Much Ado About the People’s Vote

The people who cast the votes decide nothing.

The people who count the votes decide everything.

  • Joseph Stalin (18-195)

Nigeria politics and elections could come pretty hot and 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 of blessed 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’s incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, who, last week, was declared winner of a second term in office, could well look back to a role model in the Soviet Union leader, Stalin. But for the fact that Buhari was a General, Comrade Stalin, something of a ten-star dictator, could have been a perfect, befitting professional inspirer of the Nigerian leader. When Buhari was asked, after casting his vote on February 23, whether, if he lost the election, he would congratulate Atiku Abubakar, his People’s Democratic Party, PDP, rival, he shot back with his famous quote: “I will congratulate myself; I’m going to be the winner!”

The unity of like minds between Stalin and Buhari is quite understandable. For them, especially when plebiscitarian methods were tending to define the process for attaining power, mankind cannot but be more misguided, misjudging and the time for attaining a leadership paradise more delinquently put to waste.

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

But could Buhari be wrong to declare himself the winner of the election that had not held? Haven’t his countrymen and women seen, as he clearly has done, that standing on Mount Aso gives him alone the privileged ability to see greatness for Nigeria? Can’t his unparalleled victories in the Lake Chad and Sambisa Forest vastness where Boko Haram has been “technically degraded”, after just three years and nine months of a massive rout, speak eloquently for his sheer leadership ability and his Sh’aka the Zulu military prowess?

From his assured might in Fortress. Katsina and the Kano Pyramid of human supporters, to Mambilla Plateau, to the plains of the Middle Belt that has been freely receiving a plenitude of the milk of human kindness from the Fulani herdsmen, to the Igbo heartland which has been graciously saved from the tantrums of that bad boy, Nnamdi Kanu’s Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, and to the entire Southwest which he has invested with the milk of Bola Tinubu’s exotic and progressive enlightenment — yes, all these vast areas — won’t the millions, this great sea of humanity that has seen what awesome 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 necessary let alone be visited with the class humiliation of a suggestion, one that throws up the crass stupidity of congratulating an unworthy Atiku Abubakar, who should step down for him? And should not the Niger Delta region, freed from its perennial backwardness, see in him the messiah he is, now and in the future?

This gorgeous heart of the President and the frit of its attainment should qualify him to win at all cost and entitle him to draw benefits from the appointments. During the last and coming elections, the Armed Forces, the Police, the Civil Defence, the Directorate of State Security, EFCC, the now reasonable and humble law courts and many coercive arms of state should help sustain, expectedly, the continuity of government that exists for their good.

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

What next, now that Buhari has won and the great issue of the day is the necessity by Atiku to congratulate him so that we can have a “a peaceful transition” and thus wonderfully gazump the country to the Next Level? What manner of a Next Level, the chief slogan of APC, Buhari’s ruling party, are we to stand in need of? Next Level, like the Change slogan that brought the government to power four years ago but which no one in the corridors of power wants to remember, these days, may yet turn out eventually, becoming offensive to our sensibilities when democracy and institutions erected to strengthen it are eroded from within to satisfy the hunger and yearnings of those who, like Comrade Stalin, goose-step and work their way to a power without the inconveniences of genuine electoral procedures.

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


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