Posts Tagged ‘Independent National Electoral Commission’

So the US election campaigns started about 18 months ago, and I’ll be honest and say I was largely uninterested in the debates, rallies, etc. until very recently. Of course there were the very many days the world was jolted by any of the inappropriate (inappropriate here also meaning scary, unacceptable, criminal, etc.) utterances from Republican Candidate Donald Trump either during rallies, interviews, in the locker room, pretty much everywhere. On those days I would be forced to catch up on the outrage, but that would be all.
Not because I don’t care who the next leader of the free world is, not because I don’t see the incredible importance and leap it would be for a woman to become the next president of the United States, but because my people say that “when a man’s house is on fire he does not bother about the fufu he had on the stove.” There was (still is) just too much “what on earth is going on with my Nigeria” going on to focus on what’s happening in the pond an entire continent away.
TV ads forced me to care. Stickers, posters, heck even conversations a little too animated forced me to join the US Election frenzy. With or without my consent, I’ve had to actively follow.
So, I’ve been in the US for the past 4 weeks now and the excitement/apprehension/tension is palpable. Not the Nigerian flavor of ‘we’re voting for x and y not because we know what they will offer but because our leader says to’, but the ‘we’ve listened to both (major) candidates, know their history and believe overwhelmingly that x is better than y’. Or maybe even that x is the lesser of the two evils, whatever personal reasons.  
It reinforced a thought that led to this tweet“Dear #Nigeria, when we’re done climaxing over the #USElection rallies, our candidates MUST debate in 2019. Anything else is unacceptable.”
I believe that tweet with all my heart, and I hope you, Nigerian, tax-paying, voter card-wielding, pledge-reciting, daughter or son of the soil who has followed the US Elections has been reacquainted with a love for oratory, a respect for facts and figures, an appreciation for the media (and the 2016 expression of the Social Responsibility and Hypodermic Needle theories), and a renewed belief in yourself as a citizen whose vote is worth more than screaming rallies without any substance.
Anything less than debates with concrete plans, economic policies that can be argued for or against, and interventions that directly impact the lives of Nigerians is unacceptable. No more platitudes, no more empty promises, no more roaring rhetoric. 
Our state and national representatives must clearly articulate their plans for us, the people they represent. We cannot applaud the levels of transparency we’ve seen in this election and be content with declarations of assets that end up being as vague as they are untrue.
We must elect representatives who will not subvert but uphold the Constitution, and indeed open up the black hole that the National Assembly budget currently is!
Sigh. Deep breath Chioma. Moving on.
I’ve also thought very deliberately about how technology has been deployed for these elections. I’m not referring to diaspora voting which ensures citizens all over the world are not disenfranchised, and sounds like a brilliant idea till you remember that Nigeria has not come close to perfecting our local, physical processes yet. We cannot guarantee votes cast by human beings we can see and touch (’see and touch’ excluding the era when we had Jamie Foxx and Michael Jackson on the list of accredited voters); yet we’re currently fascinated with diaspora votes. Maybe add that to the things we will blame next for inconclusive elections?
Anyway, I was referring to citizen-centered technology. Technology deployed to make voter education and the voting process as seamless and inclusive as possible. First from the government with the listings/helplines on social and traditional media, to parties and politicians constantly reminding the electorate why, how, and where to vote;  broadcast media and state-specific voting information, to the digital titans deploying doodles, stickers, and other ‘make it cool to vote’ paraphernalia for the electorate to perform their civic duty. No stomach infrastructure, sharing of rice, or bread, or corn; no ridiculous photos where fancy wristwatches meet extreme poverty, none of that mess. 
Anyway, it all ends in the next 24 hours. Those who didn’t already vote have until 8pm to get counted, with a collation and announcement devoid of candlelight, midnight miracles, meme-worthy drama, or any funny business. Governance should also start in earnest immediately after the swearing-in, not 9 months after. 
Quite frankly, these elections rank high on the list of things Americans should be ashamed of – the blatant mudslinging, disrespect for candidates/American History/the American people; the divisive nature of the campaign, the hate it’s inspired, ugh. Shameful.
However, for us, there is a lot to be learned, and I hope we’ve all been taking notes. 2019 is coming. 
PS: Originally published on Huffington Post

Day started ok; I woke up a bit earlier than others and got in some work out of the way (hello entrepreneur), and then I smiled through a very encouraging email from a former colleague. I also danced my way into 3000 steps before our first session. Can I just mention here that I’ve been on a fitness high since the 29th of April this year, and I can’t wait to show before and after photos of my work as soon as I hit my weight target? Whoop!

