Posts Tagged ‘Attahiru Jega’

A little intro before you read this. First off, I didn’t write it, my friend @ElohoOmame did. And boy, was it refreshing to read something overflowing with common sense, devoid of the hate young people (on all sides of the divide) are peddling in the name of voter education, calls to participation, etc. This was refreshing, and is a bigger incentive to vote than the tiresome rhetoric I’m now consciously blocking out of my mind.

Eloho is brilliant with this, simple, convincing logic, sentence after sentence. And I join my voice with hers, asking that you go out on the 28th of March and the 11th of April to vote the candidate of your choice.

Still ‘Undecided’? Here’s What I’d Like You To Know

Undecided isn’t good enough. Millions of us are counting on you. Please spend the next few days deciding whom you will vote for and be bold enough to see it through. Your vote is important, your vote is strategic and it would be silly not to use it. If you’ll bear with me, I’ll tell you why.

First off, if you are one of the lucky 56 million people with PVCs, give yourself a pat on the back. You are a guardian of the welfare of two other Nigerians that will not have a say in how our country is run for at least another four years. Think of yourself as ‘standing in the gap’ for two of your children, employees, friends or neighbours. To stand in the gap is a good thing; it means you speak on our behalf.

Remember also that there 17 million or so, like me, who live abroad for different reasons, but have left their hearts in Nigeria. There is no provision for us to vote. We add the burden of another half a person to each load. Think of us often. Remember you speak for three and a half people, including yourself.

But, if the last two presidential elections are anything to go by, the disappointing reality is that not all of you that who are able to vote will come through for us on March 28. My guess is that around 38 million people – 55% of the 68 million registered by INEC – will actually cast a vote. That means about 20% of Nigerians will speak for the 100%, because 18 million of you with PVCs will do nothing. You will forget the hard slog of getting the card in the first place and ignore its power.

Some of you will mean to vote, but be put off by the simplest inconveniences, like predictably poor logistics or the inevitable heat of the sun. The rest will give us three reasons.

The first group will say their votes don’t matter, “one vote won’t decide the outcome in the end”. And they would be right. If there could ever be an argument for apathy that I respected, this would be it. It makes rational, economic sense. The voting process is individually costly but not individually beneficial since the chance that any one person will cast the single deciding vote is close to zero. It would be silly to respond to this group then with statements like “what if we all didn’t vote?” That’s a close to zero probability event. Thankfully, 38 million people will.

Others will say that the process is likely to be rigged anyway, “it doesn’t matter what I want, the result has been fixed.” These are the classic free riders, and it’s tough to respect that. They are not happy with the status quo and are probably voters for the opposition (or they wouldn’t care if the process were rigged in the first place), but they will abdicate their responsibility. I am not saying that I believe Nigeria is now at the point where elections are entirely free and fair, but I am saying this group should give the process a chance. They are potentially very powerful as a unit but would rather sit at home speculating and sulking.

The last group will tell us that they are truly undecided, and so have no choice but to abstain. They are afraid to take a chance on an outcome that they cannot foresee; they don’t want to vote for a losing candidate, and are probably most in favour of those challengers with an outside chance. These people should spend more time with the most rational of the non-voters. If they did, they would take comfort in the fact that their individual votes will not by themselves change the outcome, and they might have the courage to back their convictions. With any luck, they’d come to understand that voting is not a lottery – it is not about guessing the winner – and that by staying away, they weaken the quality of our democratic discourse.

To the 18 million I say this: you have grown weary too easily. You forget that our democracy is barely 16 years old; the journey has not begun. You want to be inspired, to be rewarded with good leadership and good governance, but until then, you will not join us in the drab modalities of a democracy. Sadly, the promise we all want will continue to be delayed for as long as too few people are involved in deciding how nearly 200 million people are governed. We need many more to be invested in this process. We need you to do your part. We want to be inspired too.

