By Abuchi Obiora
Part One of this discourse examined and found out the proper, unbiased and true definition of the two key words in this work (Revolution and Youth) and explored the necessitating factors for the present, still peaceful youth revolution, sweeping across our country, Nigeria. This Part Two identifies and evaluates the strength of the latent but potent power of the revolution which is contesting to recover the soul of Nigeria from the forces that have long snatched and held the country hostage since independence.
Since independence, Nigeria has been in the tough grip of pseudo-feudalist forces of Northern Nigeria and their paid stooges and agents across the other regions of the country. This work will not be enough to go into details on how the take-over of the country by the pseudo-feudalists happened, but suffice it to be said that it had origin in the divide-and-rule system of the British government in the administration of their countries secured from the Berlin Conference of 1864/1865. Some of the people who forbid the teaching of the subject called History in Nigerian schools will not like to hear this story, but I have no apology to render to them for relating the true history of Nigeria.
The British government had on departure from Nigeria at independence felt it convenient to empower a particular region of Nigeria governed by an immigrant minority ethnic group, the Fulani, because of the belief of the British government that the Fulani ethnic group, which had perfected a feudal system of obnoxious tax collection, will better serve their purpose of subtly controlling other indigenous ethnic nationalities in Nigeria; the British had thought, albert rightly, that these other ethnic nationalities in Nigeria were too communal and egalitarian to be trusted. The British believed that these egalitarian ethnic nationalities could easily renege as neo-imperialist agents for the kingdom of Britain.
It is, most probably because of this early history of Nigeria that the country has been seen, since independence, as the private holding of a section of the country, the Fulani-controlled Northern Nigeria, who erroneously believe that they must always rule the country, either through military dictatorships or semblances (as it has been most times) of democratically-elected governments.
Till now therefore, none of the sons of the other numerous ethnic nationalities (including recently, Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan, (the former came to power because of the need to appease the Yoruba’s after the death of Chief M.K.O Abiola while the later ascended power after the death of his principal), had ever has the chance, unless by coincidence (as has been revealed above) or as a proxy President/Head of state (as in the case of Ernest Shonekan) for the Fulani-controlled Northern Nigerian political class, to emerge on his own merit or the merit of his ethnic nationality, as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
It is on the strength of this long history of injustice that the Nigerian youths who evidently have been at the receiving ends of inept leadership by people who obviously do not attain political power by merit, have seen an opportunity in the 2023 elections to fix round poles in round holes in the choice of their leaders.
The march to a new Nigeria took roots in 2020, though it had started with the youth unrest in Lagos and some parts of Nigeria during the year 2012. The spontaneous #EndSARS protest of October 2020 was a precursor to the present youth revolution presently sweeping across Nigeria. In that protest and for the first time in the history of post-civil war Nigeria, the Nigerian youths found out that they could present a united front to show their grievances to the government authorities. During that #EndSARS protests, Nigerian youths, angered by long years of bad leadership at the hands of tested, failed and not trusted political class occupied the streets to, not only vent their anger on police brutality which was the immediate cause of the protest, but also vehemently kick against the harsh economic conditions in the country, which has been taking a deep toil amongst the youths.
For this reason, the frustration of Nigerian youths which has caused the social awareness that has taken the form of a silent youth revolution is pregnant with some predictable consequences if it is ignored by government authorities. Though the youths were chased away from the streets by the government who believed that they were illegally occupying the streets, the Nigerian youths have discovered a legal framework in the 2023 elections to properly redress their grievances.
With this background, it is no surprise, therefore, that the Nigerian youths lost hope on the possibility of fixing the country by both the ruling political party, the APC, and the major opposition political party the PDP. The choice of Mr. Peter Obi and Dr. Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed as the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates respectively, by the Labour Party has broken the ice of youth dormancy in the politics of Nigeria.
The Labour Party, being a product of the efforts of the organized Nigerian Labour Union (including the Trade Union Congress, TUC), the marginalized Nigerian youths, the Nigerian Technocrats, the intelligentsia, and the vast majority of Nigerian masses, recently took the challenge to wrestle Nigeria out of the hands of the pseudo-feudalists and their political allies and cronies across Nigeria.
