Permutations just before we get to the polls
2015 GENERAL ELECTIONS
It is election time once again; a time when it is expected that the electorate decide who represent them at the various areas of government; that brief period when they have a say in governance; when politicians go caps in hands, begging for the support which most of them do not deserve, judging by their performances. To most ordinary Nigerians, the peasant and the poor, it is also that brief moment when they hope to enjoy their own ‘dividends of democracy’: paltry drop offs from these politicians by way of gifts of food items, clothes, pocket money, etc. There are posters everywhere, radio and TV sensitizations and advertisements. Every media house is busy now, with politicians and their agents talking, brainwashing the public.
So many issues are at stake this time for whoever would take on the mantle of leadership come May, 29. There are issues bothering on security, economy, (un)employment, agriculture and power for instance. But the startling thing is that most of our politicians are rather interested in campaign of calumny; when they try to defame the opposition parties while the major issues are little talked about. And when they do manage to talk about these vital issues, there are no concrete and detailed plans as to how they are to be actualized. People just make same old empty promises. Of course this development is very worrisome. First, it shows the degenerate caliber of our would-be leaders; a case of poverty of ideas. Then again, he whose house is on fire should not be concerned with such trifles as pursuit of rats. The Nigerian house is on fire and our politicians are not even as much as pursuing rats, but playing hide and seek with the rats. Quite pitiful!
POST ELECTION VIOLENCE
This brings us to the crucial problem of savagery and bloodshed which has been the bane of elections in Nigeria in the past. It is quite appalling that our fledgling democracy has been bedeviled by the machinations of unscrupulous and barbaric elements who have made violence their weapon for expressing their dissatisfaction with anything at all. It is heartrending that politicians have always incited these men of desperate fortunes whom they have kept both jobless and unenlightened for the purpose, to waste the lives and properties of innocent Nigerians whenever they do not see their own candidates win in elections. In a time like this then, when in the absence of any election Nigeria is rife with violence and insurgency, we could imagine what to expect when the real business gets down. Little wonder then that experts and observers have predicted a violence marled election and post election period.
Someone rightly noted that this violence syndrome has always emerged from a particular section of the country. But the painful thing here is that there are not attempts to forestall this. After all, it is always the hapless masses who cannot afford their personal security that are the victims. Consider this: Rainfall is a natural phenomenon which always occurs during its season, often with warning signs such as cloudiness, thunder, lightening, etc. As benign and useful as it is to man, it can however cause some damages to him. Now if a man knows that it is about to rain, he makes necessary effort to forestall damages that might accrue thenceforth. He sends all objects that are not required to be beaten by the rain into a shade. In extreme cases such as during important occasions, or when construction works are going on, rain makers are even called upon to disperse the gathering clouds, thereby preventing the rainfall totally. These are natural responses from normal human beings. But it would be very incomprehensible when a full grown rational man sees the sky heavily clouded, with thunder and lightning, and he knows he has dried clothes outside, as well as food items and other perishables, but he keeps on playing draft with his friends, ignoring the signs because he feels the clothes outside are not his, but his children’s’… Our politicians are simply not preparing for the rainy days.
Recently, it was reported by the news media that all the presidential candidates signed a non violence pact ahead of the 2015 general elections. But what has paper signature got to do with concrete acts of providing adequate security for millions of Nigerians?
THE BIRD THAT WOULD NOT FLY
The name Ejike Mbaka is virtually a household one in Nigeria and beyond. The charismatic man of God has built a reputation for himself of being both vociferous and mesmeric in speech, and is surely a force to reckon with in a country where it is often difficult to draw a curtain between religion and politics. Recently, Fr. Mbaka hit the news once again for his opinion on the choice of the presidential candidate for the on-coming election which he characteristically voiced to a teeming congregation on the New Year’s Eve. On the night, he made it clear that voting for the incumbent president Jonathan was like wishing Nigeria bad luck since Jonathan had failed in governance. Among other things he said (which are well documented in a commercial tape) he mentioned that of the four doves which he anointed and sent to fly to the four corners of the world for Jonathan, the healthiest one could not fly, no matter how he tried to force it. This for him was another confirmatory sign that GEJ was not the right man for the job.
Mbaka’s talk as he rightly anticipated generated a lot of reactions from the political and priestly class alike. To the GEJ sympathizers, it was a very heavy blow, given the personality of Mbaka and the influence he wields, the timing of the speech, the audience and location- being in an Igbo dominated zone where Jonathan is believed to have a political stronghold. No wonder he had to schedule an immediate visit to Enugu, apparently to begin to right the wrongs. Many of the church’s hierarchy also openly criticized Mbaka; some even threatening to sanction him on that account.
Well there are so many things to consider here. First of all, has Mbaka any rights to such declarations by law? And the simple answer to this is yes, if there is still anything like freedom of opinion. So the threat to sanction him will definitely be mean, selfish, and to say the least politically motivated. In a society where even the men of God compromise the interests and well being of their congregation just for paltry political benefits, it is sad to say that Mbaka is like that lone voice crying out in the wilderness, and should on no account be silenced. After all, some Nigerians have made even volatile comments in the past regarding the ineffectiveness of this government, and they have not been sanctioned even though they should.
But in fairness to GEJ, if three doves out of four could fly for him, was that (not) a pass mark? You be the judge. As for me it doesn’t matter. For If I were to throw my own pigeons, I don’t think any would have flown; may be just one.
It is no more news that so many people, especially in the southern part of the country are yet to collect their Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC). But what baffles me is the seeming inability of our politicians to understand the reasons for this. In some of the states, the governments have devised the cruel means of attaching PVCs to workers’ salaries- a case where if you don’t present your PVC, you don’t get paid.
The biggest reason for the overwhelming voter apathy is that the electorates are fed up with the whole system, and most of them are no longer in a haste to vote. I vividly remember what was the case in the last general election in 2011. There was much less sensitization for people to register and collect their voter cards. Most people particularly in southern Nigeria were willing to sacrifice anything to vote in their choice candidate; most people wanted to give GEJ a chance. And now, after four years, how has the grape gotten sour? Let our politicians ,count their teeth with their tongue’. For the records, we have much greater number of enlightened electorate, who should know the importance of voting in the south, than in the North, but why is the trend reversed going by the statistics of the number that have collected their PVCs? It is pretty funny when people make such statements as: ‘if you don’t vote, then you have no right to criticize the government’. What happens in a situation when none of the candidates meets your requirement; a case of the proverbial two kitchen knives-the one is sharp but without a handle, and the other is with a handle, but blunt. And as for those governments that attach workers’ salaries to PVC collection, let them remember that you can force a horse to the stream but can never force it to drink. That one has his/her card does not guarantee that he/she would vote on the D-day. Votes are solicited by convincing acts of governance, not by coercion.
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