By Joseph Olaoluwa…
The 2019 General Elections have been a stomach upset for some people if not most. It is bitter sweet, or should I say sweet-bitter for some; just like eating the bile of a chicken or a cow. It has become a stomach upset- no. It is a tummy pain; a churn right in the hearts of many, heartbreak for some others. A few protests have begun. Others have threatened to leave the country. A day on Twitter or Facebook these few days will do you some comic relief after seeing several Nigerians go against each other on the sweeping divide that politics thrust among them.
All of that social media monitoring has necessitated this short concise article, code mixed with a bit of Yoruba, asking the question I nursed while weighing several opinions across board. It leads me to a place of wonder and amazement as I am forced to ask Nigerians: “What more do we want, nitori oloun (in the name of God?).”
Few weeks ago while I wrote Injury time politics, I was in Lagos with a friend who is like a brother to me. For someone craving the warmth of his friend, he had invited me to his house severally. It was early in the month, I obliged and I penned down the article Injury time politics while drawing an interesting allusion to football as I condemned the APC statue erected at the Abuja centre. I had described the act as a final poly to tilt the 2019 General Elections in the ruling party’s favour. My friend felt I was too critical of the current administration. He said: “Joseph, I see nothing wrong with this man you people condemn all the time. He has done no wrong, he is just fighting corruption.” I had wondered why my brother-like-friend saw nothing wrong with the APC statue alongside the popular perception several Nigerians echoed concerning President Buhari’s administration.
I will like to note that this argument didn’t end just there. We had argued on Whatsapp after that. He had mentioned that Tradermoni and N-power were good enough initiatives and the government was repositioning its mandate into the hearts of the people. That was early February. Now, the General Elections has come and gone.
The 2019 General Elections was the most competitive and mind boggling one since our democracy begun. This is not because of the bloodshed and voter intimidation that has been a regular feature since 2007, but the choice of the party flagbearers cannot be exempted from this. It started last December during the NEDG/BON Debate aired by Channels TV which saw Vice President Yemi Osinbajo of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Peter Obi of the People’s Democratic party (PDP), Ganiyu Galadima of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Khadija Abdullahi of Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN) and Umar Getso of the Young Progressives Party (YPP) go head-to-head. The height of the debate was the rebuttals issued by Peter Obi to Osinbajo that derided Buhari administration’s anti-corruption efforts as tantamount to closing the shop and chasing the criminals. Osinbajo’s rejoinder asked Obi, whether anything will be left in the shop if criminals looted the entire inventory. It also involved Professor Osinbajo conceding to the common consensus that Nigeria’s main problem is corruption.
Fast forward to the following year, 2019, where we began the Presidency Debate with the Arise TV interview. We followed closely with Kadaria Ahmed’s The Candidate interview and then the NEDG/BON Debate which the PDP’s flagbearer, Atiku Abubakar and President Buhari adamantly refused to attend leaving Oby Ezekwesili of ACPN, Fela Durotoye of ANN and Kingsley Moghalu of YPP to argue their case despite being within close proximity to the debate venue. What excuse did the President have not to be in Transcorp Hilton Hotel that night? Was it the campaign at Jos earlier that day? The quick solution abounds in the Presidential fleet, an hour’s flight to Abuja which could have easily sorted that out. Same thing for the “major” opposition candidate, Atiku Abubakar. In end, many Nigerians chose to excuse the ex-Vice President.
His Artikulated supporters said his main contender was unavailable to attend and so, he would win, judging by the Nigerian track record of Presidents we have had, including President Buhari who ascended the throne in 2015 without any debate. They left the mushroom parties in Oby Ezekwesili of ACPP, Fela Durotoye of ANN and Kingsley Moghalu of YPP, to purely entertain us as they laughed and mocked them that night, saying they stood no chance over the oligarchy of PDP and APC. If only they knew, that the All Progressive Congress (APC) will take pole position in the narrative, as the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) trailed votes early into the elections, causing widespread panic as the results trooped in late, dragging the results compilation into three days.
