(A Case Study of Kogi-Bayelsa Gubernatorial and Senatorial Elections)
Sadly, we are still where we used to be. We are still where we’ve been since the white men left us to handle ourselves as adults. What seems to be a sane election process was last conducted in the 90s; other subsequent elections have only been a display of our weakness, immaturity and selfishness.
When we think of elections in Nigeria, the things that come to mind are guns, cutlasses, blood everywhere, deaths, manipulations and countless other electoral crimes. Parents advise their children to refrain from taking the contract as ad-hoc officials but corps members have to obey the ‘clarion call’ and risk being kidnapped or even killed. It is surprising though, that thousands of Nigerian struggle to be ad-hoc officials during elections knowing the risk involved. Their hungry desire to get their own share of the ‘national cake’ is more than enough reason to jump at the offer.
There are many things wrong with Nigeria and INEC and the electoral process! Who is unaware of technological advancements that would save us the stress of carrying ballot boxes and papers all over the place? Who has not heard of technological advancements that can help in proper and accurate documentations? Who doesn’t know there are better ways of dealing with electoral crimes like rigging of elections? Who doesn’t know? Yet, our government has failed to address the ultimate matter, they are more concerned about amassing wealth and leaving their home land in the gutters. How sad!
The Kogi and Bayelsa elections were no exceptions. Ballot papers disappeared, thugs were everywhere, people were killed as usual! Much more, a supposed senator was caught (in a tape) distributing money to voters after voting claiming that they were not induced, but rather receiving ‘change for akara’. Many forcefully bowed out in the name of serving their Fatherland but we all seem to have forgotten them; after all, it is normal in Nigeria, results have been declared and some of us have gone home with our share of the ‘national cake’. It is crystal clear that the administrations will be as miserable as the election. Yet, who do we blame? Our selfish political leaders or the hungry masses who would rather trade their future for a plate of porridge like Brother Esau, men who would rather bury the hopes of the future for tiny balls of ‘akara’.
People cannot be blamed. They go after the ‘big men’ and their ‘big cars’ seeking tiny crumbs of what is actually theirs- because of poverty; not just poverty, abject poverty, extreme poverty! Many compromise and dance to the tune of these insatiable wolves in sheep’s clothing. If this continues (with poverty as an excuse), we will remain in the ocean of poverty forever.
Therefore, it is wiser and more truthful of us to agree that what we have is not democracy, anything else but democracy. People are being used, the wide gap between the political class and the masses is like that between the elephant and the ant. In Nigeria, there is no democracy. What ought to be a peaceful decision-making process for the people is nothing but a display of insanity. Because of this, some of us choose to stay back in our homes or even leave the country (if we can afford it) and leave the election for the owners of the election. For how long will this go on?
Many of us may not be able to come out and fight for the people. Many of us may choose to hide our heads and protect our lives but all of us must not be silent about the truth. All of us must stand for what is right until we see our desired Nigeria, whether or not in our lifetime.