By Casmir Igbokwe

NEWSDAILYNIGERIA: Nigeria’s so-called power brokers may continue to have their way with regard to who becomes President or governor. But, the Nigerian masses will always have their say. The abracadabra called the 2023 general election has come and gone. Rather than allow Nigerians to lick the psychological wounds inflicted on them by the rigging machine of the ruling party, President Muhammadu Buhari has continued to rub mud on their collective faces.

Penultimate week, the President gloated about the questionable victory of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), at the 2023 general election. He told the Progressive Governors Forum that while the APC worked hard to retain power, the opposition parties lost because of a combination of overconfidence, complacency and bad tactical moves. “They were already telling their foreign backers that they would defeat the APC. Our party blended confidence with caution, we worked hard and won. Now, their overconfidence is creating more problems for the opposition than anyone else. They are finding it hard to convince those who supported them from outside why they are unable to beat us,” he said.

This is absolutely preposterous! Mr. President, most Nigerians know how the APC’s ‘hard work’ manifested. It showed in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) refusing to upload the election results of the presidential election to the INEC portal real time. This ‘hard work’ propelled the thuggery, threats, attacks and resultant disenfranchisement of non-indigenes and opposition party supporters in a place like Lagos. It manifested fully in the changing of figures and mutilation of election results in favour of the ruling party in places like Rivers State.

Incidentally, some of the stalwarts of the ruling party have not relented in provoking ethnic tension in some places in order to create confusion for political gains. It is on record that the Director, Media and Communications of the Bola Tinubu Campaign Organisation, Bayo Onanuga, cast ethnic slurs against the Igbo in the name of politics. It is on record that some markets populated mainly by the Igbo in Lagos were vandalised soon after the elections. Even some baales (traditional rulers) and a school in Lagos joined in the APC’s dangerous political game to snatch victory at all costs. Local and international observers merely told us the election was greatly flawed and moved on.

See also  Restructure Nigeria Before We All Die

Politicians can always push out false narratives to suit their selfish interests, but truth remains constant. It never changes and will never change. And the truth remains that Buhari and his party deceived Nigerians into believing that the 2023 election would be a watershed in the history of the country. On assumption of office in 2015, the outgoing President said he was for everybody and for nobody. We clapped for him, oblivious of what lay in store for us. Shortly before the elections, he said Nigerians were free to vote for any candidate of their choice. We hailed him. He added that security personnel had been mobilized to deal with anybody who might attempt to cause trouble during the election. Some of us said, “Hurrah! Our messiah has finally come!”

How myopic we were! We failed to see through the deceit of the cabal in Abuja. We failed to see the thin line between reality and the false hope which the electoral umpire gave us. INEC assured us it had the antidote to rigging. It promised to deploy the latest technology to counter election manipulators. The Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) was touted as the game changer. We were happy.

But, we never knew we were living in fool’s paradise! Buhari, who asked us to vote any candidate of our choice without fear or favour, was the first to break one of the provisions of the amended Electoral Act which he signed in 2022. He voted and waved his ballot paper to show the whole world, especially INEC, that the APC was the party the power brokers wanted. INEC probably understood the message and has been cooperating since then.

See also  Christmas And New Year Message From Manna Family

Despite the protests that trailed the election, for instance, the umpire declared APC’s presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, winner of the presidential election at an ungodly hour on March 1. What followed was, “if you are not satisfied, go to court.”

Of course, the main opposition parties have gone to court. But the same people who asked them to go to court have not allowed them to drink water and drop their cups. The candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi, for instance, has had to undergo different trials and tribulations on account of his principled stand to pursue his case in court. There have been overt and covert moves to force him to abandon his case at the tribunal. But he has remained resolute in pursuing what he believes in.

For now, Nigerians are fixated on the tribunal. The case will most likely get to the Supreme Court. But, no matter how it ends, one thing is certain: the APC has destroyed the little confidence some of us had in the electoral system. After all said and done, if there is no conscious effort to reform the electoral and political system, the ruling party may later discover that its members and supporters may be the only people coming out to vote in future.

My unsolicited advice to Buhari is to talk less and prepare to go for his retirement in Niger Republic, his favourite country. His eight-year rule is an unmitigated disaster and about the worst in the history of Nigeria. His reign witnessed an unprecedented inflation, which rose from the single digit of 9.0 per cent in 2015 to 22.04 per cent as of March 2023; high debt burden, which rose from N12.12 trillion in June 2015 when he took over to N44.7trillion as of December 2022; two economic recessions; unfavourable exchange rate; high rate of unemployment conservatively put at 33.3 per cent; and acute hunger, with 133 million citizens living in multidimensional poverty. Corruption, profligacy, nepotism, ethnic and religious bigotry as well as high rate of insecurity have all wrapped Nigeria in a sick cloth.

See also  Those Scarry Eyes On The Judiciary And Justice

Our democracy is on trial. Our political party system is on trial. An opportunity we had in the last general election to change our negative narratives in leadership was truncated by the same cabal who have held Nigeria hostage for decades. If care is not taken, Nigeria may end up a one-party state. And once that happens, what we will witness is civilian autocracy at its worst. Let’s pray it never gets to that level.

..Published in the Daily SUN of 8th May, 2023.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here