At that point, popular perception had it that the election was widely rigged. While we waited for the Kardashians- Kano, Kaduna and Kastina, a couple of die-hard PDP fans lost control, emotions spun out in a frenzy outrage as several discussions were held not only on Twitter or Facebook but in neighbourhoods disputing the re-emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari. Meanwhile, seeds of discord had already been sown between the Yorubas and the Igbos, a handiwork of politicians that was stressing the political divide as blood pressures were towering high. The Yorubas had chosen a side and fought against the Igbos trading unprintable words because ballot boxes were snatched in Lagos. It was a twitter handler that raised the heat and very quickly, a peaceful election turned tribalistic. People blamed the politicians for that Twitter trend, but they forgot that it was one hurtful twitter comment that began another ethnic divide.
As that went on, the votes from Kano came in. President Muhammadu Buhari pulled through with over a million votes, leaving PDP with a little above 300,000 votes, extending his winning streak. This was the point several PDP supporters have cried foul. My very dear friend, Prosper who spent one of those nights in my place could not hide his anger as to why APC should even garner votes. “Isn’t the four year tenure glaring for all to see?” He asked. I was indifferent. I simply told him it didn’t matter who won. The irregularities across states were already tilting the direction in which the election would not go. But Prosper had found it increasingly difficult to sleep. He kept monitoring the votes till late in the night and by 5am while I awoke from sleep, he was back on his phone, slamming the bed and rubbing his head. Saviour, the bartender at Markson Matt, West of Mines, here in Jos, said (at the time) it is only 12 states, I believe that we would win.” Saviour had last week boasted to me of his belief in PDP, parading himself as a die-hard fan of PDP.
As the elections tilted, news came in that popular singer, Olubankole Wellington also known as Banky W had gotten an early lead into the House of Representatives. When he pushed his ambition forward before the elections, people had equated him to Desmond Elliot, playing a sort of guilt trip narrative that the showbiz money wasn’t enough. They had rained insults on him, attacking his personality and referring to him as bald. Gorimapa was the word one lady on twitter had used on him. In all, Banky W was patient with MDP, flaunting the party all around. It later paid off with a ton of massive congratulations even though he didn’t emerge. This was when a certain set of Nigerians realised that if they had supported the Omoyele Sowores, Oby Ezekwesilis, Fela Durotoyes and Kingsley Moghalus maybe Nigeria would have indeed been better. But what was the response to these “four mushrooms”? Nigerians have destroyed their campaigns, tagging them dead on arrival- incompetent and incapable for 2019. This article is to remind you that Banky W scaled through, coming second, just 11 votes behind APC. What was your excuse for failing to vote the “young-uns” this time around? Oh, I know your excuse. Your excuse is that House of Reps is different from Presidential. Let me rub it in that if Banky W without any experience, track record and a shiny bald head got an early lead? You have no excuse, period.
Campaign wise, President Muhammadu Buhari said he would end corruption. We can all see where that one sided Kwaruption battle ended. It was sentimental and well directed to his personal conviction, not to forget the illegal removal of the Chief Justice which is impeachable as well. But your MCM and his party is corrupt, in fact, they specialise very well in corruption baptism and that is why Adams Oshiomhole can forgive their sins when they cross-carpet and redirect the searchlight away from themselves. PDP’s campaign promise was to get Nigeria working again. Atiku had proposed restructuring and the sale of NNPC as his mandate, plus jobs and economic advancement. Armed with Peter Obi a well-educated and committed economist, following his track record, (forget Atiku’s biography in Obasanjo’s book), their plans augured well. Isn’t it the same NNPC that has not been working up to full capacity they wanted to sell? What good has come out of it?
A Premium Times report of 2017 by Ifeoluwa Adeyemo “No Nigerian refinery worked up to 50% capacity in 2017” said that the state’s oil firm is in shambles.
Part of the excerpt reads:
“None of Nigeria’s four refineries worked up to 50 per cent of their capacity at any time during 2017, official figures from the state oil firm, NNPC show.
