By Tony Iribor
The Anambra gubernatorial election has come and gone. A supplementary election held on 30th of November, 2013, to conclude the process and the APGA candidate Willie Obiano has been declared by INEC to be the winner.
I will not want to dwell on the election proper but would rather speak about certain traits that are common with us regarding elections in Nigeria. We can lie to ourselves or pretend and act like these things are not true, but I believe they exist. And the sooner we understand these things, the better it will help us with accepting the reality before us.
Nigeria is a combination of multiple ethnic groups/tribes. With over 250 ethnic groups and some ethnic groups speaking more than one language, you expect that there will be differences in culture and belief. With our diversity, it is only normal for people to identify those from the same ethnic group as their own. This also plays a key role in elections in Nigeria.
When it is time to vote, sometimes, the uneducated ask, “Who is he or she?” “Where is he/she from?” some will vote someone just because they see the person as brother and not necessarily because of what he/she may offer in office should he/she win. We want someone who we call our brother or sister to be in office. If we can’t find such a person, we settle for someone close if possible. The politicians know this and they play this card well to get us to vote for them. I suspect that the reason why Goodluck Ebele Jonathan gathered more votes than Mohammed Buhari did in the Southeast in the 2011 elections was because he was seen as closer to those in that region than Buhari. This same reason favoured Buhari in the north. Will it continue? Yes, it will. Will it ever stop? I do not have the answer to that question.
Then there is almighty religion. Structures do not work in Nigeria as it should, so we seek miracles for everything. We are always grateful for every single thing. When a plane lands we clap our hands and give praise to God because we know we lack emergency services to handle mishaps. We are grateful to God for not falling in majorly because we know what people who are taken to our hospitals go through. This doesn’t mean we are not genuine with our praise to God. We would rather not have to be faced with those uncertainties. So we go to churches and mosques and we respect what the leaders of these institutions say.
In the south eastern part of Nigeria, most people are Catholics, so you can imagine what will happen if the catholic priest speaks against a particular candidate. We all remember the story of the former Imo state governor who was said to have molested a catholic priest. Any wise politician in Nigeria will be careful in this area when it is time to solicit your votes. The politicians know this and they play this card well to get us to vote for them. Every politician will play whatever cards he can at his disposal to get votes. They will tell you how different you are from your brother just to get your votes. Tell you his religion is against yours and so on, just so you can vote for them. They will attend your events in churches and mosques just to appeal to that part of you. And yes we will vote for that single fact alone
POWER AND POWER ALONE
Forget the fancy tales we hear. The main reason some want to be elected is to get into power. Do not be deceived. Getting elected into that powerful office and having access to the nations’ treasury is all that matters for some. For how many years, free education has been thrown in our face by most politicians. It has been recycled time and time again with every party as part of their plans. Is that all that they know they will do with regards to education? We only hope, when we vote that whoever wins will have a conscience and do the necessary things to develop the country.
When it comes to rigging, my belief is simple; every big political party rigs. Winning an election in Nigeria means access to the humongous national cake. When party members look at how many have benefitted and are still benefitting from eating the cake, who wouldn’t rig to win? So why do some parties complain after elections? This is because they got out-rigged. Their rigging capacity and strategy wasn’t strong enough to win. Every technique available is deployed. It is like a computer program. Once you lose an election as a result of being out-rigged, call the election a sham.
DO OR DIE AFFAIR
Remember the quote “winners don’t quit and quitters don’t win” whoever came up with that had us in mind. 2015 is almost upon us and many are scared. Scared of what would possibly happen as a result of the elections. The average Nigerian politician takes defeat in bad taste. For him or her, accepting defeat means quitting and a winner doesn’t quit.
In 2011, many corps members were killed in the north just because the result of an election didn’t go their way. We have been hearing scary statements just because of the upcoming elections in 2015 and we are still in 2013. Thugs will be used to steal ballot boxes and commit all sorts of crimes. Ammunition will get into the hands of strange people. When was the last time an election was held and the losing candidate congratulated the winner?
These are just a few that I think I have noticed. If we know and accept it, then we can, if we want to, tackle these issues sincerely.