Those waiting for a “I-told-you-so” moment presented by the cancellation and temporary postponement of Nigeria’s smoke-and-mirrors exercise otherwise known as elections, should resist their feeling of savory satisfaction.
“I told you so” is often the refuge of the unserious and inactive, living from one such moment to another while doing nothing constructive and redeeming in-between, even when, as in Nigeria, such moments abound.
The others now “flaring up” with righteous indignation because of this incident also have a question to answer: if yours is not sham reaction, then, where have you been all this time? This, also, is the same question for those Nigerians now lashing out at their president whom they now conveniently remember as the one who appointed the INEC chairman, in typical kneejerk reflexive action of pinning the blame; they have also conveniently forgotten the ethnic politics which forced the president’s hand in this choice of an appointment—but, who really cares, now?
What do peoples living in Nigeria really expect of Nigeria, a failed State forcefully saddling over human beings who, by contrast, should have a lot of potential? Do they actually expect elections to work in Nigeria where and when nothing else has worked, or has been working? Even should the mirage of “free, fair and credible elections” somehow materialize in Nigeria, how would that solve Nigeria’s basic structural problems which invariably feed into any and all Nigeria’s and Nigerian processes?
“Mene, mene, tekel urphasin...” That handwriting has been on the wall for Nigeria since 1904; neither colonial Amalgamation nor Independence in 1960 nor various declarations of “Republic” since 1964, not even Nigeria’s pyrrhic so-called victory over Biafra in 1970, nor the return of military men to civilian government in Nigeria, nor the mouthing of “Democracy” by Nigerians can change that. What can be so difficult about understanding this? Even Time itself, rather than efface the writing, has only brought sharpening to the contrast and made imminently ominous the meaning.
Yet, the peoples living in Nigeria pretend that they do not know what the problem is, or that they do not know what the real solution is either. The world keeps patronizing such (at best) hypocrisy and psychological disease, and outright lying to self; and in so doing, has become similarly guilty of it, in a co-dependency relationship. Thus, the world is all too happy to send “observers” to Nigeria’s elections: what do they exactly want to observe? Where else in the world does a “country” seal its borders on land, sea and in the air, redeploy and arm its military and reshuffle Police commands specifically to conduct just one of multi=part “free, fair and credible elections”? What else is there to observe, given this antecedent? And, by the way, having observed the same elections in Nigeria four years ago, and unanimously come to the conclusion that they were worse than any elections anywhere in the world, what did the same world do with, and about that observation?
Whatever these elections portend, whether they hold or not, the peoples of Nigeria need to begin to take seriously the fact that Nigeria is a relationship that has never worked, will not work and does not work now; the fact that it is a forced relationship is even more damning. Everyone with experience knows that there are bad relationships: a bad relationship does not mean that the participants are bad in their respective individual selves. But, knowing, staying with / in, and insisting on maintaining, a bad relationship is a negative judgment on the character and motives of a person so involved.
Nigeria is as bad as relationships get. Nigeria brings out the very worst of those forced into its relationship. Relationship Nigeria corrupts all participants, and tarnishes the images of all, bringing nothing but dishonor (poor Professor Attahiru Jega!), disrepute and humiliation. Defend, cling to or insist on Nigeria, then, you have sold your soul and personal honor and become what you defend.
The peoples living in Nigeria have mechanisms to disengage themselves from this pernicious relationship. A conference of the different ethnic nations who have been forced to live together as Nigeria, to hammer out a new relationship, new relationships or non-relationship and a new direction, is quite feasible. Self Determination is the strongest paradigm: it is the inalienable and exercisable right of ethnic groups to seek out and establish their own sociopolitical, economic and physical existence; it also is now interpreted to spell out the right and empowerment of any aggrieved citizenry or society to completely halt and jettison its pernicious government and change its non-performing State. A Referendum is an effective sharp instrument serving these effective civil processes. All these options are open to the peoples suffering in Nigeria.
It’s not about the elections: it’s about a bad relationship called Nigeria!
Oguchi Nkwocha, MD
A Biafran Citizen