At certain points in human history, a people is call upon to determine, affect, or improve the course and outcome of its own destiny. The major differentiator in the outcome of that opportunity lies mostly in the CHOICE that such people make.
The Nigerian people will be called upon shortly and given the opportunity to shape their fortune. They have been called upon in such manners before. They have, for reasons too painful to get into, failed woefully to fully answer those calls in the most productive way possible. The outcome is the litany of woes bedeviling the Nigerian state today. As we say, too painful, and so vivid that retelling the horror stories of the Nigerian entity is not, in our opinion, a fruitful exercise at this point.
We are not going to engage in that fruitless exercise here. Rather, we will use this opportunity to say the following to you - Yes, YOU PERSONALLY.
As you go to the polls to cast your vote tomorrow (in the coming days), we urge you to hold these in your heart:
- You are NOT powerless
- You are NOT alone
- You are NOT inconsequential
- You hold the powers in your hand to effect changes and affect the future of Nigeria in positive ways
- You are Nigeria
- You CAN perform miracles
- God, Allah, (or whatever deity you believe in) can NOT save Nigeria without your able assistance. That deity NEEDS your help.
How should YOU Vote?
Only YOU can make that decision. Only you know what's important to you. We can NOT make that decision for you, and we BEG you to PLEASE not let anyone else make that decision for you.We can suggest to you how to NOT vote, and we hope that you will take our suggestions as mere suggestions.
Do NOT vote tribalism - There is no one tribal group that is solely responsible for the ills bedeviling Nigeria today. We are all guilty. There is no one tribal group with the magic to right the wrongs with Nigeria. IF a candidate asks you to vote for him or her because of his or her ethnicity, that candidate is NOT looking out for you. We are in this boat together, and we all sink or float together.
The lack of employment, the absence of sound and functioning infrastructure, the pervasive corruption, the insecurity, the broken roads, the lack of potable water, the constant lack of electricity, the sense of helplessness - these things all affect EVERYONE in Nigeria equally. These things do NOT discriminate based on ethnicity. They affect the Igbos, the Fulanis, the Yorubas, the Ijaws, the Hausa, the Efiks, every one of the innumerable variations of tribes and ethnic groups in Nigeria. We all suffer equally.
These elections are NOT about religion - so we BEG you to let that consideration take the back seat as you go out to cast your votes. Christianity will not fill your children's stomach. Islam with not clothe them. Any other religious denomination will NOT provide gainful employment for the vast number of the unemployed roaming our streets. None of them will rebuild our schools, or furnish our hospitals with the supplies required for saving lives or reducing the ungodly high mortality rates in Nigeria. Your religion will stand you in good stead with your creator, but it will not by itself redress the drastic situation in Nigeria. If a candidate appeals to your religious sentiments, let the warning bells ring loud and clear in your head - that candidate has nothing concrete to offer you. This time, you need something concrete. Your future depends on it, so does that of your children, your neighbours, and the future generation of yet-unborn Nigerians.
You are powerful. Yes, you are. Vote for your future.
You are NOT alone. If you notice (or become aware) of polls irregularities, we ask you to note them and pass them on to any of the various news outlets (online, print, or others). Please report them to organisations that can do something about that information. Report them to the authorities on the ground, even if you are not sure that it will amount to much. You are not alone. A text message to any (or several) of the online news sites will also be productive, in our opinion. Whichever way, you choose to disseminate such information, we ask you to be cautious and save. Use any and all the Social media, if you have access to such. Whatever you do, though, PLEASE refrain from confrontations or public disturbance. YOU don't want to be a part of ANY cause of disruption, and you certainly do NOT want to provide any cover or excuse for any attempt to thwart your dreams and aspirations.
To our youths, market men and women, and others - We BEG you to NOT let the opportunity to make "quick money" overcome your desire for a brighter future for Nigeria. Please remember that any money or "gift" you take to influence your votes, or any inducements that you receive to disrupt elections or steal ballot boxes will be gone in a matter of days, weeks or mothns. You will spend it all.
