2015: Why We May Fail Again by Abubakar Evuti
The April 2011 elections that saw us into this hardship, this open senseless corruption we are wallowing in, this quick-sand we are sinking into without flinching is the most dramatic, the most climatic and (considering the waste of public treasury on election campaigns that broke the nation, the deaths before, during and after the elections) the most tragic in recent times.
There was the controversy that trailed the illness of late President Musa Yar’adu that produced an “Acting President”. Then the death that followed that proved to us that “it was the will of God that Goodluck Jonathan should be President”!
There was the argument that tired heads; of PDP and its zoning formula. ‘Jonathan should not run under the PDP’, people argued; ‘he should stand by the agreement he signed as deputy Governor of Bayelsa state’. ‘No! Jonathan is not going against the agreement he signed!’, His supporters argued. ‘Jonathan ran on a joint ticket with a northerner and (no matter how absurd it may sound) that makes Jonathan a northerner fit to run under the PDP!’
There was the Eagle Square bombing that quaked Abuja: the first of its kind since 1914. ”They want to kill him (i.e. Goodluck Jonathan)” a girl said, “surely he will win”.
There was the “Northern consensus candidate” that elicited laughter especially from Chief Olusegun Obassanjo as Atiku Abubakar emerged the representative of the North—the PDP representative of the North.
There were the campaigns that followed and the delegate-bidding. There was the PDP primary election that literally woke up the North to the painful reality that theirs was a region with no leadership, a region with a bleak future, a region of dead brotherhood!
There was the debate the incumbent President cowed from because, as reports have it, he was not allowed to see the questions before hand. At the debate, there was the eruption of laughter when Muhammad Buhari, responding to the question what he will do about the ailing electricity of Nigeria, said to the effect that: ‘I will not promise anything. Before 1999, we knew where we were, we knew the amount of electricity we were generating and between 1999 and today, we have spent more than $16b with little or no improvement. Now if elected president, I will find out what has happened to all that money.’
There was the election that made Mr. Goodluck Jonathan president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
This article is an attempt to show how we were deluded. How our common sense was clouded as we (I did not) voted handsomely for PDP—a party most Nigerians will always agree is the very metaphor of corruption and injustice. This article is an attempt to show why we may fail to make right choices again come 2015. God forbid!
Tribalism is one of the factors responsible for the tragedies in Nigeria and in Africa. Most, if not all, wars fought across black Africa is as a result of tribalism.
A university student, you must agree with me, should be the most broad-minded of the other population of the country. A student of the university should be so well informed that his mentality should be sterilized completely of tribalism and all forms of bigotry. But sadly, this is not so. Gary is a course mate. It was before the elections we met in a cyber café. “Vote Goodluck” he said to me. “Why?” He could not say exactly but the reason he gave was that Goodluck Jonathan is from the South South (Gary’s mother, he told me, is from the South South) and that we have had enough of Hausas. I remember asking him to bring forth sound arguments like the past performance of Goodluck Jonathan as deputy Governor, as Governor, as vice President, and as acting President. There could have been some but Gary did not know any. So I told him about the outstanding performance of Muhammadu Buhari as military President and I further related to him Adamu Adamu’s “Buhari: the PTF years”. Collected speeches that showed competence, remarkable credibility and transparency. Gary was unmoved. It just has to be Goodluck, enough of Hausas.
Now if a university student will see things so, how about the countless other half-educated and illiterate compatriots across the country? Which way Nigeria?
(I should make it plain that whatever I say in this article, especially here, I stand — literally, with head bowed —to be corrected).
A man in one of the states of Northern Nigeria ran for the office of the governor of his state. During his campaign, instead of the usual praise-singing music, this man played the verses of the Holy Quran. The poetry,the verses filled hearts with inspiration. He broke into tears when he gave his speeches after saying “Salam Alaikum”. The Muslims (the majority of the state) did not only support him, they believed in him, loved him, voted for him and stood outside the threshold of the electoral office, under the scorching sun as the votes were counted. “If you doubt the votes, come out and count us!” and so the PDP incumbent governor was unseated.
The new governor, you do not know what he did; hastily he left the ANPP for the PDP. The Muslims who voted him thinking it was a duty to Allah felt betrayed.
Marvel at the power of religion in the politics of Nigeria!
