Okay, lets talk politics.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t take an interest in politics; politics will take an interest in you.
For about 3 months, I’ve listened to (and made) various comments on all the politics going on in the country (Nigeria) at the moment. Twitter has a way of making people seem learned including the serial retweeters, the band-wagoners, the people who like to always have a differing opinion et all. Every Emeka, Tunde and Ibro has an opinion. This is a good thing. I won’t lie, its been fun. Especially with all the debates and monologues. From all the registration drama to the various campaign ads and strategies, to the nodding episode to the various debates and then to the postponement.
It seems to me like there are about three schools of thought that have emerged.
The first, are the ones who believe that Nigeria is a hopeless cause, and that nothing can be done about it. The second, believe that even though the situation seems bleak, they should not give up and still perform their civic duty. To fulfill all righteousness. The third, like the first, believe that its a hopeless cause but will still go ahead and vote anyway. These are the ones that make statements like “At the end of the day, Jonathan will still win and we all know it. Vote for him so that your vote won’t be wasted.” These are the ones that irk me the most.
I listened to all the presidential candidates during the debates. Did i see the perfect candidate? No.
I think Ribadu is a tad too proud.
I think Buhari may be a bit too rigid and set in his ways.
Shekarau sounds good but i wonder if that’s all there is to it, ‘Sound’
Dele Momdu? Too much of a business man and nearly not as knowledgeable as I’d like.
Goodluck Jonathan? I will get to that in a minute.
Pat Utomi, Dr Dara and Mrs Ndok (I like to call them The Smart Kids): Intelligent but will they withstand the enormous pressure that goes with The Office?
Chris Okotie -_-
So no, no perfect candidate. Will I vote one of them? Definitely.
I believe every one has the right to chose whom they vote for. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. However, some people need to be guided in the right direction. I’m not here to tell you who to vote. I myself haven’t even made that decision yet. However, i can tell you who i’m not voting. Mr Jonathan. Not because i think he hasn’t performed up to par since he stepped into office, which i think he hasnt. Not because innocent people are being slaughtered on the regular in Jos and he refuses to do anything decisive about it. Not because i think he belongs to a party that has overstayed its welcome. Not because he doesn’t have any tangible substantial plan to move this country forward, which was obvious from his debate/monologue/soliloquy. No, despite all of these, i may still have added him to my list of ‘considerables’
It was when he chose to not attend two of the three debates he was invited for that he lost any chance of winning my vote. Yes, not all the candidates attended all the debates, but he is the incumbent president. When the president of a country looks at an invitation by the youth of that nation to come and tell them his plans and decides not to honour it without any reason or apology? Flagrant disregard, no? And then to explain it away in a self ‘debate’ as a “communication gap”??? Seriously??? Come on!
But he’s wise. He has the average masses in his pocket. The ones who don’t have access to forums like facebook and twitter and the rest where they can sample various opinions and ideas. The one’s who’ve never heard of Governor Shekarau. The one’s who think “that Pat Utomi man speaks too much grammar”. The one’s who don’t have access to watch the debates. The ones who watch but cannot understand half of what is going on. The one’s who line up while the First lady doles out sleeping mats and provisions, while making statements like “I decided to share from the little i have” (Excuse me ma, but if your husband was doing his job properly you wouldn’t have to share your ‘little’) These are the one’s he’s got. And they are the majority.
So what do we, the enlightened minority do about it? The ones who know better? Or should know better? We either shake our heads at their ignorance and our seeming helplessness. Afterall, they are smarter and better off than us with our fancy shmancy education…right? They have more power, even though Knowledge is supposedly power…yes? Some not only shake their heads but go as far as joining them. Afterall, if u can’t beat them, join them. Like there’s some prize for being with the majority. Like if you vote for someone and the person doesn’t win, something bad’ll happen so you better not ‘waste your vote’. “Don’t waste your vote voting for him, he can’t win.” <—–That statement right there makes me see red. I wonder how many people said that of President Obama of the USA.
