Let’s admit it, election in Nigeria is war. I have known this since. I witnessed it in 1993. After the Moshood Abiola of Social Democractic Party (SDP) defeated Bashir Tofa’s National Republican Convention (NRC), the elections were annulled by Ibrahim Babanginda. People took to the streets fighting, protesting and fighting over the annulment. It was a glimpse into structure of how elections are weapons of selection. What would have happened if Moshood Abiola ruled? (I digress)
J. Shola Omotola reminds us that elections “are not in themselves a guarantee for sustainable democratic transition and consolidation” and they can be used to disguise authoritarian rule. Omotola opens up a can of disgusting worms by saying democracy can be used as a ruse. But, truly, that’s what it is. We are clamouring for a process without really believing in the tenets and without really paying attention to the process. Elections in Nigeria or Africa is simply a show at the feet of the West and a bloody drama within the shores of the land.
It was reinstated again by the recent election. It’s a dog-eat-dog scenario where winners walk around with the blood of the losers dripping from the side of their mouth. Over 30 lives were lost in the just concluded elections in Nigeria. If the just concluded Nigerian elections were to be a movie, it would be called There Will Be Blood.
Why do I feel bad that election in Nigeria is a war? Because, it is. The answers are loud enough. A friend asked: “Why bother?” It is a legitimate question. Why bother about a place you have not lived in for close to a decade? Can’t you watch from a distance and thank God for leaving, what Donald Trump describes as, “a shit hole”? When I visited last year for a family member’s wedding, a friend reminded me that I am a guest in a town where I was born. For me to only visit, for me to only spend some days, for me to sweat too much on my forehead while eating Asun, means I am a guest. These are next level things I can’t handle. I must leave Nigerian things to Nigerians living in Nigeria. Therefore, when it comes to Nigerian politics, I must behave like a guest.
After all, some of my critics on social media have boxed me into the diasporan corner. A corner that is mostly for the arm chair critics. A corner where I can wail and never be heard. A corner where my wailing ends up on twitter, a blog or serves as a Facebook rant. And, to be honest, it seems they might be right. I am always reminded when making logical sense in this space to come home and fix the problems. I never understand the diasporan labelling and I will never understand it. There are reasons for this digression. One, the just concluded election ended relationships with some friends. Discussing Nigerian politics with some Nigerians is like juggling a lazy dog in the air waiting for it to explode. These friends can’t comprehend why I would never support President Muhammadu Buhari (aka Sai Baba) or Abubakar Atiku or any of the other representatives of the party(I have talked about that here) and blamed my stance on existing “in the diaspora.” Second, and most important, a diasporic element like me talking about Nigerian politics is tantamount to a child born in London talking about his ancestors in Lagos and Edo state, Nigeria. It doesn’t add up. But, back to the point.
Yes, the main election is over. The winner? I don’t care. I lie. I care. I actually do care when I think of the affiliations I still have in that country. I want them to be safe. I want them to exist in a sane society. However, this time, they will be in the hands of the same culprit.The same actors that will act out the script of their godfathers. The truth remains the same– a continuum in the geriatrics of chasing after corrupt heads, chasing after offenders and forgetting the main mission of good governance.
The next level will be shrouded in massaging of egos and extermination of enemies. There will be nothing new. The next four years will be a reminder of the past four years. And, of course, in the dialectics of politics in Nigeria, there is always the one who plays the pipe and the one who dances to the tune. The figure head that Nigerians rush out to vote for does not even know the colour of the pipe, how many holes in the pipe and will never touch the pipe. He will only dance to the rhythm.
Our brand of democracy is stained with a tinge of kowtowing and ball-licking on a grand scale. Our brand of democracy means the victor have to call on God for handing him the power of powers. It’s not driven by a sense of purpose. It is driven by a selfish mission, a macabre vision and a forceful move to fatten stomachs.
In the move to the next level, there will gnashing of teeth by the losing party. There will be orchestration to undermine the ruling party. Different type of games will be played to dirty the name of the winner. Again, there will be blood.
I am reminded that the next level might mean victory for some and might mean a return to the backward existence that already exists in Nigeria. I am reminded to maintain an optimistic outlook in the face of a misplaced democracy. I am reminded that the likes of Sowore, Moghalu, Oby and co. who made an attempt at presidency, wouldn’t continue to work hard to maintain a momentum to keep their fires burning till next election. I am reminded that the next level is just another phrase in the mouths of those who chastise humans and display a stylish demonstration-of-crase.