The entry of Mr. Peter Gregory Obi, born 19th July, 1961, a Harvard-trained Economist and a former Executive Governor of Anambra State who prefer to call himself a trader, into the Nigerian Presidential race for 2023 elections under the canopy of the Labour Party, has unsettled the conservative, feudalist forces in Nigeria, shifting the naira-based politics of the status quo to issue-based, goal-oriented progressive politics.
A humble and seasoned politician, the charismatic, amiable Peter Obi, with a sonorous, falsetto voice, has brought a new hope to the marginalized Nigerian youths, the neglected Nigerian labour force, and the relegated technocrats across Nigeria, whose views for the governance of the country have never been sought by the less knowledgeable current members of the political class. Is it any wonder that the country has ran amok in all areas of sociopolitical and economic considerations?
With his reputation for being a prudent manager of public funds, Mr. Peter Obi has endeared himself to the Nigerian youths who believe, like many Nigerians, that the dilemma of Nigeria which is responsible for her non development is squander-mania by public servants who also utilize all available means to corruptly sleaze Nigerians of their patrimony.
Mr. Peter Obi’s choice of his Vice Presidential candidate for the 2023 elections was another booster to the rising popularity of the Labour Party as the only available hope for the emancipation of Nigeria from the shackles of oppression by pseudo-feudalists and their political cronies who have held the country hostage since independence.
Dr. Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed, the Vice Presidential candidate of the Labour Party is one of the best amongst his peers. Born July 7th 1969, an Economist, an Educationist and a seasoned politician, Dr. Yusuf Baba-Ahmed has carved a niche for himself as an incorrigible and transparent politician; he has once served briefly as a Senator of the Federal Republic. While presenting his running mate to Nigerians at a ceremony in Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, Mr. Peter Obi in his message titled “The Journey to Nigeria’s Rebirth Begins Today”, said that “Our mission is to give full expression to our democracy by moving our country from consumption to production”. He introduced his running mate as “One of Nigeria’s youngest and brightest personalities, who have distinguished himself in various areas of human endeavors”.
Exhibiting an unusual calm borne of immense knowledge and wisdom, and a composure that gave an indication of a forthright man with fortitude which is a product of a strong character, Dr. Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed, responded, while fielding questions from his interviewers in Arise Television, that “My answer is that we do…………. we do have solution.” He had answered in this very simple way, without divulging any information, to the question whether they have an answer to the present insecurity in Nigeria.
To buttress their joint capacity to tackle the insecurity problem in Nigeria, he further added that “His Excellency Peter Obi and I are completely different makes from these politicians”. Nigerians understood the politicians he was referring to, and for what reasons. These politicians obviously include a Vice Presidential candidate of one of the political parties who was seen openly hobnobbing and dinning in his house with one of the most dangerous killer bandits in Nigeria.
There is little doubt that the duo of Mr. Peter Obi and Dr. Yusuf Baba-Ahmed understand the task of rebuilding Nigeria from her present socio-political and economic woes. As campaign triggers off in September 2022, the government and its agencies must exhibit what ‘Economics’ calls ‘Uberima Fide’ (utmost good faith) before, during, and after the elections, to make sure that the electoral processes and all the extant laws are strictly adhered to.
To have a hitch-free process in the 2023 general elections, let us consider the expectations of Nigerians from their government before, during and after the elections.
BEFORE THE ELECTIONS:
From all indications, the Nigerian electoral umpire, the INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission), enabled with the new electoral law signed by the President has done a great job in the preliminary work to conducting the general elections in 2023. But more efforts need to be put in order to achieve hitch-free, free and fair elections. The issue of the executive arm of the government (the presidency) appointing the officers to serve in the INEC has been one of the topics in national discourse, and Nigerians hope to see a situation where the INEC is completely disentangled from the control of the executive arm of the government in future elections.
The INEC did not do well enough in the just concluded voters registration exercise. Nigerians observed that the INEC were not totally transparent in providing a level playing ground in all the geopolitical regions of the country during the registration exercise. Some areas of the geopolitical zones experienced man-made, artificial hiccups during the registration exercise, obviously (as suspected by some people), to disenfranchise prospective voters from those regions who may not be keen on voting the political party that constituted the incumbent government back to power.