I used to be part of the ‘head shakers’. I remember when the laundry lady Iya Tope (Mama Tee, as i like to call her) came to iron one day during the registration period and she decided to register at a booth close to my house in Ikeja. She was frantically calling one of her friends to come quickly and register that she’d picked a tally number for her. I was quite impressed at her eagerness. Knowing that she lived at Otta, i asked her if she was planning to stay over at my house during the voting period to enable her vote. She said, rather offhandedly, that she wasn’t planning on voting. I asked why and she said there was no point, that the person that was going to win was going to win. I asked her why she bothered to register and she said she just wanted to have the card. Awww, Precious simple Mama Tee, i thought. I shook my head.
I also remember how one Twitterian recounted his experience with a cleaner in his office. I remember laughing as he talked about how the guy said he was voting for Jonathan and not Ribadu because Ribadu was too thin and didn’t look like a president. That the rest spoke too much grammar. I remember commenting and saying that while it was funny, it was also sad because that’s probably what the average Nigerian was thinking. I shook my head.
Matter of fact i kept shaking my head right up until 29th March, 2011. The day the Smart Kids debated. I listened to Prof. Utomi, Dr. Dara and Mrs Ndok wow me with their substantial tangible ideas. Even when they had differing opinions and approaches on issues, each made individual valid points. But i knew i couldn’t vote for any of them and it was frustrating. They didn’t stand a chance. I hadn’t even heard of two of them before that day. I shook my head. I kept shaking right up until the point Dr. Dara gave his closing statement. He specifically addressed the youth. He pointed out how he knew that he was the minority. He referred us back to Obama’s campaign and how the youth were largely responsible for his victory. Organising community action through various platforms, social media particularly. Something began to stir in me. Maybe i’m not as powerless as i thought. Maybe i should’ve taken time out to explain to Mama Tee, why it was important for her to vote. Maybe she’d have gone on to convince her friends and even her husband who’d have told his friends. Maybe if the other guy had explained to the cleaner the error in his judgement, maybe he’d have convinced his fellow cleaners. Maybe if you’d actually volunteered your opinion when that cab driver was ranting…
We are not as powerless as we’d like to think.
You, privileged to have an education, a better understanding of things, you owe it to those who aren’t as fortunate as you are, to enlighten them. Tell them how their lives will get better if they vote wisely. Show them the way. Get up, get out and vote. Don’t just sit on your high chair, criticizing.
Is it too late? Will it be enough? Will we get it right this time? Maybe, maybe not. But you don’t stop trying. If not now, then maybe in 2015 when we have to elect again. But you just don’t stop.
“No one makes a bigger mistake than he who does nothing because he can do only a little.” – Edmund Burke
The national assembly elections got moved. I see a lot of disparaging comments about INEC and Nigeria. Yes we don’t like it. Yes, they should have been better organised. But we will still step out to vote. It may not be convenient, but we will do it.
Bomb blast at INEC office in Suleja, Niger State. Youth Corpers killed. My friend’s cousin may or may not have been involved. I’m outraged. Does this mean we should cower and let them have their way? Should we sit at home and let them win? Hell No! We channel this anger. We get up and say enough is enough. That’s the only way we can honour those who lost their lives.
You think it doesn’t affect you? Wait till they put in place policies that make your life hell. Wait till they don’t fix power and other infrastructure that can give you a higher standard of living.
We pay the price now or we all pay a higher price later.
And it shouldn’t just end there. After they come into power lets monitor them; hold them accountable. Speak out when we see they’re not living up to their manifestos. Let them know that they cannot just do as they please.
As i write this, I’m witnessing my sister viciously take on my cousin on her wanting to vote Jonathan for presidency because “at least he’s not an Hausa man”. Apparently, she served in the North and she believes “Hausas are very tribalistic”
I’m proud of my sister. She’s showing her the way. What about you?