You may spend it well, for now. But, what then? You would have mortgaged your future and the future of your children for peanuts. Don't forget that whoever gives you such "gifts" or "dash" will be looking to get their own "returns on investment" and such returns are invariably coming from the public money. Money that should otherwise be wisely invested to improve Nigeria for you. We know that, in this economic climate, refusing "egunje" is a difficult thing to do.
We BEG you to make the difficult decision today and in the coming days - for the benefit of all Nigerians. We also know that you will feel like a fool if you refuse "egunje" while others take it and celebrate the windfall. We know. But, we ask you to remember, that "Change" does not happen at once. Please just do your part today.
We ask you to please remember that YOU have an opportunity to move Nigeria forward in a positive direction. Don't believe that there is nothing that you can do. If anyone tells you that the outcome of the elections is already pre-determined and that whatever you do and however you vote is meaningless, don't believe them. You are not powerless. You are Nigeria. You are a Nigerian. This is your country. This is your property.
To our fellow Nigerians in uniform (The Nigerian Police Force, MoPol and the Nigerian Army, especially) - We want to appeal to your sense of patriotism and professional responsibility. You hold the power to help ensure a better future for Nigerians in your hands. You will be asked to play several roles in the conduct of these elections, and some of these roles will put you in very compromising situations. You will be exposed to people and elements seeking to use you and your apparatus for selfish interests, games and plans that will directly and indirectly be detrimental to your professional well-being in particular, and to the welfare of the Nigerian entity in general. We ask you to look into your souls, examine your conscience and think of the larger goals of the survival of the Nigerian state. We ask that you resist all inducements to make you work against the Nigerian people. You are, by definition, the protectors of everything Nigerian and every Nigerian. You are the guardians and you are professionals. When they call on you to fire on your own people, or break some legs or crack some heads or assist with the stealing of ballot boxes, or the intimidation of political opponents, we ask you to ask yourself if doing so will in any way be beneficial to Nigeria and Nigerians. If you can't in good conscience answer "Yes" to that simple question, you owe it to yourself, your children, your future, and your God (if you are a believer) to do everything in your power to refuse to be complicit. We ask you to remember that "I was just following orders" is no longer a defense or an excuse. You are a professional, not a political tool. Anyone looking at you and hoping to use you as a tool is NOT your friend. In fact, such person has no respect or regard for you and the esteemed position you occupy in the society. You are not a tool. You are a defender of the Nigerian state and the guardian of the Nigerian people. Please do not work against your people and their interests. Do NOT work against your own larger interests.
To our politicians - We ask you to remember that Nigeria does NOT exist in a vacuum. You have an opportunity to show the world that we are not a banana republic and that we can conduct our own affairs peacefully. We ask you to remember that politics need NOT be a do-or-die affair. We ask you to remember that Nigeria is bigger than you and that Nigerians DESERVE a progressive and sustainable political infrastructure if we are going to continue to exist as a country. We ask that you consider the events around you, the political upheavals the world over, and the burning desires of Nigerians to be free of political garbage and albatross. We ask you to consider all these things (and more) and ask yourself if you are willing to subject your country to the traumas and destabilisation that will accompany any and all electoral malpractices this time around. We ask you to remember that, although you may have the resources to escape the consequences of a stolen election, and you may be able to escape such with your families, the country that you will leave behind will NOT escape such. Ask yourself this: If the country you will flee to had been so ill-served by its own politicians and patriots, would you be fleeing there? Would a fugitive life be a wonderful thing to bequeath to your offspring? We don't think so. And, it does not have to be that way. You have the power to ensure that it doesn't turn out that way. Keep these elections free, safe, clean and violent-free, and you will be doing a great honour and service to your motherland.
Fellow Nigerians, we ask you to go out and VOTE. Stay in the long lines today, tomorrow and in the coming days. Stay in the long lines, rain or sunshine. Stay there and stay put until you have voted. Then, if possible (and if your safety is not in question), stay there and be an observer. Stay there and watch out for your vote. You will be guarding your future. Whatever you do, whatever obstacles you have to overcome, whatever hardship you have to go through PLEASE VOTE. If you are prevented from exercising your rights to vote, let the world hear about it. Send information to Sahara Reporters, or to any other online website of your choice. Do your part - it is the least you can do for your future and for your country.