Secondly, but for the lawsuit by an CSO (Civil Society Organization) mandating it to extend the period of the registration exercise to 31st July, 2022, the INEC would have long stopped the registration exercise on June 30th, 2022, their initial deadline for the registration exercise. Thirdly, there have been online video reports of hundreds of thousands – possibly millions – of PVCs dumped across several High ways and drainages across Nigeria. These voters card dumpsites were discovered by patriotic Nigerians. I do not know whether or not INEC investigated these allegations. Rather than keep sealed lip on such a sensitive issue which allegation tantamount to suspicion of partially, the INEC would have thoroughly investigated them and come out with explanations to douse the temper of aggrieved Nigerians who have not been able to collect their PVC’s (Permanent Voters Cards) obviously because theirs would have been among the lot thrown away by, well, nobody knows yet.
Silence in a matter like this would translate to both admission and culpability. Fourthly, these serious allegations of wasted PVCs portend that there will be a silent build-up of anger amongst people who have not been able to collect their PVC’s and hence prevented to cast their votes during the elections. This set of people, especially where they are most likely to be youths, will be quick foot soldiers in, God forbid, a violent revolution in Nigeria.
DURING THE ELECTIONS:
With one of the three most visible Presidential candidates in the race boasting that he has never contested and lost an election in Nigeria, there may be problems when a person other than him is declared the winner in the Presidential race after the election. Remember that this same Presidential candidate who also boasted that it is his turn to rule Nigeria is already being flown around the world with the Nigerian Air Force Presidential Jet.
In Nigeria, the incumbency factor has always been put to dubious use whereby the sitting government through those agencies overseen by it, including the security agencies, not only create the enabling environment for the candidates of the ruling political party to emerge victorious in elections, but also go the extra mile to intimidate candidates of other political parties and threaten people who may want to vote for those other candidates. The result of this is that there could be voter-apathy where the voters stay home to save their lives from the dangerous activities in the polling stations.
My advice in this regard is that the incumbent government must not underrate the latest and potent force of Nigerian youths, who though hitherto has been apolitical, now have mobilized themselves and still mobilizing themselves to meet fire for fire, thunder for thunder, in the 2023 presidential elections.
AFTER THE ELECTIONS:
The most risky part of the 2023 presidential election process to manage will be the period after the elections at the polls. This will be so if there are manipulations at the polling stations where election results are meant to be announced publicly and electronically transmitted immediately after announcement in the presence of the representatives of the political parties and the voters who have been advised by the Civil Society Organizations to stay behind till the transmission of election results to the INEC central database has been completed.
Ordinarily, this would look simple, but the creativity of Nigerian politicians and their political errand boys (thugs) to discover numerous ways of rigging elections must never be under-estimated. One, there is possibility of manipulating the electronic devices to be used during the elections through the incumbency factor. Secondly, there is also, through the same incumbency factor, the possibility of causing artificial network failures with the active co-operation and connivance of telecommunication operators in the areas suspected to be the strongholds of the opposition. This naturally will cause disenfranchisement of voters who may have wished to cast their votes for the oppositions.
To convince the other political parties that these most probable sources of rigging may not be employed during the elections, all the political parties must be allowed to bring in their own ICT engineers to assess and examine the electronic devices to be used in the polling stations, declare them fit for the exercise, and quickly deliver their electronic reports to their various campaign operations office.
This measure will allay the fears by all and sundry of the possibility of ‘doctoring’ the devices in favour of the candidate with the incumbency advantage.
Thirdly, on no account must the INEC claim that ‘Network failure’ has affected their electronic devices in the Northern and Northernmost parts of the country for which reason they will tell Nigerians that they reverted to manual accreditation, manual voting and manual election result transmission. Nigerians are eagerly waiting to challenge this claim, if INEC ever comes up with it. Let it be known that INEC has all the time now and should request for all the money it needs now from the government to make sure that it does not fall into this trap where Nigerians are already waiting to observe INEC rigging elections in the North.
(TO BE CONCLUDED)
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