Tuesday, 19 April 2011
Last week, my country, Nigeria, had her second day of election in the set of three consecutive elections that will be conducted in April 2011 to determine our next group of leaders. Hitherto, many youths and elites in Nigeria have shown little commitment towards their civic responsibilities in the area of electoral activities and as such, the past elections have been coordinated with the practice of rigging, thuggery and anarchy. Unfortunately, when politicians gain entry into government positions by hook and crook, they never perform well in office. This is evidenced by the obvious misrule and lack of accountability as demonstrated by many prime public servants or government office holders in the country which in turn sustains the status quo of development observable in our nation today.
However, things seem to be taking a new turn this election year as this year’s electoral proceedings have witnessed the participation of more youth, many elites and a large number of senior citizens. Again, the employment of corpers or recent graduates of tertiary institutions presently serving the country as INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) election officers at the polling booths has helped to fairly marginalise the influence of corrupt politicians on election materials. These educated INEC personnel give attention to protocols set by the commission and are less inclined to accepting the monetary offers of politicking swindlers who have in time past powered the illegal act of ballot rigging. Despite the persistent discomfort created by the scorching sun, several Nigerian citizens stood up to their civic responsibilities this time around and waited to vote in spite of harsh weather condition. Another remarkable feature of this year’s elections is that a considerable number of voters, including elderly men and women, still waited behind to monitor their votes and the eventual counting process. Indeed, change is emerging in Nigeria.
Call it the spread of revolution across Africa or the distant emergence of a new era in Nigeria, the fact still remains that change is about to happen in Africa and everybody seems to be concerned. The aged are disgruntled of the poor leadership quality noticed within our localities and want to see their children’s children live better lives. The youths, jaded of the tortoise progress, have joined efforts in a cause that will yield a new breed of innovative leaders. I and my aging parents are not left out of this saga. We are up to the task. On April 9 and 16 this year, our individual routines were exact. We got off our beds and had our breakfasts very early due to the urge to perform our civic duties. On both days, the electoral process began as early as 8 a.m. with the accreditation of all registered and duly documented voters. We got accredited and waited around our respective voting stations to hear our names called and receive our ballot papers. If you were not accredited, then you would be disenfranchising yourself by denying your thumb a place on a ballot sheet. That time came and gladly, with bright stars replacing the pupils of my eyes, I received my ballots and voted for my candidates.
These days, no one wants to be spoon-fed by corrupt leaders anymore. The citizenry do not want to live at the mercy of people who they did not elect. They want to know what each man vying for a leadership post has in mind to for them. They want to put leaders into office themselves, through their ballot decisions. They are tired of the mismanagement of resources that we so have in abundance. It is therefore time for the riggers to seek other jobs because the rigging stock market will soon crash. The time for change to commence has arrived. The people have ignited the change. And the future will be in the hands of everyone again; not in the hands of a greedy minority. The world is watching as Nigeria votes. The children are praying as their proactive parents arise to protect their future. The elders have reached for the lash of rebuke which they have so long forgotten to use, in striking the buttocks of unrepentant leaders. And for us the youths, the change has just began; we will defend our cause!
Finally, it is noteworthy to congratulate Professor Attahiru Jega for the performance of INEC in the elections so far. Compared to the ones we have had in recent times, since former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s tenure, this year’s electoral process has been much more transparent. And while it has not been without riots and acts of arson in Kaduna and a few other northern states, the results of the elections have shown clarity in the choice of the Nigerian majority. As such, it is advisable for any individual, political party or groups of individuals who have views that are otherwise those stated above to go and justify such deviations tranquilly in the court of law, because the Nigerian land is not a graveyard for unanticipated dead bodies and the Nigerians of the future do not perceive such crimes as pardonable consequences of human anger. If you break the law, the law will not be bent for you. Rather, it will break you.