The NNPC has four major refineries, two in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, which combine to form the Port Harcourt Refining Company (PHRC) with a combined installed capacity of 210,000 barrels per stream day (bpsd); the Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Company Limited (KRPC) with an installed capacity of 110,000 bpsd; and the Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company Limited (WRPC) with an installed capacity of 125,000 bpsd.
All the refineries have a combined installed capacity of 445,000 barrels per day.
For 2017, the Warri refinery functioned highest in January, utilising 42.6 per cent of its capacity. The Port-Harcourt refinery, for the year, functioned at its peak in December, utilising 41.7 per cent.
The Kaduna refinery had the worst performance in terms of capacity utilisation in 2017. It functioned most in February utilising just 34.4 per cent of its capacity.”
A petroleum engineer, Bala Zaka added that the NNPC was comatose and there was no way refineries would be able to operate at 90 per cent capacity efficiency by 2019.
Moghalu promised to prioritize education and the economy, Ezekwesili chose education. Fela in that NEDG/BON debate was probably the only one that didn’t have a clear mandate. We all know what Sowore wanted. He wanted to take it back. Whatever that meant, I don’t know. Neither am I sure many Nigerians knew that. Away from the #100,000 he promised as minimum wage, not many things were that solid in his campaign. There you have the campaign analysis which was there in front of you as masses. Yet many felt, the mushroom parties were underdogs, well look at what Banky did. When the election results started going APC’s way, people were beginning to get angry, frustrated and threatened to live the country. They forget that the tales of Libyan returnees are not jokes. And getting a visa to Canada isn’t as easy as bribing a party stalwart here in Nigeria.
What do we want nitori olorun? Seriously, what do Nigerians want? I think we don’t know what we want. We are like a choosy spoilt child. We are the ones that said neither Sowore, Oby, Moghalu or Fela stood a chance. Yet we are the one that choose to eat our words. Many people hopped behind Atiku, the ones that vehemently refused to vote for Atiku said he was a thief and a looter. So other politicians are? Saints, Priests, Reverends? Is that not talking with both sides of the mouth? Ask anyone who voted APC why they did so, they said it was because of Atiku, vice-versa for PDP, they will say we should not go back to looting and that the corruption fight is still very much valid. The major contenders are still politicians who shake hands and cross-carpet parties for power. The desperation that runs between both candidates have stemmed deep. Atiku was once in Action Congress, now APC, same for Buhari who has changed parties since 2003.
What exactly do we want really? Politics isn’t rhetorics, hate speech or propaganda like our politicians do these days. It is a matter of choice. Not forgetting that politicians make mistakes but what is your rationale for voting? Do you vote based on sentiments, logic, fact, or some comment that you sheepishly failed to confirm? That’s for you to answer.
And when Nigerians have seemingly remembered their mistakes, they choose to berate the people that failed to get PVCs, or the ones that failed to get out to vote. Do you think it is everyone that is willing to stand for hours like you are? Isn’t the decision to vote or not also a right? Do you know how strong they are or their health condition? What if they are short-sighted like me that a single crack of the glasses might result into a panic attack or maybe they are asthmatic or scared of being intimidated and chased around?
Some people will argue again that there is no excuse. It is a worthy excuse. We could have avoided all the violence, bloodshed and long hours in counting the results of this election if we had tried an e-voting system but no is the average Nigerian answer. It can’t and won’t work! Do you see where we are now? What do Nigerians want in the name of God? What? What does the average Nigerian want for Christ sake? Nitori olorun? What would be pacifying for us?
Another four years is coming. No. Another set of elections for the Gubernatorial seat is coming. Let’s ask ourselves this heart break question. What do we want nitori olorun? Do we want an apology? A pat or a hug? Do we know which candidate is truly good for us? What do we want? The voice of the people is the voice of God, remember. The current Presidential election result is proof where each and every one of us stands. But what truly and exactly do we want?
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