Back to the day, looking online there was news about Boko Haram continuing what seems to be a renewed onslaught in the North East. It seems to me like there has been one incident or the other since the 29th of May, like these insurgents are baiting, testing the President’s hand, want to see what he will do. I can’t wait for a reaction myself. One too many people have perished. One too many to be honest

Like I didn’t have enough trouble, my monthly visitor came through this morning, with the attendant cramps, irritation, turning me into the perfect grouch. Sigh.

We did something really fun in the session today though, simulated the postponement of the Nigerian elections. The class was divided into civil society, the press, party agents, and the general public, each group playing a different role. I was cast as Professor Jega, and had two guys as principal officers of the commission.

Before I even went through half of my arranged speech, my own ‘Orubebe’ surfaced, and didn’t stop disrupting proceedings periodically. Different questions kept on coming, I could barely take one before another came, my team was swamped, it was incredible. It was hilarious too, but very stressful, even though everyone knew we were just role-playing. It gave me brand new respect for Professor Jega and all the pressure he withstood during the elections. I also learned a few things from the feedback session afterwards

  1. Make more allies than enemies.
  2. Added to the three points from Mr Kaberuka, there’s a fourth leadership quality. And it is to let the people you’re leading know you care about them.
  3. Appearances in the face of challenges are everything. The more ruffled you appear, the easier it will be for people to have a go at you.
  4. Stay on the message. Focus. Pleasant or not, never forget why you’re in a place/doing something/passing a message.

We also talked about elections erroneously being referred to (and treated as) a periodically occurring event (like Christmas) instead of a never-ending process. Think about it for a second. It’s more process than an event right?

Let’s backtrack a bit and I’ll tell you about the gala held in our honor yesterday.

First we had Kie traditional dancers, a troupe that has been in existence for over 30 years and produced renowned artistes famous around the world. Their energy was everything! I made two videos. Sorry, three.

Then there was this young lady, beautiful singer with an incredibly powerful voice. Only snag was I couldn’t tell when she was singing in French, in English, or when she didn’t just know the lyrics to the songs!


Then it was food time, and the only thing I got from the menu as it was read out to us was ‘ndole’ which is a Cameroonian dish that tastes like egusi with ground nuts without palm oil. It would have been lovely if it didn’t have so many onions! There was also something that looked like couscous but is made from cassava. Not the best for this #FitFam life… Sigh.

I ended up with a bit of duck, a bit of lamb, ndole, cured meats, rice, and some chili. Of course I ate the rice and little else.

2015-06-11 22.49.09

2015-06-11 22.59.28

And then we danced!! Boy! I really enjoyed that! Music from across the region, in English and every other language, so much fun! I was sweating like I’d been in a steam bath by the time I got back to my room, but, I’d achieved over 10k steps so yippie!

Got into bed, and I was out like a light!

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.

Two weeks ago, I decided to take advantage of INEC‘s registration exercise to get a voter card. What’s all the activism for if I can’t vote? And so far, the chances that I will be in Nigeria during the elections in 2015 are very high.

So it was off to Government Secondary School in Lifecamp that Monday morning to get it done.

Got there about 8am, and if I had any sense, I would have known (from the crowd I met there) I didn’t stand a chance. I would also have known that heels on the day wasn’t the smartest idea. To be fair to myself though, I actually believed I would be able to get it done and then head off to a training I had fixed for past noon; looking back I’m sure even God must have been giggling at me and my plans.

9am and INEC guys still hadn’t come. There was no place to sit and my shoes were starting to hurt. People were gisting with the Police guys and promising them heaven on earth. Me? I was sipping lipton.

9.31am. INEC guys came in a white van, and as they were unloading their stuff a police truck came (siren and PSA included). A lady (whose appearance, voice, and intonation reminded me of Dame Peshe) announced that people who had registered before should leave or they would face the “full wrath of the law”. If I had a pound for every time I’ve heard that phrase in this our Nigeria I’d be super wealthy.

Anyway, noise warnings from the lady lasted another 20 minutes, and then the police truck left. By this time we’d been asked to write our names on a list so we’d be attended to.

