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Much Ado About the People’s Vote

The people whocast the votes decide nothing.

The people whocount the votes decide everything.

  • Joseph Stalin(18-195)

Nigeria politics and elections could come pretty hotand goose-step into something of a somersault on a cliff edge. Yes, they do.They may as well, according to the inimitable Kingsley Ozumba Mbadiwe ofblessed memory, be games and privileged pastimes only for the “timber,juggernauts and caterpillars” of the land. Yes, they jolly well can.

But these peculiarities do not much make us an island,one that is insular and shut away from the rest of the world. Thus, Nigeria’sincumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, who, last week, was declared winner of asecond term in office, could well look back to a role model in the Soviet Unionleader, Stalin. But for the fact that Buhari was a General, Comrade Stalin,something of a ten-star dictator, could have been a perfect, befittingprofessional inspirer of the Nigerian leader. When Buhari was asked, aftercasting his vote on February 23, whether, if he lost the election, he wouldcongratulate Atiku Abubakar, his People’s Democratic Party, PDP, rival, he shotback with his famous quote: “I will congratulate myself; I’m going to be thewinner!”

The unity of like minds between Stalin and Buhari isquite understandable. For them, especially when plebiscitarian methods weretending to define the process for attaining power, mankind cannot but be moremisguided, misjudging and the time for attaining a leadership paradise moredelinquently put to waste.

Stalin was lucky in his Soviet Union. He dragged theworld’s largest country, sprawling over some 13 time zones, during his days, byits bootstraps, to the top of a Mount Excellency of all time that he alonepossibly saw beckoning. At his time,  hecould flatter his countrymen and women with the bragging rights of a superpower, albeit one that embarrassingly lived on rationing bread and thecommonest of food items. Buhari, in his first coming (1983 – 85), was not aslucky as his Soviet mentor as he lost power to those who could not see beyondtheir noses. But now, without the assistance of armoured tanks, he had held onto some fluke called the ballot box. Having got power in the first place, howunwise it is to depend on voters without some insurance?

But could Buhari be wrong to declare himself thewinner of the election that had not held? Haven’t his countrymen and womenseen, as he clearly has done, that standing on Mount Aso gives him alone theprivileged ability to see greatness for Nigeria? Can’t his unparalleledvictories in the Lake Chad and Sambisa Forest vastness where Boko Haram has been “technicallydegraded”, after just three years and nine months of a massive rout, speakeloquently for his sheer leadership ability and his Sh’aka the Zulu militaryprowess?

From his assured might in Fortress. Katsina and theKano Pyramid of human supporters, to Mambilla Plateau, to the plains of theMiddle Belt that has been freely receiving a plenitude of the milk of humankindness from the Fulani herdsmen, to the Igbo heartland which has beengraciously saved from the tantrums of that bad boy, Nnamdi Kanu’s IndigenousPeople of Biafra, IPOB, and to the entire Southwest which he has invested withthe milk of Bola Tinubu’s exotic and progressive enlightenment — yes, all thesevast areas — won’t the millions, this great sea of humanity that has seen whatawesome things he has done, simply reward him with an exemption of voting?Should, in the first place, the indignity of going to the polls be necessarylet alone be visited with the class humiliation of a suggestion, one thatthrows up the crass stupidity of congratulating an unworthy Atiku Abubakar, whoshould step down for him? And should not the Niger Delta region, freed from itsperennial backwardness, see in him the messiah he is, now and in the future?

This gorgeous heart of the President and the frit ofits attainment should qualify him to win at all cost and entitle him to drawbenefits from the appointments. During the last and coming elections, the ArmedForces, the Police, the Civil Defence, the Directorate of State Security, EFCC,the now reasonable and humble law courts and many coercive arms of state shouldhelp sustain, expectedly, the continuity of government that exists for theirgood.

Just fine. But even with the best of expectations ofthe President, even with his amazing and immeasurable credentials as anincorruptible do-gooder in government, he must need admit that he has heaped onthe people and the nation the huge cost of unnecessary public institutions. TheIndependent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for instance, has beenassigned some N234.5 billion to prosecute elections which the President has won[or must win] even before the moneywas voted for it in the first place. Why do we attend to the hollow ritual of asham election, one already known to have been won by the President? Why needNigerians, including National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, members, die? Why dowe not just ban certain parties and their members from the electoral and powerprocess? Well, perhaps it is some fanciful opium to draw some rich wool overthe eyes of the people who are easily excitable over electoral politics andpower play as though we have an offer of the entire English Premier League onfree DStv bouquets.

What next, now that Buhari has won and the great issueof the day is the necessity by Atiku to congratulatehim so that we can have a “a peaceful transition” and thus wonderfully gazumpthe country to the Next Level? Whatmanner of a Next Level, the chiefslogan of APC, Buhari’s ruling party, are we to stand in need of? Next Level, like the Change slogan that brought thegovernment to power four years ago but which no one in the corridors of powerwants to remember, these days, may yet turn out eventually, becoming offensiveto our sensibilities when democracy and institutions erected to strengthen itare eroded from within to satisfy the hunger and yearnings of those who, likeComrade Stalin, goose-step and work their way to a power without theinconveniences of genuine electoral procedures.

What much ado about nothing democracy and its votingcharm sometimes do ever so become!

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