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In Nigeria Money Votes Not The People
Author: Barr. F.A, Onukwuba, KSM.
Published on: Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The much-talked about general elections have come and passed. It has been won and lost, with fortunes hardly two of a kind, as we settle down to count costs. As a result of the changing fortunes, moods are markedly different. In any case, one common concern appears to be showing, concern about the ever waning comfort and convenience of our youths, so much so that it has become a concerted attempt to right the wrongs done by all the parties in the Nigeria political world, to our innocent youths. Indeed, this situation so vividly throws up the ugly matter of corruption, which has left very little, or nothing, in government coffers, to lay out for their welfare. This then is the bane of the nation.

            Generally, the elections, in the main, have been adjudged free and fair, by foreign observers, and the many participants, who have chosen, for want of dignity to close their eyes to happenings on the ground, that sufficiently smear the contest with dirt. This is simply a shame, and those that ought to know, can, and with diligent of even causual in probing, should have been so informed. But instead, it has remained as everything Nigerian, and the people, depending on their moods, have either acquiesced or kept by the touch line simply to complain.

            And so, with the uncertain performances, so far recorded, and barring violent clashes that showed to the open, the nation is settling down to another round that will bring the law courts into the complicated disputes for which the ground has been laid; forum, where plausible considerations will suffice to tie loose ends, but which process may not necessarily help to put the nation at rest. Therefore, the unresolved malady, the cruel lost for power and wealth, the recklessness of decorum of the average Nigerian, the utter disregard for justice, the sum total of all that work together to corrupt our minds, and which have remained in focus through our political journey since the day of independence and continues to plague the nation but our prayer is that these infractions should have to stop, so that the people of this blessed country may start to learn and practice democracy in theory and in deed.

            So, notwithstanding, that in the look of things, the nation appears to be in relative calm, going by the inconclusive verdict of observers, obviously reached ‘per incuriam’ as lawyers would put it, that is, without proper reference, thus leaving the populace more confused, we must not make the mistake of taking things for granted, but act quickly, in the realization of the hopelessness of the true situation of hate and acrimony pervading the whole nation, and act quickly to obviate the pending doom. This is the basic reality from which the long winding journey to democracy should this time, take off.

            The President-elect has kept warning that corruption should henceforth take the back stage, and has made his feelings the pillar of his campaign message, promising not to spare any defaulter. We shall have no reason for not taking his seriously . therefore, we can now be sure that we now have someone to lead us out of the woods, provided we would cooperate and encourage him.

            In this connection, I would quickly point out that the worst misdeed in the category of corruption is election malpractice, which is sometimes called rigging, which our people have, this time, accepted as ‘legitimate’ election strategy and now practiced with abandon, and which is the vista that opens the door to more articulated forgery and stealing. This must be very seriously addressed immediately; so as to keep our legs steady on ground.

            Unfortunately, what happened during these latest elections, was a big disgrace to a country that has been looking forward to embracing democracy, or so it may seem. At this stage, I will warn that in approaching this issue, our leaders must learn to treat Nigerians as a special case. Nigerians, we should realize, simply enjoy breaking laid down rules, sometime for fun, at other times, to achieve an advantage by any means, even though they know that the end will be disastrous. This is Nigeria, and this is a wonderful case to treat. In any case we are Nigerians and have no other country. Therefore we must stay and iron it out.

            I must state without equivocation that it is because of the ramifications of corruption in the country that the youths stand so neglect, even to the stage of now pushing them to revolt, but let us pray that this would not be. In any case, we shall be wise to learn from the situation currently in South Africa; the revolt against non-natives upon which the youths, in that country are venting the anger arising not from the visitors, but connected to the accumulation of the inaction, coupled with the misdeeds of their leaders, as we now are experiencing from our own leaders.

            These youths have, commencing with the evils of Apartheid been very much enslaved and continuously denied fundamental rights by the overlords. This normally incensed them, while they had remained waiting to break the clutches that has been holding them in captivity. This they expected would happen as soon as the foreign forces departed. However, the foreign forces were eventually forced to retreat, but still, the situation did not change for good, rather, the slavery of the youths grew worse, since the change in rulership slipped into hands, the oppression of whom did not offer any better than that of the colonizing masters. This is because the new lords, who came in with corruption still cut off the youths from coming into the vine yard left for them by their ancestors. Therefore, the youths have continued seeing themselves as under the same spell.