So please vote, and vote wisely. The issues before us are clear and the choice is not easy. Ironically, the campaign slogans of both the PDP and the APC agree that the status quo is unsatisfactory. We debate the semantics of ‘transformation’ vs. ‘change’ and I am reliably informed that one is a point in time occurrence and the other is an impressive process. Politics aside, I understand enough to know that in either scenario the promise is the same – today does not look like yesterday and tomorrow will not look like today.

But, in reality today does not look different enough to where we were four years ago, so given half a chance, I’d give my vote to General Buhari’s government. For no reason other than it is time to go back to the drawing board. The Chinese say ‘if you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading’.

But, ultimately, I won’t have a say in what happens on Saturday. If you have a PVC, you can. Whichever way you lean, remember that your vote sends a message, you are luckier than millions of us with no voice and you stand in the gap for 2 and a half people.

You could use your voice to make a show of confidence in President Jonathan, to deliver a message of support for General Buhari or to give a word of encouragement to the phenomenal Remi Sonaiya. That’s your prerogative. Just go out and vote.

One of my favorite past times is ‘putting forward my strong reasons’ why a thing should go one way or the other, big thanks to my father who encouraged us to ‘defend’ (used very loosely) requests, e.g. a increase in our weekly allowances. Thinking about that particular episode makes me chuckle – the intensity with which I argued you would think I was trying to get myself off death row! Those were the days…

Some would say Nigeria is on death row – the economy is as distressed as the very definition of the word, Boko Haram is FINALLY losing ground but still wreaking havoc via suicide bombers, and in the words of a friend of mine, corruption has become a ‘come one, come all’ venture. Regardless of the giant strides this government might have made across board, everything pales when lined up against insecurity.

Now, there are currently 14 people put forward by the existing political parties in Nigeria, who say they have the answers to our problems; who say we should vote them in as President and Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. From ending the Boko Haram insurgency in one month, to running an inclusive government, to banning the importation of rice, the politicians are waxing lyrical, touring states and only stopping short of promising to raise the dead in exchange for our votes.

Beyond the ruckus and rhetoric our road tours are, beyond the hoarse voices and prostituting musicians hoping from one campaign trail to the other (h/t Etcetera), what do the presidential candidates have in store for us? Beyond the cleverly crafted documents and sexy presentations, where exactly are their minds? Stripped bare, without the music, what are these candidates about?

Now, we hear the Presidential candidate for the All Progressive congress General Muhammadu Buhari has said he would not participate in the Nigeria Election Debate Group NEDG-organized debate because the component organizations have been compromised. Exact words from Garba Shehu, of the directorate of media and publicity for the APC Presidential Campaign Organization said, “The boycott was due to the “unhidden bias and campaign of calumny by some key organisers of the programme, against the corporate political interest of the party (APC) and its candidates.”

Here’s a few reasons I gleaned off Twitter at the time and why I think none of them hold any water.

  1. AIT and co are government funded, partisan, pro GEJ, etc.” What is a debate though? Isn’t it men standing behind podiums and talking? How much influence can the partisanship of the medium airing the debate have? Will any of the parties not be allowed to speak? Their microphones will be turned off mid-sentence? What exactly, in a debate that will be aired lived and probably live streamed at the same time? Do we not know that Nigerians, who are suckers for the ‘underdog/victim’ narrative, will naturally gravitate towards whoever seems to be getting a hard time during the debate?
  2. “President Goodluck Jonathan refused to debate in 2011.” This particular excuse amuses me to no end. APC runs on one word, ‘change’, implanting it in the hearts and minds of supporters and opposition alike. Yet, the plan is to walk a path only because someone else walked it four years ago. Really?

And now, three questions of my own.

  1. What is the plan for the Sambo/Osibanjo (vice-presidential candidates for the incumbent and APC respectively) debate, which seems to be the more favorable idea? Will all purportedly partisan media be banned from attending?
  2. Should current and future presidents relinquish control over the Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria so they will truly be independent? That’s an obvious yes, ditto for our electoral commission; real question is would all the presidential candidates honestly be open to doing that?
  3. Why not just pass up on the elections as well, seeing as the Independent National Electoral Commission is government-funded and therefore purportedly/potentially compromised?

