I have just read an article here on SaharaReporters, titled “AlMajiri And Youth Corpers” posted on 27 April, 2011 and supposedly written by Emeka Enechi. This is to inform Nigerians and all lovers of Nigeria who have read that piece that it is not written by Emeka Enechi.
It is originally a Facebook posting by a fellow that goes by the moniker “Deadlytruth Speaks”. Indeed, I had actually responded to him on Facebook (I shall reproduce that response below). I have spoken to Emeka Enechi. He has confirmed to me that he did not send this article to the Nigerian Village Square (NVS), SaharaReporters or anywhere else it is being published in his name. So, what we have here is this faceless fellow using unsuspecting people’s names to post his inflammatory, cowardly and misinformed write-up in order to garner credibility.
Below is my response to this article on Facebook:
“The Almajiri, uneducated in Western education but schooled in Islamic education, did something no army of internet warriors could dare. There is an internet group dreaming digital dreams of revolution. The Almajiri did not dream. They acted – with their own electoral revolution. They were the only people, it seems, that understood that defending their vote was a do or die battle and that those who impoverish the people by stealing their wealth deserve to die”. – Deadlytruth Speaks
Stop romanticizing what happened up North! Right now, I am angry at the stigmatisation of Buhari, because I believe that the violence is actually a sin of the failed establishment as a whole which they are trying to rope around him as a scapegoat; however, those who went out in the streets killing people and burning churches weren’t defending democracy, because they have no idea what it is!
This whole thing has been building up since Jonathan showed interest in the presidential election and typical of our politics, the conscientization of the North took the form of accusing Jonathan of breaching the zoning arrangement to take the place of the North. Of course, it was a party arrangement (PDP) and ordinarily shouldn’t have raised that much ruckus outside its ranks, but in the circumstances where the PDP is the party in government with weak or compromised opposition, it was interpreted as the South effectively seizing government from them – an opportunity not to complete Yar’Adua’s term. It didn’t matter to them that power in the hands of Northern presidents, heads of state and leaders did nothing to better their lot, because our national story has always hinged on such propaganda tangled in the emotions of the immediate. For politicians and establishment climbers in the North, harnessing street anger to serve their immediate political ends has always been an art and, of course, in an environment of personality rather than issues politics, it’s quite easy to light the fuse and watch the conflagration. Ignorance and illiteracy help make it easier to lead them by the nose! You can sit there and claim they have Islamic education; but while not disparaging that, I can assure you that whatever the elements of that education up to when they have it, it does not prepare them for a democratic culture, just as Western primary education doesn’t prepare anybody for much down South.
When the conscientization took the form of the North finding a consensus candidate to challenge Jonathan within the PDP and they said they’d found one in Atiku, it took it a notch higher emotively, because even though he wasn’t everybody’s cup of tea up North, his loss to Jonathan in the primaries was interpreted as Jonathan using Nigeria’s money to buy the presidency, so as to keep it in the South. It was no coincidence that it was after Atiku’s loss that Buhari began to get the massive crowds while Jonathan got no crowds there. Buhari was seen thereafter as the hope of the North that has been unjustly denied their right to Aso Rock. Think whatever you want, but for the Northern commoners, this is how they understand leadership; that’s how they understand justice. As they came out and welcomed Buhari, they were oblivious of the fact that the crowds in the North weren’t replicated in the South. They had been told that everybody in Nigeria wants PDP out and that Buhari had already taken the South by choosing a popular Christian pastor in the form of Tunde Bakare. All they were waiting for was coronation. To the ordinary Northerner the requirement of 25% of votes in two-thirds of the states of the Federation was Greek. All they had to do was come out and vote and Buhari would win the presidency back to the North and justice would have been served!
When this did not happen, they naturally thought they were robbed. This was easy, because elections in Nigeria have always been robbery. They know this and by the time questions began to be asked about certain aspects of the voting, including the very questionable ones of the South-South and South-East, it became a case of 1 plus 1 being 20! Violence, when it started may not have been predetermined; but once it started there was enough anger and disappointment in the street to take it farther! Singling out the PDP elite was natural, because they were the collaborators with those who took away the right of the North.
Of course, all your hypotheses about the Corps members and what they know about the North or their conception of the North is just unfortunate. The assumption fails to acknowledge that most university students are usually well informed about Nigeria before they finish school and that there are many Southern students in Northern universities and tertiary institutions and that there are Southerners whose whole lives have been spent up North. Indeed, to make out that North-South interaction is some strange phenomenon in 2011 is insulting! Yes, the North and South are culturally different, but there is no homogenous North either and there is nothing in this violence that gives any indication of a cultural war or a reaction against being looked down upon.
There is also nothing, apart from in your imagination, to indicate that Corps members were against CPC. If that were the case, Buhari would not have had his best electoral performance ever in the North. Buhari’s real problem and by extension the problem of his party was that most Southern politicians have never forgiven him for the humiliation he put Southern politicians through as head of state and the selectiveness with which he treated Northern politicians and their Southern counterparts he detained. Corps members had nothing to do with his troubles in the North, because he had none there! Corps members were targeted out of ignorance and suspicion, based on the prevailing narrative that they were “foreigners” that were used to deprive the North of its due. This was the first time they were being used for this purpose and conspiracy theory amongst the commoners is that they were used specially to take the presidency away from them.
The point here is that a dangerous narrative has been set in motion since Jonathan decided to go against his party’s constitution, changed his party’s leadership, twisted everybody’s hands and spent truckloads of cash in order to get the presidency. There had been violence against PDP in Damaturu, Lafia, Gombe and so on far before the election and we had witnessed it in Jos, Abuja, Suleija, etc far before the election and even in worse forms. Rather than a robust response and massive public awareness programme to counter the prevailing narrative, including public demonstrations and interpretation of the voting process to make it clearer to the ordinary Northern commoner, Jonathan sat mutely, intent on winning by high-tech; while other members of the establishment simply waited to do what they do best, which is steal votes to shore up their own constituency and show to the President that they’ve ‘delivered’. That is why even in places they needed not to rig for him to win they still had to rig, because godfathers and rent dependants need to prove that they ‘delivered’ and delivered good. In fact, those who manipulated it all also padded up Buhari’s votes in places to make it look a ‘fair’ contest and cast suspicion away from Jonathan figures. Their real intent is to ensure there is no run-off. Whatever it takes to make Jonathan cross at first instance and make Buhari look better than he looked before electorally and plant enough in his votes to question in court if necessary was all they were about and that was what they delivered.
To be honest, what we had with the mayhem was a tragedy, not a revolution or anything in defence of any vote. It was gratuitous violence. You never got anyone amongst these protesters articulating anything about what they are about, because those at the head of it were just drugged and jobless teenagers who saw this as an excuse to vent their frustration against the system and those they think are the cause of their troubles. This was not a protest against bad government or anything pursuant to electoral fidelity. Yes, the Presidential vote had problems, but these aren’t what our legal or judicial system cannot tackle. The truth is that the Jonathan people panicked too much and rigged unnecessarily in several places because it wasn’t just a case of simple majority but geographical spread, while the Buhari people were over-optimistic in assessing people’s anger against the PDP, the electoral value of Tunde Bakare and in underrating the kind of baggage Buhari has in the South, quite apart from the fact that CPC had little in terms of structures anywhere. Jonathan, Buhari, the PDP and the failed and still failing political establishment all contributed to that violence, but there is nothing in it to be admired or romanticised as some sectionalist or class expression of revolutionary anger. It is dangerous and bloody ignorance masquerading as righteous indignation. I think we should be careful not to intellectualize evil or give it a cloak of justice or reasonability it does not deserve.