In 2015 there were general elections in Nigeria. They were adjudged to be free and fair, and there was a fair amount of innovation and novelty that was introduced. The smart card readers introduced to curb Electoral fraud were deployed and the peaceful way in which those were conducted were a massive plus for the country and earned it bragging rights in the African continent and in the comity of nations.
The way the incumbent conceded victory to the challenger was also unprecedented.
We were basking in the euphoria of it all and convinced ourselves that we had become civilized. Surely we would only move ahead, the Nigerian Electoral process could not retrogress at this point, or could it?
I had a number of my friends, intelligent people to boot, who had voted out the incumbent. Of course they were typically excited at where we were in our political evolution and the act of voting out an African President. In reality they were delirious, and so delirious were they that they began to wax lyrical about how they decided the elections with their PVCs and so would determine the 2019 elections the same way.
It sounded funny when they said it, but in retrospect it sounds completely infantile and comical. I should not be laughing because the 2019 elections were a tragedy.
Let me tell you the big tragedy of 2019.
All the gains we celebrated in 2015 in an incumbent handing over even when he had enough reasons to protest have been canceled.
We have returned to the era of writing results and burning ballot boxes. This was why the Electoral Bill was not signed and this was why the Chief Justice of the Federation was removed.
The novelty of the precedent set by an incumbent to deepen democracy has been nullified by the actions of a few.
The immediate repercussion is that the only “winners” from this process are those that hedged their bets over these elections while screaming from the start that they will be rigged. They stayed away, but they now have an argument that those of us that participated have proved their point, the point that our votes would not count.
The rest of us are all losers in this election regardless of whether it’s your preferred candidate that wins. I will tell you why.
You have lost even if your candidate wins because you are in no position to determine who will follow the examples you presently think you have benefitted from.
You have lost because no longer will people like me be able to convince family members and friends to join me from America, Canada, the U.K, and Australia in participating in the democratic process.
We have all lost because no longer will there be such a massive outpouring of people who are enthusiastic about and ready to contribute to the democratic process by standing for hours under the Sun and fighting for their PVCs and their rights to at least have their say even if they might not have their way.
When you deny Nigerians the rights to have either their way or their say in the likes of Sabon-Gari, Okota, and Abonnema what you have done is murder. You murdered a few people undoubtedly but there is something even more tragic; you have murdered faith in your country and conducted the funeral rites for hope in the process of the people to make their choice.
A youth corper I know personally who was one of the ad hoc staff in Nasarawa told me how thugs destroyed the ballot paper in her polling unit and in the polling units where her friends and colleagues were serving. Like it was in all other places mentioned above the people who wanted to vote for the opposition were not allowed to have their say.
You have lost because rather than being a witness to a credible process ensconced in genuine integrity and popular participation you have added your presence to the retrogression to the Wild Wild West where “might is right”.
Unfortunately you will soon learn that it is not only your preferred candidates that can shoot guns and cause havoc.
You have lost because you have witnessed the enshrining of Chicanery into an act. You lose even more when you ratiocinate this Chicanery as Integrity
You lose because in the final analysis you will end up crying harder than you are laughing right now, because in a very short while someone you loathe and a party you scorn will follow your play sheet and you will learn that subverting the will of others is the exclusive preserve of nobody.
Do not laugh, mourn because you have killed sleep….