Final word. Nigerians have never been this interested in the elections and the one person to whom we will entrust our lives and living for the next four years. Every party deserving of our votes should be raring to go, seeking out every opportunity to reel out their plans to take Nigeria to where we need to be.

Dear handlers, let your candidates debate.

PS – this piece was written in November 2014, but never made it to my blog. The live debate on #RubbinMinds (available here) on the 8th of March was brilliant (both the idea and the event itself), and reminded me about it.


PPS – Originally published on Future Challenges.

So the London protests held on the 6th of January, largely organized by the Students’ Association of Nigerians in Diaspora, a body seeking to unite Nigerian students at whatever level of study in England. I think the body is necessary, and even though I wonder about the tenures of its leaders (since I assume they’d have to be students), this post isn’t about that.

A little background information/explanation; I got into London early, and just as I got on the Northern Line to Charring Cross (the supposed meeting point for the protest), my Blackberry went off, and refused to come on again, regardless of anything I did.  Then it started showing the error message that we BB owners dread. That literally meant I had lost contact with everyone, whether online or offline. And so this is a public apology to @Ynaija, their followers (and mine), and everyone else who expected me to tweet from the venue.

I found a phone store, dropped it to be fixed, and rushed to the Nigerian High Commission, where a little crowd had gathered. Was great to finally meet @RGAMeyer, and I must commend her for the work she did behind the scenes. Maintaining order, directing people to sign the petition, even helping with the litter, you rock Sisteh!

I also spotted @ogundamisi, @walegates, @DJAbass, @delemomodu, @futurekash (who I’d only met on Twitter a few days before); I also spotted a journo Twitter buddy whose name I won’t mention because I don’t think he’d want me to. But you know yourself, and you still owe me that introduction!

Big thank you to @4tega, who even though was meeting me for the first time outside Twitter, gave me his iPhone to tweet from. Thank you sir.

Ok, high points of the day? People were early! I think I should start from people showing up at all. If memory serves me correctly about 320 people signed the petition on the day; that’s a lot of people. Could have been more, but it was a good turnout. More impressive were the people who came in from outside London just to be a part of it.

So people came out; posters, banners, and placards of all shapes and sizes. Some of them were thoughtful, thought-provoking, add any positive word incorporating ‘thought’ to the list. While I was struggling to take pictures and tweet from @4tega’s phone, I saw two Nigerians nearly descend into fisticuffs over something I don’t even remember now. Made me smile, the nostalgia of people back home who’ll play at shadow boxing till their friends ‘hold them’. You can find the pictures I took here.

Back to the reason we were there; it soon degenerated to people taking pictures with celebs on ground, ‘occupying’ new babes, or making up new songs denouncing the government of the day. I  wondered for a bit if the Egyptians at Tahir Square had time to take pictures but hey, that’s just me.

At some point there was a lot of media present, an idea popped into my head and I spoke to the organizers about it; said this was a brilliant opportunity to hold a makeshift press conference and send out ONE message since it was obvious the Nigerian High Commissioner wouldn’t be coming out to address the protesters. There wasn’t any plan to that effect so that didn’t happen so when our allotted ‘protest time’ was up, we left.

Was it successful? Yes. We were there to lend our voice in solidarity with Nigerians at home, and lend our voice we did. A few things though…

Lessons from the protest?

  1. Have a plan. I wish I could say this in more languages than this, but in the name of everything good, have a plan! Strategize, prepare for contingencies, and have back up plans; what if A doesn’t happen, is there a B? Passion is the fuel that sees a well thought out strategy through….. it is never enough on its own!
  2. Whether we like it or not, where ever two or three are gathered, different agendas will be present. Gatherings will be manipulated by different people for different reasons; you make it easy for them when you don’t have a concrete plan of your own!
  3. Information is key. If you are not sufficiently informed (about anything), you will be swayed by ‘any wind of doctrine’. It was wonderful, the fliers the organizers distributed, educating people on the reason we were gathered there. I just wonder about the guy who in answer to my ‘why are Nigerians protesting’ question said, ‘they said we should protest’.