The men seemed to get theirs done without a fuss, but we ladies had to have two separate fights over the order of names on the list. #CatFightTinz

One torn list and a few exchanged curses after, our list was sent in to the INEC guys and the wait began. About noon and no where getting close to getting registered, I left. Plus I had a visitor (and the attendant cramps) that demanded I leave and sort myself (forgive the TMI).

Got back about 2pm, and it still wasn’t my turn. Matter of fact, it became even clearer that it wouldn’t get to me. I chatted with various groups of people and apart from the INEC guys still dealing with lists they collected on Saturday and Sunday, I learned from more than one group that the police (who were at the doors to ensure people were orderly) were collecting money to facilitate quicker entrance to meet the INEC guys.

Still, I waited. Most of my day had been wasted anyway. I was content watching everything from a safe distance.

About 3pm, people started getting testy. Being the last day of the registration, with no extension in sight, people were agitated. The police started using belts and things to get people to disperse. Was really disturbing for me to watch for a number of reasons.

1. Ebola – as we all know, body fluids are a vehicle for the transmission of this virus. The sun was scorching so of course people were sweating. Some others were spitting (yuck), and a few others were cleaning out their nostrils on every inch of ground they could find. Now people were thronging, pushing, a few of them fell, it wasn’t pretty. Absolutely disgusting.

2. Whipping people. Really? Really? Why on earth? Do you blame the people for becoming restive when some of them had been there since 6.30am and then because some others who came about noon had ‘tips’ for the police, they got bumped to the top of the list for registration?

I spoke to one of the policemen whipping people, and the conversation is reproduced below.

FGS – Sir, it’s 4pm. Won’t it be better to tell these people what their options for registration after now are, instead of whipping them?

Police – Did you see me whipping anyone?

FGS – (A little shocked at his question) Yeah! I’ve been standing and watching you for the last 30 minutes. I feel like…

Police (cuts in) – You are making allegations against my person! I am an officer of the law! Do you know what we are doing here?

FGS – Yes I know you’re supposed to keep the peace, keep the people orderly, but you’re not supposed to whip…

Police (cuts in, super incensed now) – Did you see me whip anybody? If you talk too much I’ll take you to the station…

FGS (cuts in, a little ticked off) – stop spitting on me. And are you threatening me? Are you actually threatening me? (To be honest I was a little flustered, but I don’t know why I was smiling)

Police – You can write anything you want to write! I don’t care! I am an officer of the law…

FGS – (cuts in) This is not a productive conversation, you’re not listening to me, and you’re still spitting on me. (And I turned and walked away).

I tweeted.

Screenshot 2014-09-01 16.04.09

And yes, I took a picture.

2014-08-25 16.47.39Good thing was, he didn’t touch anyone else (least till I left about 5pm), and I caught him stealing glances at me from time to time.

No, I didn’t get registered.

The End.


First time Cheta introduced Sylvester to us at YNaija2015, I was just grateful for someone who was happy to travel and cover elections for us. We exchanged a few emails (on logistics, tasks, uninteresting stuff), and then he was off to Edo for the local government elections.

And then it was like a 300watts light bulb switched on inside of Sylvester once he got there. Show me ten men with excitement and passion for their work, and I would give you Sylvester. I think he came alive in a very special way just being on ground in Edo. He’s high up there on the list of my friends who become animated at the scent of anything political.

We talked a lot more after that, he was always quick to retrieve and verify information for me and spent one particular afternoon phoning up different people just because I asked for the elections calendar for local government elections around the country (a whole INEC doesn’t even have that, but that’s a totally different story).

For the farce that was the gubernatorial elections in Anambra, Sylvester outdid himself. Pictures, text (he would live-blog for each election), audio, and even videos, we didn’t lack for content at all. So much that when his laptop and phone died, he started texting me information! I remember he called me that night, miffed that they had been barred from entering the hall where the results were to be announced, and dogs had been set on them to scare them away. In all of the chaos, he said, “don’t worry Chioma, I will find a way to get in”.

When I saw on Twitter that he had been in an accident, on the same road that took Bankole Taiwo in 2012, I was heartbroken. I prayed to God, begged Him to have mercy, to save this one. I couldn’t be there to hold his hand; I wasn’t even allowed to speak with him any of the times I rang.

I was speaking to his wife on the night of the 4th, missed a call from Chude on my other phone. When we spoke, Chude said Sylvester was gone.  And I said no, that I had just spoken to his wife, and we had just believed God for a miracle. I don’t even know how to call her now, don’t know what to tell her. Words…words are so overestimated.

