By Bayo Fasunwon
In Nigeria, two events are often accompanied by frenzy, palpitations, gambling, and unrest. These two events always have the same output – the active players get to eat the gains of the events, while the discussants, onlookers, analysts, and supporters are often rewarded with the psychological satisfaction of being supportive of the winners. While the opponents in the events share the booty of participation, Nigerians who contributed to their success, even to the point of death have little or nothing to show for their hypertensive followership. The two events are elections and the game of football. Nigerians are ready to go to war over who is the best between Messi and Ronaldo, just as they are eager to shed blood in their comparison of Muhammadu Buhari and Atiku Abubakar. The focus of discussion on these events is limited to the challenge between those who wish to be Atikulated and those who clamour for the experience of the next level.
This year, the political campaigns have been exciting and full of awe. Disasters have been averted when the President missed his steps and nearly fell at rally. The opposition went agog politicizing normal event. Then as if by the law of Karma, the opposition’s platform fell twice seemingly enveloping the campaigners like the red sea swallowing the Egyptians. The social media went berserk with different spiritual, political, and socio-economic interpretation of the fall of the mighty, and arsenals were thrown at both sides. Just behind the clouds, the helicopter conveying the Vice President landed on its side, but the nation was delivered from national mourning. That event too was politicized. APC blamed PDP of lack of maintenance of the helicopter, while PDP wanted the APC to see it as a sign that the gods have rejected their party and candidates. The Church used the event to show the world that God indeed answers prayers, while Nigerians were quick to conduct a naming ceremony for the Vice-President who became known as Professor Pastor Yemi Ojabokofo (he that fell but did not break) Osinbajo.
Next came defections, rejections, and endorsements. Our activist Oby Ezekwensili dropped from the race, and her party in retaliation gave their support to President Buhari’s four plus four equation. The courts brought confusion to SDP, and they like Solomon decided to kill their Presidential slot, and gave it o Buhari. The witches and prostitutes held their national congresses and decided that Atiku should be supported, while the Afeniferes, Myetti Allah, Ohaneze, PANDEF, Church leaders, and many organisations took a split on whom to pitch with. Not done with the political drama, a Vice-Presidential hopeful confessed of making his family business a beneficiary of State funds, when he was a governor; a Presidential candidate confessed of mistakenly selling a billion dollar national investment for a paltry sum; just as the President forgot when he was sworn into power; another Presidential candidate got admission into the University in 1999 and graduated in 1995. These fulfilled Fela’s prophesy of ‘Confusion breaki bone, yeepa’
The clone theory of President Muhammadu Buhari has been replaced with the Cameroun theory of foreign indigene ship of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. While the former had removed his cap to prove his originality, the latter keeps electorate waiting for the removal of his trousers to prove Nnamdi Kanu wrong. Pictures showing crowds and scanty stadia have eaten deep into peoples’ megabytes on social media, and foreign countries and international bodies have expressed concerns and are being threatened with undue interference in sovereign Nigeria’s internal affairs.
By this time next week, the theatre would be getting to conclusion. The election of the President and National Assembly would have been decided, and many Nigerians would be armed with calculators and transistor radios to hear the aftermath of the roles they played in Nigeria’s theatre of politics. Before then, Nigerians have focused more on the Presidential seat, downplaying the other essential arm of government, the Legislature. While the President seems very important in the determination of the nation’s destiny, the legislative arm of government are strategically placed to promote or thwart the intentions of the executive arm of government. As Nigerians go to the polls, it would be advisable for them to cast their votes strategically for the executive and legislature candidates to promote harmonious relationship that can guarantee the change in the quality of life of the people. February 16 would be a test of conscience. Money and materials meant to induce voters would flood the streets, homes, and suburbs. ‘Vote and cook soup’ syndrome would be in the airwaves as the sales of pants for Benz, Nigerians by now ought to have known that vote buyers are business men whose profits are of more importance than the welfare of the voters. I wish for once that Nigerians would shun the meat of Jacob and vote according to their conscience and convictions.
Furthermore, a recurring decimal in Nigeria’s election is voters’ apathy. The apathy begins with the refusal to collect the PVCs that they have weathered the storm to register. As at today, millions of Nigerians have refused to collect their voters’ card. It is amusing to know that many of those who rant and fight on social media and multitudes that attend political rallies and gave encouragements to contestants do not have voters card. INEC had reiterated that no one would be allowed to vote without the PVC, so the onus is on every one to arm himself with his power to choose – the Permanent Voters’ Card. The second group are those with their PVCs safely kept for future purposes (recruitment, opening of bank accounts, BVN registration and identification), but would not use it for its real purpose – voting at elections. In Nigeria’s history of voting, this group of people is close to sixty percent.
These sixty per cent, of which you may be one are responsible for inconclusive elections; rigging, bad governance, and impoverishment. Election is a game of numbers; a single vote may decide the enthronement of an angel or a demon. Given that the election procedure has been modified to save time, once you are accredited, you cast your votes. I enjoin all Nigerians this time around to go all out and cast their votes. There are however, the third groups of people who vote, but whose votes do not count. At the point of voting or folding their ballot papers, the ink had crossed the line, giving them two prints of different political parties. Parties should go beyond campaigning for votes to educate their ardent supporter on how to vote with their index finger and fold the ballot papers neatly in order to avoid vote losses. All eligible voters should troupe out to vote wisely for the candidates of their choice. Vote so that those the cap fits can wear them. Vote along the lines of persuasion and convictions. Remember that your index finger would determine your future for the next four years.
Now, a clarion call goes to INEC to live above board and shun every temptation to promote rigging in any form. In addition, all security personnel should ensure the safety of voters, candidates, and INEC staffs before, during, and after the elections. I also pry to God almighty, that at the end of these elections, let them whom the caps fit, wear it.