Mighty thank you to everyone who made it to the protests in London; your labour will not go unrewarded.

So I was looking through Facebook today, and I saw one article on the whole post election crisis in Nigeria that wasn’t inspired by hysteria, based on falsehood (whether partial or outright), designed to incite hatred, or full or ridiculous theories and postulations.

It was written by @elnathan, Abuja Based legal practitioner and writer. He’s a poet, writer (currently working on his second collection of short stories), blogger ( and enjoys attending literary readings and critique sessions. Most importantly, he is single!

I caught up with him (wasn’t difficult at all) and I’ve reproduced our discussion (uncut), and then the article that caught my eye….

ME: First question, what makes you different from every one else?

ELNATHAN: I think that we essentially share the same humanity and are all different shades of the same color. I like to think that people are essentially the same. Apart from my name and distinctive dark shade, there is little else.

ME: Three things you hate?

ELNATHAN: I hate reality shows, hair on my head, and men that abuse women

ME: Nice! I wish I could pick up on men abusing women but that’s not the thrust of the discussion for today…


ME: Where did you grow up?

ELNATHAN: Kaduna, U/rimi to be precise

ME: I lived in Kaduna myself for a bit, matter of fact I am told that I could speak Hausa fluently at some point in my life. What was growing up for you like?

ELNATHAN: Growing up was sometimes confusing, depressing, but was mostly regular boring stuff. Go to school, sneak out to play football, sneak to the river with my brother and pray that my father doesn’t catch us. It was depressing because I questioned everything around me and didn’t get any answers. I grew up faster than my age. I remember  at about 10 or so trying to force myself to imagine eternity, when I read about God not having a beginning or an end; I ended up with a massive headache. After those headaches I know better…

ME: lol! Do you still try to imagine eternity? What the after life holds?

ELNATHAN: Yes I still do, many times. I mostly imagine what it feels like to be dead…

ME: Now that’s not exactly a good line of thought is it?

ELNATHAN: Sometimes it is a necessary line of thought

ME: Do you think that people in Kaduna (and indeed other parts of the North) are thinking along those lines now?

ELNATHAN: I guess they would be thinking more about life than of death. A sad state of affairs, Kaduna; where humans strip themselves of humanity.

ME: According to your article, the trust the different cadres of people in the North had in their leaders has been eroded over time…

ELNATHAN: Yes, completely. The traditional institutions used to command so much respect and trust. These days people painfully aware of the betrayal of that trust on every level. Thus the leaders have squandered the goodwill they once had and are unable to be the stabilising force their positions demand them to be during trying and violent times like these. The political leaders have done nothing but loot the comm wealth and turned the political scene into a theatre of the absurd.

ME: In their minds, is Buhari’s loss at the polls an expression of that of that or is it a case of a sitting keg of gun powder exploding on relevant or irrelevant impact?

ELNATHAN: Buhari is the only one person in the entire sad equation of mistrust, mutual suspicion and injustice. Buhari’s loss at the polls was simply a trigger for the unleashing of a frustrated angry crowd of impoverished, uneducated people, whose condition is the result of a deliberate policy of Northern leaders to keep the people loyal and subservient to them.

ME: I asked that question because Buhari wasn’t necessarily popular in some pars of Nigeria, whether of his making or not

ELNATHAN: Buhari has long been a symbol in the North of clean politics, of integrity and of trust. He has a cult following in the North where people have lost hope in all their leaders

ME: What of other parts of the country? The other areas where he needed to win?

ELNATHAN: Well the unfortunate ethnic and religious divisions, deliberate misinformation, and dirty political propaganda has combined to make sure that certain parts of the country do not see Buhari as anything but a fanatical Muslim.

ME: I agree with that. Before I let my reader enjoy the beauty that is your article, if you had one wish now that were sure would be granted, what would it be?

