I remember telling my friends (you know yourselves) that I felt unhappy about not being able to register and vote in these elections, and for obvious reasons. I mean, I could fly in and out of Nigeria (because I am a Fairy) but I’m not one to show off *wink*

I decided to do what I know how to do, write about it, and hope that enough people would read and see the importance of actively participating in their democracy, not just sitting at home and whining every chance they get. So from how social media is affecting/has affected our politics, to the Nigerian artistes whose work during these times I respect, to knowledge of the constitution being necessary, and even using a story someone sent me on Facebook about the value of our votes, I wrote. And tweeted. And wrote, and tweeted.

When the elections were postponed from the 2nd of April, honestly I was apprehensive, and with good cause. The wave of revolutions sweeping across North Africa has been knocking on our door for quite a bit now, and I hoped we would answer with our thumbs pressed against ballot papers, and give that answer only. And so even though we knew the background of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, how he is upright, ‘stubborn’, and does what he says, I was still worried. For over 87billion naira you should have locked down to the minute the timing and movement of all election materials; as far as I was concerned, there was no excuse for cancelling elections when the electorate had already spent half the day in the sun getting accredited. In spite of this I was very impressed with him accepting responsibility and apologising. At least he acknowledged that he (and by extension INEC) goofed, Maurice Iwu (immediate past Chairman of INEC) would have gone ahead with the elections and then declared them the ‘most free and fair since Nigeria’s independence’.

On the 9th of April, the elections into the ‘hallowed chambers’ of the National Assembly held in over 100, 000 polling units round Nigeria. Except for a few cases of foolishness by party agents, serving politicians, and the voters, the elections went smoothly. It was refreshing to see parties get seats in the house, and I’m looking forward to more fruitful debates, with varying opinions. It was also fulfilling working in the Social Media Situation Room (Abuja) with @bubusn, @debiemangut, @alkayy, @rmajayi, and @blazeotokpa; twas a really good feeling.

Saturday the 17th of April was the election for the highest office of the land, the Presidential elections, and based on the 9th, we inched towards the day with great expectations for a smoother, more credible process. Aspirants included Nuhu Ribadu of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Goodluck Jonathan, incumbent and candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Dele Momodu of the National Conscience Party (NCP), Muhammadu Buhari of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Ibrahim Shekarau of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP), and 13 others.

Now I didn’t work in the situation room this time but I followed the elections closely on and offline. By evening, it was obvious that the ‘contest’ was between CPC’s Buhari and PDP’s Jonathan, with Buhari winning states in the North and Jonathan dominating just about the rest of the country. I prayed for a run off, and for three reasons:

  • because we’ve never had run-off elections before in the country (doesn’t count much as a reason I know)
  • to pool all the votes ‘wasted’ (in my opinion) on parties no one was aware of!
  • to increase the percentage of voters. A run-off would spike the interest of the electorate.
Those dreams were squashed by night when the collated results showed a gap in votes that only a miracle could cover. And since it is votes, and not miracles that count in this situation….
More results poured in by Sunday and a lot of people were already congratulating the incumbent on his victory and continued tenancy at Aso Rock. Foreign media had grown bored with Nigeria’s largely peaceful/uneventful elections and had resumed reporting on other troubled African countries.
And then we heard there were protests in Maiduguri, capital of Borno, a state in the North. Reason? The ‘people’ were unhappy with the percentage of the wins. The violence spread to Gombe and Jigawa later that night, where confirmed reports have it that a politician (name obviously withheld) lost his three children.
Monday morning, pictures of youths on rampage and the carnage they left flooded the internet as the violence several crescendos and spread to Zaria and Kaduna, both in Northern Nigeria. Emirs’ palaces, property belonging to stalwarts of PDP, churches, mosques, and INEC offices were torched; people were hurt, even killed, thousands displaced from their homes, youth corps members (who were ‘forced’ to volunteer as poll officers) were targets, it was just devastating. The youths were chanting (amongst other things), “sai Buhari, sai chanchi”, “we want Buhari, not an unbeliever”, etc.
And then it got into Abuja, with a bomb scare at the densely populated Wuse market, and skirmishes in other parts of
the city. And into Bauchi and  Benue States, more Middle belt.
Sadly, these weren’t the only hot spots; Twitter was literally on fire on Monday. Opinions (and the humans behind them) clashed, tweeps were blocked, feelings hurt, rumors and counter rumors peddled, and some outright inciting comments were made.
In all of this, I think we all agreed that the young people behind this destruction are hungry, and illiterate, and are causing this havoc on the orders of some politicians whose families are – as I type – spending extra time in gyms abroad in readiness for the summer holidays. Which is what delayed this chronicle till now….I doubt the rioters are both on the streets and behind their laptops to read this; or perhaps they are on the streets with a weapon in one hand and an iPad in the other?
I salute the government for reacting to the crisis (let’s ignore how long it took them to respond, at least they did at all) and evacuating people (especially corps members) from hot spots.  Just in case, these are the numbers for the National Security Agency; 09-6303520, 09-6303521, 09-6303522, 09-6303523, 09-6303525, and the SSS contact lines are 081-32222105, 081-32222106, 081-32222107, and 081-32222108.
While I sympathize with every family who’s lost someone in this crisis, I call on every one who reads this to abandon the blame game and channel those energies into brainstorming a lasting solution to this crisis. To the aspirants, this is the time to go back to the places where you begged for votes and beg them to stop this madness; use your influence over your followers to make yourself worthy of our votes in the next four years! Any grievances you have should be taken to the courts, especially now that the amended Electoral Act stipulates that the courts have nine months to address any squabbles from the elections.
To the media (local and foreign), this is not the time to be sensational with your headlines and stories. If you don’t have facts/confirmed reports, feel free to discuss health, fashion or fitness but do not peddle rumors or stoke the flames that are already overwhelming us. Please!
I’m looking forward to Saturday, only so we can get the elections over and done with.  As Gandhi said, “The cause of liberty becomes a mockery if the price to be paid is the wholesale destruction of those who are to enjoy liberty”.
Advertisements
Comments
  1. Nas says:

    Hi,
    I totally agree with u abt the blame game nd also all the social network warriors need to stop inciting violence nd hatred. Muslims nd Christians are dead and dying. So for the love of God stop posting pix tht are not even related to d crises in a bid to feel among by also posting somtin. Some of us r in this hot spots nd our lives r at risk. For those who hav no idea what it feels like to be in d middle of it, let me share som witj u.
    .No light
    .No credit
    .No food
    .No water
    .No money
    .Don’t know what is happening
    .Scared shitless when som1 knocks at ur door
    .Jumping at every little sound u hear
    .Worried abt loved ones in other places
    Pls we hav only one country nd if we destroy it where would we go. Violence in the long run harms every1, be u christian or muslim or even pagan.

    Like

  2. Chief Sista says:

    FGS, I totally agree with you on the run-off election (girl, that wld be one for history). Praying for peace during this period…

    Like

  3. abdulnasir says:

    “And then we heard there were protests in Maiduguri, capital of Yola, a state in the North.”

    Maiduguri is the capital of Borno. Yola, is the capital of Adamawa. That said, nice post!

    Like

  4. ai says:

    Hmm, how Nigerian of you to think Maiduuri is capital of Yola State. Is yola a state?????
    Also Zaria and Kaduna, both in the north. Hmmm
    You try small sha.mm

    Like

Say something!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s