THE DAY OF INFAMY By Nosa Igiebor

Since after the Civil War, which threatened the continuing survival of Nigeria as one nation, whenever we are faced with serious challenges, we kick them far than the road. And we just move on. We are always moving on. But the question is, moving on to where?

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Anytime Nigeria moves on, it’s going backwards and backwards to the abyss. Most of the rest of Africa, including nations far less naturally blessed with resources, is striving to make genuine, measurable progress. But we are resigned to our country’s inexorable slide to chaotic irrelevance.

We have grown out of our penchant for perambulation. That is moving round and round our problems, as Fela inimitably captured it in one of his classic musical ode to the confusion and corruption that blight a big, fat country as Nigeria. Yes, big and fat for nothing, and tragically useless. It has increasingly become a danger to itself and the whole continent. If Nigeria implodes, the rest of Africa would feel the pains. And it wouldn’t be pretty at all.

One of the parameters for measuring the progress of any nation is the quality of its leadership, the vision or lack of, of those who preside over its affairs. When a nation is saddled with leaders, who are inebriated with power and who wallow in mediocrity, the nation suffers. Confronted daily with a myriad of social pathologies that overwhelms their lives and the complete absence of any remediation from the government, the people feel helpless, defeated.

Elections give them the only opportunity to make their silent voices heard. But their entitled oppressors always manipulate elections. Those who betray their trust and mercilessly exploit their weaknesses also determine what their will should be. They are commanded to either ‘vote for us, sell your vote, or we just take it’.

On Febuary 23, a day of infamy, we witnessed what Fela satirized as                   govement magic in another one of his hit songs. The government and the ruling party connived to make a mockery of democratic elections. They committed the electoral equivalence of a massive bank heist. On top of the hardship they have visited on Nigerians in almost four years, they showed them that their votes don’t matter and won’t count. The message was raw and brutal: ‘We are in control and we can’t be removed.’ What we think, what we feel and what we want don’t prick their deadened conscience. And they mock us to accept the reality they have enacted, that we are stuck with them, whether we like it or not.

Bewildered and desperately seeking to come to grip with the charade the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, displayed in the so-called collation of results, Nigerians resurrected the defunct Soviet Union’s late ruthless dictator, Joseph Stalin, to bear witness to their plight. His pithy take on elections spoke eloquently to what happened on the day of infamy. “The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.”

After he has benefited from the worst election in the last 20 years – and we have seen terrible elections – President Muhammadu Buhari wants us to believe that he will “build on the foundations of peace, the rule of law and opportunities for all.” And those fake democrats, who were complicit in the wanton desecration of democracy, demand that, “genuine democrats should accept the outcome of the election.” Then we move on again, as we inevitably do when a clear and present danger threatens our cursed nation.

But why are we surprised and outraged? Did we not see it coming? Yes, we did. Yet we were unprepared for the brazenness of their impunity, the depth of their deviousness and their preparedness to defy our collective will and wish and ignore our cries. They rudely reminded us, just in case we forgot because we could vote that, we don’t’ matter.

Before the elections, or more appropriately selections, each time Buhari was asked if he would graciously accept defeat, his response was telling. He said on different occasions, “I will win”, “Nobody will unseat me”, “I will congratulate myself.” That reflects his mindset that he is ordained to be president, not subject to the examination of his performance in his first tenure by those who gave him their mandate.

Now let’s get this clearly. He owes us nothing. We owe him for being our president. We should stop trying to hold him to account. We ought to be blaming his predecessors for his third-rate performance, not him. We should be in immeasurable gratitude to him for discriminately ‘fighting corruption’, “technically defeating” Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa and mismanaging the economy to be one of the worst performing economies in Africa.

When President Goodluck Jonathan called Buhari, his main opponent in 2015, to concede the election before the final result was announced, he couldn’t believe what happened. Since that famous call, he has expressed his amazement several times that a sitting president, with all the immense powers at his disposal, could allow himself to be defeated and step away in dignity. He grudgingly praises Jonathan for that singular act of statesmanship and equally mocks him for his naivety.

Buhari is not Jonathan, and the total sham of an election that has handed him a second term is an undisguised mockery of his predecessor and a disdain for Nigerians. All the gains made from the incremental but steady improvement in our electoral system under Jonathan, have been completely erased. And the national electoral commission pretends to be still independent. After the Osun State governorship-election fiasco and the latest shambolic elections it conducted, the independent in its nomenclature is now meaningless. We don’t need to consult the oracle to know that, the next elections this weekend will even be worse.

Many of those Femi Fani-Kayode has described as “useful idiots” and their millions of simpletons want Atiku Abubakar to accept ‘defeat’ and congratulate the ‘winner’ in the national interest. But they did not indulge the slightest consideration of national interest when they unleashed the army and their thugs on helpless voters; deliberately suppressed and blatantly prevented voting in many places; thump-printed ballot papers in millions; buying votes; giving cover for hundreds of thousands of under-age voters; wrote their own results; altered the genuine ones; and terrorise and took many electoral officers hostage etc.

In addition, two different sets of electoral rules were applied in the north and south. In the face of these widespread violations of all the electoral laws and rules, is inexplicable silence from INEC.

For Atiku to legitimise the fraud that has further scandalised our country by conceding just like that, is to ask us to move on once again without addressing all the salient issues the elections have magnified to our collective shame and discomfort. As noted earlier, that would only accelerate Nigeria’s descent into chaotic irrelevance and, ultimately, a failed state.

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