History would forever be benevolent to the apt words of the late literary icon, Chinua Achebe, with which he used to describe the Nigerian state.
In his words, “Nigeria is a child, enormously talented, prodigiously endowed and incredibly wayward”. These words encapsulate in its totality the situation of the Nigerian state.
The twenty years of a supposed democracy didn’t create a near utopian ambience in the country as it has done in our sister countries, the alarming insecurity in the country during elections still scare life out of people’s bones and most masses still sacrifice their rights to vote on the altar of the naira.
The votes of eligible voters have long lost its voice, and in the long run, we see that democracy in Nigeria has never been the government of the people, neither has it been by the people nor for the people. So obviously after near twenty years of democracy we have remained incredibly wayward.
The echoes of the travesty of February, 2019 general elections, which left many people nursing their wounds is yet to die out, but this in anyway didn’t stall another show of shame from stealing in.
The just concluded gubernatorial elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states and the senatorial election in Kogi state starring Dino Melaye and Smart Adeyemi, held on the 16th of November, 2019, say it all, that the road to the Promised Land is still very far.
The elections in both states brutally scraped off the last vestiges of what one could have held unto to call Nigeria a democratic state. This is evident in the massive rigging noticed in both state. The vote in both states were in shambles, ballot boxes were snatched in most polling units in Kogi and Bayelsa.
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Thugs arrived polling units with sticks and machetes to send voters scampering for their lives. For instance, staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had to abandon polling unit 001, in Asuta ward, Kabba/Bunu Local Government Area of Kogi state, after thugs descended on them and beat them blue-black.
In riverine Bayelsa where access to most polling units is by boats, thugs scared everyone in sight, carted away ballot buses and disappeared into bushes, while sending electoral and police officers scampering for their lives. In some polling units, compromised police officers aided and abetted the rigging in public glare.
The above scenario is a pulsating effect of years of dirts that have ceremoniously been swept under the carpet. This had ended up creating political leviathans. Thus leaders neglect their duties and play ducks and drakes with the common wealth with no one bringing them to book or questioning them. They operate as though on a carte blanche and deal with the people according to their whims and caprices.
This creates apathy within the electorate who begin to be so unconcerned about their government, or who takes this or that post. This makes it very possible that during elections, the man with the ideas doesn’t win but the man with the cash, because the electorate wouldn’t have ideas for food, so something as important as electing a leader to drive a state forward is left at the mercy of the highest bidder.
This points to a deeper problem of Nigerians, which is hunger, so election now becomes, who can put food on the table. A clear indication that for years the citizens of this country have been starved of good governance, so like a drowning man, they reach out for anything to hold onto so as to keep body and soul together.
The only way forward is going back to the drawing board to redefine what is meant by democracy, and what it should mean for us as a nation. Only that this time its definition wouldn’t just seat on a board or on the pages of a book but would equally walk the streets, so that people will see it and have faith. For people lose faith when there is nothing to hold onto, when there is no progress to keep the flames of their faith alive. For this to work also, the principle of rule of law shouldn’t be content with just being a noun but equally a verb, a doing word. If we do our work patiently and well, and given luck, then a generation will come that will call Nigeria father or mother. But not yet.