            Then when visitors started coming, Nigerians, and other nationals, the youths of the country of South Africa, seeing them do things they were not used to doing, as ‘slaves’ began to envy them, and without thought, in their limited intelligence, began to wage war at them. This is what corruption has caused. This same thing will eventually happen in Nigerian, unless our leaders take the hint and turn over a new leaf. Those that have taken to corruption will therefore begin to appreciate that corruption has a way of embezzling resources that would have been employed in creating employment for the youths, thereby keeping them away from evil thoughts.

            On the other hand, it has been encouraging that the present-elect has seriously indicated that salaries and other remunerations attaching to the National Assembly, will be cut to size, at least to bring them in line with what is obtaining in countries that should know better than us in this country. To think that the structure of financial takings by members of the Legislature out ways that in the United States of America, is outrageous. This is, on the face of it, corruption personified, and should be immediately visited.

            I use this medium to raise the issue of Education in the country. Right now, our leaders have been dangling education as a tool for enticing electorates to the side of the ruling authorities. But, I say that education must be made of sterner stuff. Indeed it is utterly disappointing that Nigerians, who, on the average, are being looked upon as educated, will on a close look be found to constitute a bunch of untrustworthy individuals, whom visitors to the country cannot rely upon as associates in business. This is indeed a shame.

            I am making this observation to alert authorities charged with education in the country to take note of the need to train Nigerians with good morals, the type that will be a credit to the country as a whole; they type that will make favourable impressions on visitors, who will see them as worthy of trust in business dealings, and other aspects that bring Nigerian citizenry into public view.

            What I am trying to discount is the idea now making the creation of universities in every nook and corner of the country as political stunt, without caring about adequacy. This, in a way, will rather, if care is not taken, produce foolishness of intelligence. Therefore we must look for real educationists to help us in that field, not those chosen to bring out the ‘job for the boys’ syndrome’. These thought will this time suffice to guide our leaders.

            May the Good Lord help us to build a true nation?

            IN CONCLUSION, may I take this opportunity to observe the very disturbing trend in this last general elections; a trend that served to expose the fact that Nigeria is not yet anywhere on the road to democracy, which is government for the people, and also by the people. This time, and for the purpose of our discuss, I would dwell on the purport of the first stanza, to prove that the way we play politics is nothing near the ideal. The point is that we claim to play the politics of democracy, which we know is government for the people, the people of Nigeria, in this case, the entire people of Nigeria, and not a section thereof. Therefore justice demands that the game must be played in fairness, so that every Nigerian must not be cheated or isolated. Fairness demands a level ground.

            Therefore there must be real transparency. That is exactly what was evidently lacking in the said last elections, where money did the voting. Recruited thugs kept moving round the voting arena, loaded with cash, and distributing same to selected voters, in accordance with their showing, in a manner that suggests the intimate knowledge of the thugs regarding the way voting was being conducted, to the extent of knowing who and which parties were beneficiaries.

            This was the shame of the exercises, and which completedly negated the intendment of the principle of democracy, thus setting to naught all we have been trying to articulate about the noble concept of democracy. This is because, this approach now gaining acceptance, as the Nigerian conscience appears to favour, in a way, has taken the country off the track, and has made our political ideology anything but the globally accepted pattern, in any form.

            It is therefore my view that Nigeria must have to start a new, and agree on the type of political pattern that will suit the Nigerian psyche, and stop playing what may now be described, as ‘game’ and which we generically pass for corruption without attempting to categorize the gravity. It is heart-warming that the incoming government has ‘change’ as its watch-word. This, is indeed encouraging. What we now have to await is the doing, which will introduce, in the real sense, democracy as a working agenda, not vote-hawking. We have every reason to believe that the in-coming government will meet the yearning of the average Nigerian with good conscience.

            WE SO PRAY

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