Suffice me to start this piece by congratulating the president for the declaration of his victory from the Saturday poll by the INEC. To this end, Nigerians eagerly waited to hear the final whistle blown by the electoral umpire. As election results were reeled out from the polling units, wards, LGA, and different states, many commentators, analysts, political parties and their candidates, pressure groups, observers, and the international community responded diversely to the results pronouncement.
Gross electoral misconducts and absurd malpractices ranging from underage voting, massive thumb printing of ballots papers by different party agents, alteration of results sheets, influx of fake result sheets and ballot papers, vote buying, harassment of voters by political thugs and in some instances by the military and security men, abscondment by electoral officers, deliberate delays in voting and collation of results, and many more were reported.
Permit me to also mention of the outcries from different quarters that the final results announced by INEC do not rhyme with the present realities in different states. A clear indication of this was the result declared from Borno State, where the president was victorious with 836,496 votes out of the 987,290 accredited voters. The same transpired in Yobe State where the president polled 407,914 votes out of the 601,059 accredited voters. We all know how these 2 states were severely affected by the Boko Haram (BH) terrorist group, which consequently led to the abandonment of communities and towns by indigenous people.
Thousands of Nigerians from both Borno and Yobe States at different times between 2014 and now have long fled to neighboring Cameroon, Niger and Chad for succor. Another vast majority lives in IDP camps across the country. Just of late, we also read of how some towns have come under the control of BH. Worse of all is the inability of a whole sitting governor, Gov Ibrahim Gaidam of Yobe State to travel to his town for the election. This has never been heard of in Nigeria. How can a Chief Security Officer of a state be hindered from exercising his civic right to vote? His inability to vote was attributed to the BH terrorist group that was long ‘technically defeated’, ‘degraded’ and in ‘comatose’ as we were made to believe both by the present government and the military.
Some few days ago, the Borno State governor’s convoy and campaign train were attacked by the terrorist group on their way to Gamboru Ngala from Maiduguri where about a dozen of people were killed while several others were abducted. Furthermore, it beats my imagination how closed to a million voters can still be confident of their safety to defy all odds and present themselves for voting in terrorist stricken Borno State despite the early morning attacks by the BH terrorists. Relatively peaceful states like Enugu, Ogun, Kwara, and Cross River only had 452,765; 605,938; 489,482 and 461,033 accredited voters respectively. This whole episode surrounding INEC declared results per state visa-viz the realities on ground is another issue for another day.
The 2015 victory of the erstwhile opposition party, APC and Muhamadu Buhari in the presidential election heralded a new dawn in Nigeria political space with wild celebrations and jubilations across the country especially the north. The expectations of the Nigerian masses on the then new leadership were immensely high. Buhari was seen as the ‘messiah’ that Nigeria has long waited for. The vast majority of the masses and elites across the geopolitical zones, religions, tribes and other divides throw their support for his administration. This saw the unprecedented defection of highly placed political gladiators into the APC fold.
Indeed, President Buhari had all it takes to turn things around when he assumed power in 2015. The mention of his name sends unfound fear to several elites who mismanaged our commonwealth. We read of how individuals intended to go on self-exile and also how monies were voluntarily returned to the govt coffers. The praises of Buhari’s ‘doggedness’ and ‘integrity’ were sung and echoed by the commoners across Nigeria. The successful transmission of power by the then president, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and PDP with much ardor gave President Buhari a very smooth and comfortable start. There were no long legal litigations and brouhaha as it has been the case with every election since the return of democracy in 1999.
But little did we know that it’ll all end up as business as usual. From the take-off of the newly sworn-in govt on 29th May, 2015 to the election of the national assembly presiding officers, to the months of endless waiting before the appointment of ‘competent’, dedicated’ and ‘experienced’ ministers, to the 2016 budget padding brouhaha, to the Ibrahim Magu’s confirmation drama, and the internal friction within the APC fold and many other unsavory appointments and decisions taken by the govt showed nothing much would be accomplished.
The crashing of our economy, the soaring exchange rates, increase in fuel price, subsidy saga, the intensified and continuous unabated BH attacks, the adoption of the Dapchi girls and their eventual released, except the innocent Christian girl, Leah, the violent and unprecedented maiming, killings and unprovoked attacks across communities in Nigeria especially the North-Central by the Fulani herdsmen who double as the president’s kinsmen with no open rebuke and chastisement by the Commander in Chief; and the alarming rate of kidnappings across the country watered down the hopes placed on Buhari. What shall I say more? Is it the emergence of militant groups having field days in Zamfara, Kaduna, Katsina and Sokoto States, killing and adopting at will? Or their taking over of communities and setting up rulers who receive tithes (Zakat)?
What about the doubling of prices of commodities in Nigerian markets, the increased inflation rates, the unemployment, the recent declaration of Nigeria as the world’s headquarters for extreme poverty by the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organization in USA, the increased cost of living with lowered standard of living, and the failure of the govt to provide basic amenities which further turn off the masses.
Should I also talk about inter organizations clashes and unnecessary litigations? The incoherence and open in-fights of Buhari’s cabinet men and other party men, the Abdulrasheed Maina’s saga, the NHIS brouhaha, the minimum wage ‘delay’, the lingering industrial actions by different unions and many more bedeviled the present administration.
Although the present govt always reel out ‘unfound achievements’ on the media, the majority of such do not translate into the betterment of the life of the common man in any way. One of such is the school feeding program, that even govt officials will dare not take their children to such schools, talk more of been fed with such ‘junks’. We were also told by the information minister of how the govt spends 3.5 million Naira to ‘feed’ Ibrahim el-Zakzaki alone monthly. Similarly, Abdurrahman Dambazau, the minister of interior revealed how the govt spends 14,000 Naira to feed each prisoner daily.
Also, the sudden onset of the TraderMoni scheme prior to the elections, which was greeted in some quarters as a highly schemed vote buying strategy, or the N-Power program that the participants are yet to be adopted into the civil service and their future vague. We also read of the endemic corruption accusations and counter-accusations going on in govt institutions. Truly, most Nigerians believed that this government is the most divisive and sectional ever, giving the nature of its appointments and ‘projects’.
Now that President Muhamadu Buhari has been given another 4 years, what more should we expect? With the wild unpleasant reactions across the country that greeted the results declaration, I can envisage a long legal battle. Of a truth, no govt had so many litigations like the present. Will the fences the bind us together as a nation finally get loose?
How do we go on with these 4 years ahead? How can our education, health, economy, security and other basic needs of Nigerians be met these 4 years? How can the govt ensure even distribution of our commonwealth? How can poverty be dealt with? How can Nigeria be united and be a force to be reckoned with in Africa and the world?
Let me end this piece with a message of hope. The scripture says “A living dog is better than a dead lion”. So long as we are united as a nation, there is still hope for us. Having the Nigeria of our dream is still POSSIBLE. For help comes not from kings but the LORD. Let’s rise and trust God for a better Nigeria.
*** Reuben Rine wrote from firstname.lastname@example.org