For four years, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the body responsible for budgeting for, planning and executing national elections in this country, smooth-talked 200 million people, if not the entire world, about its readiness and the irrevocability of 2019 dates it fixed. Its chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, and at least four of his lieutenants who seem most to be on permanent public relations duties for the commission, namely, Festus Okoye, Esq., Mike Igini, Esq., Oluwole Osaze Uzzi, Esq., and Rotimi Oyekanmi, insisted rather stubbornly that fears of impending postponement were unfounded. Just last Thursday, when the rumours reached deafening decibels as soon as word filtered out of a presidential address to the nation later that evening, INEC had maintained before, during and after that the two dates for national and state elections were cast in concrete. It’s a goooooooooooal, but no!
Considering that presidential and National Assembly polls were to go down on Saturday, February 16, a majority of those who kept vigil to herald the epochal day must have gone ahead to fall asleep after burying any lingering doubt, once it clocked 2am. Alas! the forlorn optimists slept too early. Because, at 2.30am, when all normal human beings not pursuing, or not being pursued by, abnormal things should have been snoring away, INEC struck. The body must be suffering from one of the downsides of assimilation.
I mean, you can’t spend years upon years fighting to ensure clean politics, and mingling and working with politicians without politics and politicians fighting back. Remember, in this country everything fights back: corruption, injustice, hate, name it. So, having partially recovered from the shock accruing from that last-minute (read last-second) shift, one can see clearly that Prof. Yakubu & Co. cannot alone bear the brunt. INEC engaging in double-speak and doing what it swore it won’t and in injury time should just be waved aside as one or two bad habits it picked up from politics and politicians.
Nigerians must thank God for little mercies, one of which is that our electoral umpire is not bad by nature, only by association. Yet, only an unpatriotic, shameless fool would not be alarmed by what transpired some 48 hours back. Imagine the monumental waste of trust, manpower, manhours and money; imagine the excuse. These ‘logistical nonsense’ people must think us zombies.
But, aren’t we? What can we do, what would we do, beyond the trademark initial gra gra? What have we ever done anytime we were taken for granted with impunity as happened in 2015 and now 2019? Nothing then, nothing now, nothing forever.
We are a foolish, docile, sleeping people. We shoot ourselves in the foot always, and laugh it off as nothing when indeed it’s a big something. We scream our indignation as if we are scandalised but the very next second we would carry on like nothing untoward ever happened. Truly, God created Nigerians wonderfully, specially, understandingly!
Which people would shut down own country for elections, especially elections such as ours which in six decades have at best been a quadrennial pyrrhic victory? How can our economy ever recover from the illiterate bumps and chasms occasioned by politics and elections? Who would pay for the monumental waste of last Saturday: the INEC billions squandered on failed logistics as well as the citizens’ billions spent on travel from every part of the world and country to polling units? What about the inhuman inconvenience and danger that we exposed youth corps members and other ad hoc staff to, overnight?
Who will go (or ever went) to jail for these recurring infractions? Which leader has shown leadership or taken responsibility enough by even apologising as proof that this nonsense would never rehappen? Rhetorical questions such as this battery are a clarion call meant for Nigerians who don’t want the Nigeria-is-a-joke tag by our enemies to stick beyond these general election. We must do something if we don’t want those who died in the run-up to last Saturday to have died, just as the labours of our heroes past, in vain!
Here’s why though, the weekend pains forced by INEC may not heal so fast. Our people suspect strongly that INEC knew for sure at least last Thursday that the polls wouldn’t hold as planned. Still, they stringed us along, watching mischievously as citizens closed shops and offices to travel to where they would vote; as youth corps members (other people’s children) arrived strange communities overnight to prepare to perform electoral duties the following day; as so-called sensitive materials were distributed and dispatched, etc. And, boom! At 3am (yes, 3 O’clock in the morning of D-Day) when every honest person should have been sleeping, the electoral umpire blew its whistle unexpectedly, calling off the process.
Proof that these people see the mess as mere comedy is embedded in the effrontery of the number one accomplice to attempt to sweeten the anti-climax by readily condemning INEC. The governing party could not even disguise its desperation to come clean. And, you should know why: it is eyeing our votes. Oh, my Nigeria, how I love thee!
But now, enough of crying over spilt milk, Compatriots. The postponement is a blessing in disguise. If the federal government and INEC and all those involved directly and indirectly drew blank after a four-year preparation, God who always shows up for this country shall in just one week show His hand. We now have more time to watch and pray, to bring down the harvest of change that’s been hanging for four good years!
2019 is the set time for Nigeria to win this perennial war of liberation. 2019 is the opportune moment for Nigerians to elect vision, hope and love. 2019 is one chance we cannot and should not miss as it might take another 60 years to repeat. God bless Nigeria!