I never met you Sylvester, but I can imagine God needed someone to chronicle the happenings in heaven for those of us who aren’t there yet. And so even though we hurt, and our hearts are so heavy, we remain subject to His will.

I miss you Sylvester, we all miss you terribly.

Rest in peace, Sly Barzini. Je nke oma.



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How have you been? Good? Me too! A little stressed this past week but it’s been worth it. Every single minute of it! Let’s play like this; I’ll run you through a couple of things that I was up to, and you can tell me yours too. K?

For starters, I graduated last week! Masters in Social Media in the bag; whoop whoop!

Whoop whoop!! Thank you Jesus!

I’m grateful to God for the grace to finish, and for the provisions made available to me to study, and finish the course without any hitches. Oya o, direct your social media needs my way; I promise I’m affordable; will be the best value for money ever! I’m particularly interested in and offer

  • Bespoke social media solutions for start-ups, entrepreneurs, corporations, you name it….
  • Hands-on monitoring and technical support
  • Content development and production for radio and television programmes

What else happened last week? Err; apart from going to Heathrow from Birmingham (an approximately three-hour trip) like five times, I did a lot of writing, and writing I’m proud of. The previous week, I’d announced on Twitter that for a few hours I would accept requests from anyone to guest post for free on their websites. Quite a number of people responded, and so I did a lot of writing. I’ve handed in a couple of them, and they’ll be available on here in exactly nine days. That was one challenge I enjoyed, and will repeat soon. Follow @chiomachuka  so you don’t miss out!

Got a phone call about 4.50am on Sunday, a friend called to tell me Whitney Houston was dead. When she hung up, and I had checked to be sure I wasn’t in any way related to Whitney Houston (why else would someone call me that early just to give me bad news), I went on Twitter. Against my wishes/hopes, Whitney Houston had passed on; she was found in the bath of her hotel room by her bodyguard. At forty-eight? Death really has no shame. Who hasn’t been touched by Whitney’s music? The minstrel with 415 awards, the highest by any single musician according to the Guinness Book of World Records; what gave her the right to die?

Of course, conspiracy theories sprung up as to how, why, and who to blame for her death. From drugs, to her husband Bobby, to depression, every option was explored. Her voltrons were on duty as well, and at some point it was almost laughable.

This is what I think: Whitney Houston is a legend, even more in death, one of God’s greatest gifts to music of our time. Larry King said, “All of her life was in her voice”, and even that didn’t quite capture the greatness that was Whitney. She was beautiful, strong, and was all about the music, rather than the sex symbols our musicians are today. But, she was a drug addict. There’s no loving way to say it. All the love, admiration, and respect we feel for her won’t change that so let’s call a spade a spade and not a dessert spoon. As my friend said,

I would to God she’d said no to the first sniff, whiff, ingestion or whatever of drugs. And my heart goes out to her husband Bobby and daughter Bobby Kristina, who themselves have struggled/are struggling with drug abuse. And for her mother who at some point forced her into rehab, I pray God in his infinite mercies comforts you.

To everyone else, “the things we have seen are for our instruction”. Almost in succession, legends have killed themselves, by themselves. Amy WinehouseMichael Jackson, Whitney Houston; I found a pretty long list on a blog of celebrities who have passed thanks to drugs. How many more deaths do we need? Won’t even start on our leaders who are drug users, especially since I plan to visit Nigeria soon (yes this is fear).

What else happened? Err, so Zambia beat Ivory Coast with eight goals to seven (penalties o, was goalless at full-time) to clinch the African Cup of Nations. Yay them! Can’t be bothered, I do not like football. Apart from the fact that footballers make vulgar, almost insane amounts of money (yes, this is beef), I don’t see how the sport that ‘united the world’ is one in which 22 grown men chase a ball. And spit on the pitch. And then fall in that same pitch. Yuck! Triple yuck!

Finally, Serikae Dickson was returned as Governor of Bayelsa State on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP. Dickson was adjudged the winner of the votes having polled a total of 417, 500 votes out of the 467,004 votes cast, representing 89% of total votes cast in the elections that held on Saturday.

That’s it, pretty much the things that interested me this past week! What’s your story?

