I am so excited, haven’t been this excited in a long time! Today, the 9th of April is a day that will go down as one of the most significant days in the history of Nigeria. Today, in my opinion laid yet another block in the foundation that is a New Nigeria. Why? Are you even asking?
When Egypt happened earlier in the year, I was excited at the strength of the people, the collective will of the people that transcended religious lines (producing one of the best pictures I have ever seen in my entire life, christians protecting muslims and vice versa), transcended socio-economic statuses, age, creed, you name it. The people had one demand, that Hosni Mubarak and his government leave power. It took a while, but he left, and every day, the symbols of his government are being removed too.
Someone said shortly after that Nigeria was/is not ready for a revolution, that we are not ready to die for the country. I remember replying that we don’t need to die for our country to be what it should be, that if change was a product of bloodshed, we’d shed enough already to make us a ‘world power‘! He said that we were ‘twitter/facebook activists’, who wouldn’t make any difference; I said that the fact that we existed as activists at all was a sign that we had had it, and promised, even in absentia, to prove him wrong.
Organizations like ReclaimNajia, EiE Nigeria, Vote or Quench, Rally For Nigeria, What About Us, Light Up Nigeria were the response by young people to issues that our elders have hitherto been unable to answer. Issues like electricity, security, health, education, employment, crime, you name it. From the 16th of March 2010 when young people under the auspices of the Enough is Enough coalition protested to the National Assembly, I knew it, I knew our time had come. For the first time in the history of the country, youths asked questions of their leaders. What About Us? What are your plans for our country?
Young people (18 – 35) in Nigeria make up 70% of the 150 million that is our population; that has been the driving force behind the campaigns to Register, Select, Vote,and Protect the vote. If only half of this demographic voted, rigging would be difficult. And thanks to mobile technology and apps like ReVoDa that birthed citizen journalists round the country, I knew something would give.
Then on the day of the National Assembly elections, there was the ‘logistics’ excuse and the elections were postponed. Originally, it was to be National Assembly : 2nd April, Presidential : 9th April, and Governorship/State Assembly : 16th April. Attahiru Jega, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral commission (INEC) moved the National Assembly elections to the 4th of April, but moved everything forward by a week the night before the 4th. The new dates became National Assembly : Sat, 9th April(today), Presidential : Sat, 16th April, and Governorship/State Assembly : Tues, 26th April.
Apart from the postponement discouraging people, last night we heard of an explosion in the INEC office in Suleja, Niger State. Amongst the dead from that blast were 6 corps members. Unconfirmed reports from yesterday had it that a young man in Kaduna who was ‘planting’ a bomb made a mistake and set off the bomb, on himself. Talk about karma being swift. Like I said on twitter last night, may God comfort all the families who have lost mothers, fathers, sons and daughters in any of these horrible blasts, and may the souls of the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
Despite all these, the turn out for today was at least 150% above what it was in 2007, when less than one-third of the voting population voted; some people were not even aware of the aspirants that would be representing their constituencies! Despite bomb scares, tales of violence, the scorching sun, snail-like activity at the polling centres, people went out, got accredited, and when the time came, they voted. Not only did they vote, but they waited for the votes to be counted, and then they tweeted the results. Nigerians challenged people who came to snatch ballot boxes – there are several reports of people overpowering and disarming thugs who came to cause confusion at the polling centres – they provided snacks and drinks for their brothers and sisters who had to wait in long queues for their turn to ‘press their hand’.
Today, according to Nigerian hip-hop sensation Naeto C, “things are not the same….levels don change now….” The revolution that has begun today will remain with us for years to come. And even though I am worried that from the results coming back we are voting largely along ethnic lines with the Coalition for Progressive Change (CPC) winning most of the seats in the North, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) seizing the West and All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) trying to remain relevant in the East, I think that we are on the road to getting it this time, and that’s all that matters for now.
I’ll wrap for now with a tweet from @segundemuren, that “we exercised our right to vote because we want to develop. My prayer is democracy should lead to development”.
- Social Media and the New Dimension to Nigerian Politics (fairygodsister.wordpress.com)
- Jonathan votes, says Nigeria will not be deterred by anti social elements (vanguardngr.com)
- The Value of My Vote……. (fairygodsister.wordpress.com)