Editorials: Nigerians Go to Polls: The Road So Far


Today is a landmark, a day for Nigerians to elect a new leader to represent them in the next four years. The last 8 years have been odd, an unforgettable one for them in hardship and backwardness. They witnessed a president who for much of the time was as aloof as he was disdainful to their plight; say whatever you want; president Muhammadu Buhari is going down in history as someone who presided over a Nazi like regime in the history of this country; he may deny it, but he was all totalitarian and dictatorial at least for most part of his reign. That’s why awareness has become so heightened that for the first time the generality of Nigerians are unanimous in agreement that something sinister must give way to decency.  Who will forget the harrowing experience of having banks shut for the first time as did several pay points such as POS and the ATM’s? That is, governance was brought to a new low as far as Nigerians were concerned.

Now, as they queue up to change the narratives, their state of consciousness is at the highest with the name ‘Buhari’ on the lips of every one—both young and old! Forty-six years after he first came to power, it is not pride that the same man is the cause of so much tension and strife in the land, only limited by age and statue bars. Nigerians are wishing that the spell be broken this time. Buhari was elected as president of Nigeria, yet, at the end, he elevated himself above the law and the nation; he became the sovereign himself, instead of the nation. It may well be that he did all that in ignorance; but that is terribly wrong—and inexcusable.  When he was expected to act, that’s when he would be AWOL; someone should have told him that a president without the support of the people is zero. When he takes a decision, it would be far from the expectation of the people.

His decision to construct railway to Maradi from Katsina instead of from Lagos to Maiduguri is one such puzzle Nigerians cannot forget. His former Transport Minister Rotimi Amaechi who timidly defended that action, has since lost out, by miscalculating Buhari’s affection for him. He resigned to contest the presidency thinking that he had his masters backing. But like many others found out, Buhari established a trademark or reputation for abandoning those who had hopes in him. His deliberate appetite for unending borrowing is another matter entirely with the results nowhere to be seen. As the highways were 8 years ago, so they are today-untouched. The Abuja-Lokoja-Benin highway remains decrepit till this day; the Warri-Port Harcourt Highway that was started 12 years back remains so. Sometimes, you hear comments such as “Jonathan your son did not complete it, is it a Hausa man that would do it?’ These are the comments that reigned at the time.

Now as Nigerians wait to rescue their country, will the powers that be cooperate? These are the fears which are genuine.  Observers may have to watch out for systemic sabotage of the process; it is either the card reader would not work or election materials would arrive late or that someone’s have been omitted from the ballot box at the last minute; other than that, a large section of eligible youths may be disfranchised by time wasting—or outright cancellation. But, do Nigerians really have a choice?

Their preferred candidates may have been shut out from the time of the primaries when the combined influence of cash and sentiments was used to sway voters towards producing the eventual contestants—all of them unpopular. So, with Buhari’s disastrous performance and the emergence of two incompetent candidates, who will they be voting for? Because neither of the two—Atiku Abubakar and Bola Ahmed Tinubu are capable of steering the nation out of the present crucible. They all have herculean task ahead of putting out Buhari’s unnecessary inferno. His 8 turbulent years has all but consigned the nation to more than 30 years back in civilization. And this will require enormous concentration to bring back to reckoning. But where would the new leader start from?

To disband all key positions filled with his tribesmen? Or to balance the massive gap between his tribesmen and the rest 250 million Nigerians with equal stake to the country’s natural resources? Whichever, the time for prompt reversal is here. Atiku Abubalar is suffering that stigma as of the moment. As for Bola Tinubu, he arrogated to himself absolute power and disrespected constituted authorities. His utterances have been anything but encouraging if not unbecoming of a future leader.

Because of his extremely deep pockets he subjected the entire APC machinery to his whims and caprice. He refused to listen to the hue and cries of reasonable people to remain as kingmaker. By open intimidation, he struck fear into the entire APC hierarchy. Now, you can guess what he will do as sitting president. Look at Lagos State, that has not been able to breath fresh air since his official departure from government 20 years ago. The entire State treasury is alleged to be in his pockets with the people, security agencies, civil rights organization, pressure groups unable to do anything about it. As president he will definitely subject Nigerians to a new level of bondage; this is the naked truth.

They say experience is the best teacher and if one cannot be left-handed at an old age, Bola Tinubu is not coming to be different! And truly, if we are to reclaim our country, then bold decisions must be taken. One of them is to ensure that sentiments be kept aside and the right thing done. Bola Tinubu cannot preside over the affairs of this nation, so also Atiku Abubakar. Peter Obi has not shown any credible trait other than he is younger than the old brigades. Someone who moved from party to party seeking for where to fly the ticket should be viewed with suspicion.

It is unfortunate those who could have done the job better were excluded from the start by the corrupt attitude of people like senators Iyorchia Ayu and Abdullahi Adamu. Kwankwaso as former governor and minister of defense may have done it, but the stigma of Buhari is rubbing off on him. Forget about foreign nations coming to intervene, that is an impossibility. The experience of Ukraine and Syria where civilians are mowed down daily with the United Nations unable to do anything, is not lost on us; Nigerians must know that their safety is squarely in their hands! Before the day runs out, they have to collectively decide and do the right thing: no voting on north, south or eastern divide.

This is the time to  put sentiments aside and consider the future of the nation. The youths of today should have a workable country to call their own—not the present one left in shambles by the opaque and irresponsible APC leadership. Thus as Nigerians go to polls, they should know that any mistake now would definitely spell doom—in life and properties; thank God they have their PVC’s to execute the task. We cannot continue to endure violence and bloodletting; thank God, the social media is here to help. There is no more hiding place for politicians to unleash unacceptable policies. That era is over! Over now to a peaceful Nigeria.