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Your Excellency, top of the day to you. Especially since it looks like you’re the only one who’s having/has had a good day. Maybe you and Reno Omokri, and anyone else you wish to add to that list. Did you have a nice Christmas? I hear you did, hear you were dancing your heart out in appreciation to God for a ‘brilliant’ year while Boko Haram sent families in various parts of Nigeria for early meetings with their Maker. Lest we all forget, you are the Commander-in-Chief of this Nigeria. Not the Nigeria portrayed in some Western movies as a clan of naked, muttering ‘closer-to-apes-than-humans’ Nigeria, the Nigeria that is the 1oth largest owner of crude oil. Yep, that one.

I had a nice Christmas too, spent mine at church. Got home to find my house burgled. In the UK? I can hear you ask. Yes Sir, even in England; crime has no nationality. But guess what? The Police were at the house within twenty minutes of us placing the 911 call, and forensics about an hour later. They’re even offering us emotional support, seeing how traumatized we were from the incident. Now while as the days go by I lose any hope of getting back the things we lost, you and I wouldn’t want me to replay what the scenario would be if this happened in Nigeria, or would you Sir?

Enough of the digression, this letter is to talk to you about the sudden removal of the subsidy on PMS, also known as fuel. Why? Who lied to you? Which Ahitophel (2Sam16:23) has deceived you, filled your head with lies on how Nigerians will love you for removing the subsidy on fuel? Flip that, what did you reward this ‘counselor’ with?

I know you live in Aso Rock, shielded from the realities everyday Nigerians face but I’m sure even you have heard there is no electricity. Since you came into power, I’m sure you would have noticed the exodus of industries because of the harsh business environment. Even if you didn’t notice, one of the stooges you’re surrounded with should have at least hinted, even if in jest. Those that choose to remain are faced with struggling to stay above water, balancing their books at the end of the month because they run their offices on generators (and fuel), coping with the ill-taught, semi-baked graduates our poorly funded/managed universities produce, and still trying to offer their products and services at reasonable prices.

I heard about the ruckus around fuel subsidy, all the discussions, meetings, etc. Well done! Truth is Sir, I am in favor of the subsidy removal. Are you surprised? Don’t be! Truth is, a whole load of us are in support of the removal of the subsidy because come to think of it, we can do a lot with the $8billion (£5.2million) that will be saved from the removal. A few questions however:

1. What has been done with the monies saved from the subsidy removed from diesel about three years ago? I know it wasn’t done in your time but surely you would have reviewed the document to know where to channel this subsidy you’re going for? I’ve seen the document containing what your government plans to do with the subsidy but honestly Sir? I don’t believe a word of it. I’m sorry.

2. How do you expect your people to survive? When some States haven’t fully implemented the N18,000 minimum wage? How does fuel move from 65 to 141naira overnight? How does a bag of pure water move from 80 to 170 naira overnight? How do transport prices more than double overnight? “To serve our fatherland with love and faith and strength”……how do we serve if we are hungry, if we are crippled by poverty brought on by ‘Subsidy Removal’?

3. Subsidy removal is a process that takes years to implement fully, Ghana started theirs in 2004 and finished a few days ago. Iran offers lessons on how to remove subsidies and not hurt the poor. Whoever told you all it took was a press release?

Culled from Linda Ikeji’s blog. A Nigerian, before Reno wakes up again.

At this point I must say there is some evil in all of us because you did what you did on the 1st of January, and both NNPC and private fuel station owners changed their prices (on old stock) immediately. Why? Even I don’t have an answer to that.

On to more pressing issues (because we are running out of time on that one), what’s the deal with Boko Haram and their ultimatum to Christians to leave certain parts of the North in three days? Who is this Abul Qaqa? Nom de guerre of course but is Mr President telling us he can’t be found? Seriously? So how does he reach the media each time to claim responsibility on behalf of Boko Haram for bombings, the destruction of property, and most importantly, the snuffing out of lives? Mr President where is the decisive action there? Calling a state of emergency? What does that achieve? I want you to get angry Sir; their ultimatum was issued in response to the state of emergency you called. You are the President of the most populous black nation on earth, Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria! Are you just going to let them walk over you like that?

Mr President, I know that deep down, you are a good person. I know you have a heart, and you do not want Nigerians on the street, at the mercy of the animals nicknamed the police, there are already reports of the Nigerians you swore to protect being shot at by the animals Police . So do the right thing, the logical thing. Reverse this subsidy removal (which was fraudulently done I hear), and then let’s talk.

P:S – And honestly Sir? I think you should lose Reno.

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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