One Vote, Many Bullets


Tunde Asaju

By Tunde Asaju

Monitoring the shambolic electoral attempt in Kogi last weekend reminded me of the evolution of the Buhari government. An attempt it was because nobody in his right frame of mind would define the charade as an election. The evidence is everywhere, on social and mainstream media;in the report of national and international observers and of course, the worst of it, the number of dead and injured. There was no election in Kogi. There was war. A war between the tested ideals of democracy and kakistocracy failing its every attempt at mimicking the concept of the universal definition of one man one vote. The charade in Kogi was one vote many bullets.

I had to wait to read the president’s take on the process. If there is any shade or iota of doubt that the president is totally not in touch with the people he governs, it was his statement. In it, he congratulated Yahaya Bello, INEC and the security agencies! There is no further evidence to show that PDP might have murdered democracy, President Buhari’s APC has come to bury democracy as we know it. The joke is on the citizenry if they accept it.

In spite of the lockdown and 35,000-armed guards, eleven people died in different parts of Kogi State. Yet, not a single arrest has been made, except of those, including INEC officials who were kidnapped either before or during the process. This is daylight robbery and rape on the will of the people. It is the final nail on the coffin of truth that INEC under Mahmoud Yakubu has no understanding of free and fair polls. It is here to do the bidding of the executive. Unfortunately, the final arbiter, the judiciary is to a large extent in the pockets of the executive. Welcome to the state of anarchy.

Sadly, it wasn’t that long ago, that President Buhari was shedding tears after he was robbed of a fair electoral process. A bemused Buhari is now in the saddle, elected to make things right, but what do we have? We have the Rehoboam Complex in which the PDP chastised the nation with scorpions and the APC is chastising us with puff adders.

How anybody could even continue to count votes except in Kogi after the carnage beats any rational imagination. Fairness had no definition here. The headquarters of a political party was burnt to the ground without a singlearrest. Not even the lame duck promise of investigation.

The President’s emissaries, Nasir el-Rufai and the president’s wife, Aisha were in Lokoja, begging Kogians to forgive Bello. No solidarity with Natasha Apoti who has been victimized so many times during the process. At least, begging was tacit admission that the APC candidate did not deserve a term of his own. He squandered the goodwill of the court that turbaned him. But now he has his true first term.

The president sent a note to the National Assembly to have N10billion released to an unaccountable government barely 24 hours before election. This is official bullion to pay for the purchase of votes where, only stomach infrastructure could make hangry people sell their thumbprints for a pot of soup. The price for an APC vote ranged between N500 and N6,000 according to election observers who agreed to speak on tape! There goes APC’s free and fair!

Unprecedented carnage was unleashed on those who would have given Bello and the APC a bloody nose. From Okunland through Igalaland via Ebiraland to Lokoja the state capital, helicopters and sustained gunfire were used to scatter perceived rebel voters. How did a president who shed tears for injustice justify such against innocent people?

We all know that APC is PDP and vice versa. The evidence is there in Bayelsa where, electoral violence and horsetrading brought down a PDP government. A favourable judgment reversed one that would have truncated the process. Hours after Seriake Dickson fell eight state lawmakers, 11 commissioners, six local government chairmen and 83 councilors were reported to have dumped the PDP for the new bride, the APC.

The concept of might is right does not advance democracy. It tarnishes what is left of our image in the comity of nations. It institutionalizes shame for those who carry their green passports with unqualified pride. It shatters the ego of those Nigerians trying to raise the profile of their country. It brings out that painful rhetorical question that characterizes every beautiful presentation – you are so brilliant, how come you guys leave your country for idiots to run?

With this endorsement, we have laid the foundation for a future where armed robbers take people’s goods at gunpoint; display them in the public square for a presidential medal of bravery. Integrity doesn’t act this way. Integrity removes the log from its own eyes, so that it could have the moral right and clarity of vision to ask another to take off the speck from theirs. Integrity doesn’t stand behind a thieving son; it shows to the world that the pride of a good father is in heir that strives hard to keep the family name. The family may have money, but if the mention of its name makes others snigger, it has lost its most priced asset.

– Tunde Asaju, journalist and social critic, writes from Canada