Nigeria’s Elections: Our Tempestuous Past towards a Vacillating Future

Ms Omoh Giwa

By Omoh Giwa

Dear Chief Moshood Abiola,

I cannot feign to speculate your ascension to Celestial Abodes would have brought you peace even with our half-hearted commemoration of the June 12 saga considering the circumstances of your demise and assassination of your beloved wife. I must confess that when I recall your legacy, what comes to mind first, is not your business acumen, or the June 12 crisis or even Fela’sITT song but your perfidiousness and the numerous products of your entanglements. I am not trying to antagonise you but did you really think you could wine and dine with many devils and not get burnt? (It is alleged that you financed a coup)

‘Kashimawo’ Let us wait and see, a name given to a mystical child that delights in torturing its mother, a phenomenon Yorubas call Abiku. It is said that you have been “branded deeply on the breast” twenty-three times before you decided to stay yet our “charmed circles at your feet” were in vain as you were cut off in your prime.

MKO Abiola

Do you remember your campaign jingle: i tire for this life o, na so sopalava… no food, no work, no house, no light. You’d think we would have gone past these issues but our eyes have seen shege especially when you consider that we are being ruled by terrorist sympathisers who pay ransom to criminals.

I seem to be rambling as usual, but I am writing to discuss elections in Nigeria and their effect on our chaotic past. Elections have always been problematic in Nigeria particularly when you consider that technically, the civil war of 1967-1970 was as a result of the general elections of 1964-1965 and five idealistic but overzealous majors executing a coup followed by a revenge coup. Where in our history have we ever experienced peaceful elections? In 1983 when the election crisis began, guess who our usurping saviour was? Or do we consider the 1993 election violence (which could have been prevented if your comrade-in-arms hadn’t annulled the election), succeeded by an interim government that was shortly dismantled by your jailer and executioner?

Do not get me started on the rigging, ballot-box snatching, inflation of voting figures, intimidation, thuggery and assassinations that marred the 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015 elections (who killed Funsho Williams?) It thus comes off as ridiculous, when media reports and even academic papers tout the elections of 2011 as the most peaceful election of the fourth republic yet Human Watch records 800 deaths and the Nigerian Red Cross claims 48,000 persons were displaced in 12 states (are Nigerians that skewed in the head?).

You can imagine my horror at the jubilant reactions of Nigerians when noble and reformed violence-machine (who had promised to make Nigeria ungovernable for a certain administrator) emerged the victor in the 2015 elections and their prophesies of peace and justice in our imminent future.  I am grateful that Nigeria’s weakest president was strong enough to accept the controversial result.

I often wonder why people say your mandate was stolen. Stolen how? I have a theory, please hear me out. I think we say a mandate was stolen because we have viewed political service and government contracts as taking your share of the national cake. If not how do you account for the ‘do or die’ mentality of our politicians. You do not see first world countries behave in this unscrupulous, desperate manner (Trump does not count as he’s merely an obstinate child).

It seems to also account for the desperation and greed of Nigeria’s politicians because why would any sensible person keep applying for the same post after several failed attempts. (Please sir, I’m merely curious to know if Atiku Abubakar of SDP is the same one of ACN, PDP, and APC) You’d think our Olympus was Nirvana as I cannot understand this desperation (I will not join people in quoting a non-existent Abraham Lincoln perpetual failure). You should probably ignore my admonishment because if it can work for Violence FC who is merely a tenant in his federal home why should you be discouraged? (who is our Supreme Commander’s Landlord?)

I have completely digressed but there have been discussions on the electronic transmission of results and amendment of the Electoral Act that should put an end to the violence, rigging and tampering of results but like you, Sir, I am sceptical about its success.

I seem to anticipate the drama that will erupt next year when certain aspirants are denied their party’s ticket. You know the aspirant that was once VP and has been hopping from one bed to another, well I wonder where he plans to hop to if they do not give him the Umbrella ticket. I hope we still have a democratically elected president come 2023 and we do not denigrate to Military rule like Sudan. Can you imagine the impending tug-of-war between a godfather and his illegitimate son?

Our politicians have forgotten our past and seem to want to relive it at all cost as though once was not enough. They are like the man in Achebe’s Things Fall Apart who did not remember where the rain began to beat him and so couldn’t say where he dried his body.

Wish us well Sir.

Giwa of the Department of English, University of Lagos.

P.S. It is often said that ears that do not listen to advice accompany the head when it is chopped off.