by Uche Briggs
The sun rose early.
The signature sweltering heat of Lokoja pierced through our skin as we stood in line to cast our votes. It was a proud moment for Osas, my housemate, and I. Having walked a long distance to our polling booths, we stood in defiance.
Although, Lokoja was run by the predominance of the PDP, we were obstinately determined to cast our votes for Buhari, a man we believed in.
The sneers and jests sent our way by the pro PDP agents weren’t going to deter us. We held the General in high esteem. We understood that our support was probably a lost cause owing to the immense power wielded by incumbency, but we believed that it was our duty, our divine charge to put our trust behind a man like this.
My faith in the General has since died, crushed with an unfeeling abruptness. Buhari’s response to the violent situations after the elections was such a disappointment. Although he wasn’t physically wielding the machetes that severed heads, his silence spoke great volumes. When he made the ‘dog and baboon’ remark, I knew it was time to tell myself the real truth. It was time to move on.
While 2011 was a defining moment for Nigerian elections, a year that marked the increased participation by many from all over Nigeria, one would expect that 2015 would consolidate on the success and ensure that we have a more fortified democracy, and they may be right.
However, over the past couple of months, an unsettling thought tugs at my mind. It had been difficult to identify till now but I strongly feel there may be no hope come 2015. At this point, we have not a single candidate one can look forward to, no party with an ideology or moral uprightness to deliver us from limbo.
The APC has risen, hurriedly pieced together by what appears to be desperation to challenge the ruling party. Many are of the opinion that the APC is ‘God sent’ and this is true to the extent that it is a party with the structure and base to, at the very least, present an option for Nigerians. While it may have been repeated many times, it bears repeating: the ideology of “Anything but the PDP” would not work this time.
We need a party that represents an unambiguous ideology that is reflected in its dealings. The APC contraption is yet to define in plain terms where they stand and as such we have what Tola Sarumi aptly describes as the same men under the aegis of different alphabets.
The narrative on social media has been quick to point at the possibility of a ‘Fashola/Oby’ tickets, and again, it is yet apparent that people who clamor for this subscribe to the false assumption that once we have intelligent well meaning people in power, all our problems will disappear. It also shows a weak understanding of the character of Nigerian politics and followership. It would be a herculean task to vote in two people from the South. Beyond this however, I am very critical of the way I appraise the Lagos state government.
For a large part of my life, I stayed in Jakande Estate Isolo. A decrepit road links this place to Bucknor and Isheri, just 5 minutes away by car. During the late 90s, there was the massive flux of people to the Isheri/Bucknor area. Lands were acquired and developed for habilitation by largely middle class men. My family (my mother more precisely) developed an interest in the area and decided to set up a school instead of a home. Our feasibility study ensured that we located it in a fertile zone to set up a learning center for the kids of young and growing families. It was a tough but exciting time for us as a family. We knew that the first couple of years would be difficult but we strongly believed that once the government fixed the road linking Jakande Esatate and Bucknor, it would increase the influx of people and our venture would gain traction. Boy, were we wrong.
Over 16 years after, the road has degenerated into a death snatch for cars. Millions of Naira invested in the school died along with hopes and aspirations.
What is even more biting is that during every campaign period since 1999, caterpillars and work trucks would miraculously emerge on the roads, raising our hopes and just as dramatically, vanish after the elections. Oh, the deception rankles.
As I plied that road again recently, worsened by the rain, I am brutally reminded of my sub human status, how other people in VI, Ikeja and Surulere are more deserving of a better life than us.
So when people leap on the bandwagon in unabashed praise of Fashola’s remarkable achievement, I am uneasy, reluctant to shower praise because I know that his brand of development targets a select few. Would I throw myself to vote this man in?
These are some of the stories that shape the narrative of my thoughts and structure my thinking of the years to come. The PDP has failed woefully, but the APC has refused to present a credible alternative.
Hope is bleak as I write; all I see is myself huddled in front of the TV, shielded from the sun’s fury, while others go out to vote in 2015.