. It is a common practice of our middle class to sit down in the comfort of their sitting rooms in front of their TV sets to watch foreign programmes and then make strong analysis and weighty comments to be followed by no actions at all. Ironically, this same group of people that cannot find the courage and the required stamina to vote and promote the election of the most capable candidates for the country are also the same ones to be the first to complain about how we got ourselves into this mess when something goes wrong. They helplessly wonder why some kind of people are in charge of public affairs. They talk about the need for change, reform and restructuring but do nothing about it. Well, I have some information for them: we are not all guilty of not trying at all. A lot of Nigerians have found the courage to defy terror, the stamina to overcome logistical inconveniences, the audacity to hope that their vote will count and have gone out to start doing their part in the task of changing things in the country.
We are not all guilty of thinking and surrendering to the idea that things cannot change for the better in Nigeria. Whilst a lot more can be done to improve the voting process in the country, most of those that voted were clearly satisfied with the way things went during the last voting exercise. It is important to note that people seem pleased with the process and the result of the voting because they left home to vote with a clear resolution that their votes must not be mismanaged. They left their homes armed with plans and equipments to resist electoral malpractices. That is the way real citizens behave and from now on, it will be wrong and unfair to blame the people of Nigeria in toto as we are not all guilty of not doing anything beyond complaining.