Fellow Nigerians, for some months now, the issue of the 2015 presidential election has become the cynosure of all eyes. Hence, it is not a shocker that it has consistently made the headlines in every of our national newspapers. Wherever two or more people are now gathered in the name of Nigeria, know that, right there in their midst, the imminent 2015 power tussle is the ineluctable bone of contention. On October 15, 2014, the whole situation took a new dimension when a regular dancer to this sad song formally declared his intention to partake again in the dance, the fourth time in a sequence. Since then, the mass and social media have been seriously buzzing than ever over this issue that has indisputably become a controversial national topic.
Therefore, in recent days, it cannot be denied that one gets inundated with various opinion pieces, articles, criticisms, historical flashbacks, etc from the overzealous sycophants and ardent apologists of each presidential candidate, who idolize their own by maligning the others. Of course, I have always known it is a sorry case of the pot calling the kettle black. At first, I was painstakingly reading every writing churned out by any of the camps to exonerate their candidate or villify their opponents. But then, in accordance to the law of diminishing marginal utility, the more of these things I consumed, the more my interest in them waned gradually.
In the wake of all these occurrences, it is pretty funny how Nigerians have become prolifically creative in the art of name and slogan fabrication. The social media, as well as mass media, is now replete with a zillion names and slogans that have been ingeniously brought to the fore to describe the various contestants and their supporters. Such names include: Gejites, Buharist, Ebelites, Buharians, Jonathanians, Atikuites, etc. Oh, my people are ingenious! We sure know how to camouflage the same present in different wrapping papers. I shall soon address this in another article for another day anyway.
While I very much subscribe to the view that the social media should never be made the yardstick to represent the will of the masses in any election in Nigeria- being cognizant of the depressing fact that a good percentage of the voters may not have the wherewithal to acquire the devices requisite for social networking, or may lack the technical knowledge to operate the devices if affordable at all, or may not have the time or patience it demands, or may be incorrigibly conservative, thus rebuffing the idea of a computer age- I, however, want to call attention to a ludicrous but rather embarrassing stunt pulled recently by the special assistant to the President on social media, Reno Omokri. He, probably to counter a similar survey by Sahara Reporters, organized an opinion poll on October 16, a day after Buhari’s intention declaration, on his blog, “Build Up Nigeria”, posing to the people the question: “If the Nigerian Presidential election were held today, who would you vote for between President Goodluck Jonathan and General Muhammadu Buhari?”. As at 6.32 p.m on Saturday, October 18, it was reported by Premium Times that Buhari was leading the incumbent President with a wide margin. “While Mr. Buhari has 6,411 votes, representing 69.87 percent of the total tally, President Goodluck Jonathan has 2,455 votes, representing 26.75 percent of the votes cast. Three hundred and ten persons, representing 3.38 percent of the total votes, were undecided,” Premium Times stated.
Needless to say, the presidency saw this as a slap on its face and was purported to have directed that the poll should not be closed until the President had garnered enough votes to lead, while serious efforts were being made to reverse the situation. Such efforts might have included reaching out to the stalwarts of the party across the nation to vote and galvanize people to vote for GEJ, and if need be, vote more than once, using different devices. Thus, it was not much of a chagrin when the poll was immediately closed as soon as the President got just enough votes to marginally lead Buhari with less than one percent of the total votes on October 19. Fellow Nigerians, if such drastic measures were taken to thwart the will of the people in a common opinion poll, what does 2015 hold for us? It’s a shame, such travesty of democracy.
Before the Buharists, or whatever they call themselves, roll out drums and begin to dance Skelewu, thinking they have got yet another fan, I hasten to add that I refuse to be a party to their “palm wine dance” either. I have always pontificated, without apology, that the messiah (or someone close to that) Nigeria needs is yet to come on board. And yes, I can reiterate that anytime, looking at the challenges presently bedevilling our nation, for I am yet to comprehend the rationale behind recycling the same set of leaders who have been tried and found wanting. In this writing, I do not intend to analyse why Buhari may not be a right candidate. I have discussed that in an article before. You may choose to read my article titled “Soyinka’s Opinion of Buhari and His Presidential Dream”.
On October 3, 2014, a 29-year old young man, Gabriel Wikström, was appointed minister for public health, health care and sports in Sweden. It is exactly 60 years now since a young Nigerian was last in such a position. Late Matthew Mbu, in 1953, as a 23-year old man, was appointed as Nigeria’s federal minister for labour and left the post in 1954. Presently, the youngest minister in Jonathan’s cabinet, Dr. Nurudeen Muhammed, the minister of state for foreign affairs, is 38-year old, not even a youth any longer. When shall we start bringing in the young and vibrant into leadership positions in Nigeria? When shall our youths become the leaders of the said tomorrow? When?
El-Rufai was making pungent points in relation to the aforementioned in 2011 when he said,”We must put the future of the country at heart and give way to a new generation of leadership.” He further maintained his standpoint then by saying, “I was 25 years old when Buhari and Babangida were Heads of State, and I am now 50 and they still want to be Head of State…President Babangida and General Buhari should just disappear. They should give way to a new set of people with new ideas.” It is quite a pity, however, that El-Rufai, who uttered these noble statements in 2011, and who I have great respect for, has now eaten back his words three years after. You see, it is always difficult to put one’s foot down and stand for the truth when one now dines and wines at the table of another whom the truth must hurt. God forbid that he should bite the hand that now feeds him. God forbid! The truth would rather be left unsaid. I hear he is now contesting for Kaduna State governorship. Goodluck to him.
Our leaders have turned us into a card game of “pick two, hold on, continue”. We have hardly ever had a say in the decisions that affect our very lives. And from the pointers I see, we may not yet have come close to having that say, if a common opinion poll could still be so egregiously manipulated. Unless a selfless, visionary and pragmatic leader, who upholds justice without minding whose ox is gored, comes on board, we might as well continue to be perpetually entangled in the chicanery of our leaders, present and past, who keep playing us as mere cards. One plays, holds on for the next to play, and another continues the same vicious cycle.
As for an opposition party, I doubt if we have one yet- not when it is the same set of power-drunk and power-hungry politicians, who are re-uniting to fulfill a common goal of gratifying their individual avarice to the detriment of the nation. So, come 2015, if you must vote at all, vote for the lesser of the evils, evils our leaders have subtly disguised in clothes of many colours. Don’t ask me which is the lesser of the evils. I do not know.
May God open our eyes to see what we need to see.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Omoya Yinka Simult is an avid reader and thinker. He is also a polemic and revolutionist who still believes in Nigeria. He has a strong conviction that every citizen is a leader, and every leader builds the nation. He loves to be close to nature and could exchange his pair of shoes for an assortment of fruits. He intends to be a vegetarian someday, but he is yet to muster enough determination to ignore the mouthwatering aroma of his mother’s chicken broth. He blogs on omoyasimult.wordpress.com. He is @omoyayinka on Twitter.