ELNATHAN: Improved power supply in all parts of the country!


I have read many articles, intelligent and painfully ignorant, about the current crises, which any Northerner or perceptive observer could have predicted. I am neither shocked nor confounded by the riots and the killings.

I choose to ignore the ignorant comments especially from people who live on the other side of the Niger behind computers and blackberry’s who have no clue about the complexity of this ‘North’.

This crisis is a bit different in my estimation from the other mindless religious conflicts that have visited the north. For the first time in the North(especially the Muslim North), I heard young uneducated men expressing hope that for once there is a worthy man on the ballot; that at last their time has come. For the first time, there was actual trust in a person to whom they bequeathed all their dreams. This man was General Buhari. Anyone who speaks Hausa and knows the Hausa speaking people will know the importance of the concept of ‘amana’. Trust. It is the one thing that is cherished above most things in the Muslim North. It is not uncommon for you to meet a Hausa petty trader to give you goods without money or collateral, regardless of whether he knows you or not. In fact I still remember how my mother at the market in U/Rimi in the North of Kaduna city, would stop a Hausa motorcyclist (she always insisted on a Hausa man) whom she had never met, give him her shopping sometimes worth thousands and describe her house to him. She would pay him and not fret about the things reaching home. My mother always only bought meat from Hausa Muslims because she trusted that it would be fresh and that it was not a dead animal. In Hausa communities, shops would be left open when people went to say their prayers. Amana. Trust.

This is the trust that has been squandered by Northern leaders, notably in the past 12 years-members of the PDP led ruling class, and before that, military and traditional leaders. These Northern leaders have destroyed every level of trust given to them without questioning by their people. One man seemed to rise above all the filth, above all the distrust. They noticed his lifestyle. They didn’t see flashy cars in his drive way. They didn’t see his kids drive around town recklessly with loud music spending plenty money on their pre pubescent girlfriends. They didn’t hear scandals of massive overseas accounts. They met him at petrol stations. They saw an honest, straightforward, religious man. So when they went to the streets, they went first after their own leaders who had squandered this trust and those who they perceive had abetted them. Sadly, as with all mob actions, it provided the perfect cover for criminals, miscreants and those with sinister agendas (and there are plenty in this North- politicians, thieves and fundamentalists). So eventually, churches were burnt and innocent people killed.

However, the man is a Muslim and unapologetically so. He has not been afraid to express his ‘Muslimness’ in public. This alone is enough to constitute a problem in the North. For we are not one North. We are many North’s. There is the Muslim North. The uneducated rural North. The aristocratic North. The cosmopolitan North. The Christian North… each with its own interests and sometimes as different from each other as people from different countries. The marginalisation of minority groups in the North has also hurt Buhari who is seen as the face of the oppressor by at least some in the Christian minority. The countless religious crises have divided the North and created mutual suspicion, further highlighting the fact that the idea of a single united North is a myth. Some have suggested that Sardauna created one North and that we only recently created divisions. This is far from the truth. The facade which was One North was in fact a mix of dominant and dominated people, peace existing only because the quiet grievances of minorities like non-Muslims had not concretised into vocal movements for the exercise of rights. The Jos crisis is a classic example of the manifestation of decades of frustration among the minorities. That manifestation though reactionary is more than a knee jerk reaction. It is minorities paranoid about the increasing dominance of the majority and taking rash actions to hold onto power, land and resources in a region where the dominant sentiment among minorities is that if you are not Hausa Fulani or Muslim, you will be marginalised.

The decades of injustice meted out on Nigerians by their leaders have made eventual violent reaction inevitable. The many poisonous variables in our polity which have been allowed to interact under the lazy watch of Nigeria’s thieving political class have fixed themselves firmly in our polity. What we are now dealing with are just the early warning signs of a cancer that is malignant. Our mutual suspicions make us easy to exploit and set against each other, so that while we are fighting over whose god is bigger, our government loots the commonwealth. Where there is no justice there cannot be peace. An aggrieved man is many times an irrational man. It is wrong to always judge a reaction, which is unplanned, when you do not judge first, the action, which is planned. A reaction is many times worse than an action, for it is delivered without a sense of proportion, only a sense of wanting release. There is usually more passion in a reaction. He who sets a ball rolling should prepare to follow it wherever it rolls to.