“Buhari is a bigot, he hates Christians”, ”enough of Muslims”, all this echoed across the country, as I was told, especially in churches.
A photographer screamed “blood of Jesus!” Because I said to vote Buhari. It was shock that then gave way to laughter. My friend Gbenga even said of Tunde Bakare “a fake pastor” because he agreed to run as vice President to Muhammad Buhari (a Muslim). It was narrowed to “vote Biblical not Political”.
The Muslims on the other hand were also moving in the same direction as the Christians. “A Muslim is always better”, one Muslim would say to another. The roar of “Allahu Akbar” that went up the roof of the mosque upon a Friday when the Imam said to vote Buhari still lingers in my mind. Some Mallams made the assertion that it was even a sin to vote a non-Muslim.
I agree that a Muslim is by default a leader, an administrator. If you read the history of Islam, the life of the none materialistic Prophet Muhammad (SAW) who never went to bed with money on him and possessed very few properties, or the rightly guided Khalifas, you will agree a Muslim is by default an administrator.
Islam is a religion that hates injustice. I was listening to Shaik Kabir Gombe when he spoke about injustice. He related a hadith of the Prophet that says that before Allah forbade injustice to mankind, He forbade it to Himself first. That He, Allah, will never be unjust and none of His subjects should ever be unjust. I listened to a tafsir by Shaik Yahya Haifan and he stated that it is haram for a Muslim to accept any trust; any form of leadership knowing that he is incompetent.
And then the story of Khalifah Umar, during his reign as the leader of the Muslims of the world, he was about to speak to a gathering of Muslims when a man—a commoner interrupted him. Oh leader of Muslims, you must tell us how you made a garment so long the man demanded.
Cloth material was shared equally among all Muslims. The share that was given (everybody knew) was not enough to make a garment that will extend to Umar’s ankle for Umar was a tall man. So since Umar’s integrity was in doubt, he was unfit to address the Muslims as their leader till things were clarified. Umar asked his son to explain. And Umar’s son told how he gave his own share of the material to his father and that was how Umar made so long a garment. And so Umar was allowed to address the gathering of Muslims.
A governor — a Muslim governor jailed a young man for criticizing him on Facebook!
A Muslim is better if he is not materialistic, if he is competent, just, incorruptible, trustworthy but not just because he says “I am a Muslim.” (When in fact some do not even perform Salat).
If you accept and digest the notion that “a Muslim is always better” ask your self this: why is the North, with all its Muslim Governors, one of the most pathetic places in the world?
Now considering the Islamic injunctions on corruption, competence, and justice, don’t you think a Muslim, out of love, should vote against an incompetent, corrupt, unjust Muslim? Don’t you think that voting for him (helping him to thrive in corruption, injustice and incompetence) is paving a path to hell for him?
The PDP Muslims who voted Goodluck Jonathan justified it thus: a vote for PDP is a vote for a Christian as well as it is a vote for a Muslim for Namadi Sambo is a Muslim, and a vote for CPC is a vote for a Muslim as well as a vote for a Christian for Tunde Bakare is not only a Christian but a pastor. Logical I say. Now it is wrong (I ache to say it is stupidity) to bypass a man like Tunde Bakare to vote a man as Namadi Sambo as it is to bypass a man as Muhammad Buhari to vote for a man as Goodluck Jonathan for no rational reason than the religion they practice.
3. Fear and Bribery
Once upon a time the network of MTN went terribly bad. There was no explanation why. Inspired by Nigerians on Twitter, I arrived, alone, at one of the branches of MTN in Abuja. I said to one of the attendants; “your network has been unstable for the past two weeks and as a result, I have scarcely been able to use it in the past two weeks. So I want compensation.”
The shock on the lady’s face said it all: This had never been said to her in this office, it was very unlike the typical Nigerian. We never speak to demand our right as we never stand to demand and ensure a free and fair election and so we watch a party rig elections, snatch away ballot boxes, thumb-print fake ballot papers and stuff them into boxes before our very eyes and we never flinch.
There is always bribery, voters selling their God-given rights, as it was reported during the last election, for millets, rice and made to swear by the Quran to vote a particular party. Tirr!
(Please plant a tree today.)
The writer is on twitter @ngugievuti
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