Before I take off, an explanation is required. This is neither prophecy nor clairvoyance. It is certainly not an act of political brinkmanship. Sometimes I wish I had the power and influence of a godfather to ‘fix’ things politically because I’m still trying to come to terms with this caricature called democracy. If democracy is defined by the four-year ritual of choosing between little known knaves and their ‘repentant’ and pardoned counterparts, then count me out.

Nigeria's 2015 presidential election will hold on Feb. 14, 2015

No, I’m not a democrat: not by any stretch. No one should bother rehearsing the enormous benefits many nations in the Americas, Asia and Europe have garnered through democracy. Fortunately, I have lived all my life in this beleaguered enclave, so in a sense, it matters little to me what happens elsewhere. And maybe I do not really care what it is called – democracy, cinematography or geography – as long as the greatest number is served.

And here’s the most incongruous aspect of our sorry situation: the fellows who are very familiar with these so-called bastions of democracy are the self-same people who are the greatest impediment to our collective good. They are quick to claim democracy has no alternatives but are reluctant to subscribe to the sacrifices needed to spread the benefits. And to think the rest of us have been putting up with this anomaly; believing the goodies will begin to roll in in the never-arriving future, is probably more perplexing than their chicanery.

“Rome was not built in a day,” they often pontificate. This is supposed to be a powerful anodyne and a ploy to have us permanently postpone our expectations. I think the Rome they speak of will never ever be completed. And so we’ll keep deferring hope until we’re consumed by the vagaries of time. And all that is supposed to be democracy!

In case you’re not aware, the race for the prizes on offer in 2015 started a very long time ago. Don’t be fooled when they say talking 2015 now is a distraction to governance. For me, governance is a misnomer because it conveys the erroneous impression the people’s needs are supreme. Governance is the mere interlude between one election and another: election being the real deal. It is after each election that the certificate of return is issued: that dubious document that carries the official imprimatur to get on with the brigandage. So if anything will qualify as a distraction, it will be governance.

The last local council election in the FCT was characterized by abysmally low turn-out of voters, yet that stooge of a minister could still score it as credible. At some polling points, less than 1% of those registered to vote showed up. If this whole business is supposed to be for the people, and by the same people, how can 1% engender credibility?

In all honestly, I think the 2015 general elections are already rigged, because majority of voters will not bother to exercise their franchise. And the reasons are not far-fetched. Not having seen any rewards for their past electioneering choices and bogged down by abject poverty, apathy becomes a natural reaction.

How can a nation with over 70% of her population living below the famed poverty line even talk of free, fair and credible elections? How can people so severely brutalized by common deprivations and traumatized daily by brazen acts of kleptomania be trusted to make fair choices? Free and fair elections can never result among a people whose consciences can be priced as low as N500.

Imagine a scenario where you immobilize some people for two weeks in a dark room only to bring them out to compete in a 100m race with someone who has been practicing for over a week. That race is already rigged to throw up a preferred outcome.

Behind the scenes, the diabolical wheeling and dealing are already happening with little thought for the people. The cynical horse-trading that passes for politics has nothing to do with the greater good. So, mobilizing a largely ignorant and impoverished populace to validate these dubious choices will not miraculously transform self-interest to altruism. In the end, whatever good these so-called leaders manage to generate is presented as a favour done to the people. We deluge them with undeserved honours for doing things they are statutorily and morally obligated to do.

Let Jega and his INEC gang prepare all they can. He can engage all the gadgetry and sophistry possible. He can even ‘import’ Nigerians in diaspora to man critical organs of the electioneering behemoth. Even if the National Assembly was to grant him twice as much as he requested, it will matter little.

For as long as Nigeria is run the way it is, and Nigerians are treated as shabbily, the 2015 elections are already effectively rigged.


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