This government has a choice. To move beyond its rigged landslide victory and actually give its citizens a semblance of justice. To move from the hawks that now have it by the scrotum, namely PDP party investors, and work for its citizens- give them roads, electricity and rule of law. To provide infrastructure and stop the massive looting of government resources that is now going on. Or. To oversee the early days of the disintegration of a Nigerian state that has miraculously held on for the past 50 years.

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”.

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”.

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Ok, this is one of those ’emergency’ posts. I say emergency because I’m writing to get over something that has really made me angry today, and I desperately need something to distract/take my attention away from it/the person before I do something silly. Writing for me has always been a good way of escape, same way some people would work out (I’m too lazy), or pound the wall with their fists/head (I have a low threshold for pain).

Ok, so it looks like I’ve been a little silent about Nigeria, our elections, and the stunts INEC has pulled in the last week or so. I haven’t been silent, I’ve just been drinking it in (whatever that means).

As the general elections draw closer (barring any more postponements), politicians are getting desperate to get more people to cast their votes in their favour. I won’t mention specifics but one of the aspirants to the National Assembly has been kidnapped, there’s chaos in one of the states in the South South following the arrest and slamming of  a treason charge on one of the governorship hopefuls, there’s a war of text messages, accusations and counter accusations in the South West, and even from very far away, the tension is almost palpable!

Who are you voting for? Why? Are you voting for that person because your friends are voting for him? Are you voting because you believe in the person? What is the place of their track records, integrity, and more importantly the company they keep? Whether we like it or not, the maxim ‘show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are’ is very true. You cannot be friends with murderers, thieves and scoundrels and not be impacted/influenced consciously or unconsciously.

As we go to the polls again tomorrow, let us remember that planting mango seeds and expecting to reap strawberries is sheer insanity. We know who we should vote for, for all the positions. Note that I’m not (I’ve not) mentioned any names, or endorsed anyone. I just want you to, with your vote, tell the truth.

I’ll leave you with a story I read that captures the essence of all I’ve just said…………enjoy!

Last week, I witnessed an amazing drama unfold as a politician tried frantically to convince my neighbour to cast his vote for a party. When the politician realized that his effort was getting him nowhere, he decided to use the power in his pocket. He brought out a bundle of N200 notes and dangled it in my neighbour’s face, basically the way you would dangle some bait to an animal you are trying to catch.

“How much is your vote?” he asked, with a deceptive smile on his face.

My neighbour hesitated for a moment, and then he grabbed a piece of paper and began to scribble down something. When he finished writing, he handed the piece of paper to the politician saying, “This is the value of my vote.”
The politician went through the paper briefly and then squeezed and threw it away, in my direction. He hurried away, saying that my neighbour wasn’t being rational.

My neighbour, realizing I was watching, picked up the paper and said, waving the paper at me, “Am I being irrational?”
I collected the paper and took a quick look at it. He had written on the paper the breakdown of his family’s expenses, which the government (according to him) had so far failed to provide or make available for its citizens. He then multiplied everything by four (4) years. Something like this:
Security – N20,000 per month x 12 months x 4 years = N960,000
Generator – N40,000 per 2 years x 2 = N80,000
Fuel for generator – N1,000 per day x 365 days x 4 years = N1,460,000
Potable water – N500 per day x 365 days x 4 years = N730,000
Healthcare Insurance – N10,000 per month x 12 months x 4 years = N480,000
Education – N5,000 per month x 12 months x 4 years = N240,000
Housing – N500,000 per year x 4 years = N2,000,000
Total – N5,950,000 (five million nine hundred and fifty thousand naira)

Realize the worth of your vote. VOTE WISELY.