Archive for February, 2015

By Mobolaji E. Aluko, PhD

PROLOGUE

Two weeks after the announcement of a six-week postponement of General Elections, and a week after the first of two days originally fixed for them, Nigerians are relieved that no violence has occurred. This cannot be unconnected with the fact that the nineteen hours and two sessions of discussions leading to the final announcement by INEC’s Chairman Prof. Attahiru Jega were played out in the semi-open. The two reasons for the postponement – security concerns in the North-East region claimed by military authorities to be sufficiently distracting to security elsewhere in the country as well as suspected un-readiness of INEC’s logistics – were also not incredible. However, many incredulous Nigerians have expressed a concern that the postponement was an undue interference by the Military to enable the ruling party to fine-tune its winning (or waning) strategies, and have also expressed the fear that it was really the first of many postponements a la Gbagbo. On the other hand, if properly harnessed, the Opposition party has six more weeks to maintain and even increase its “mo”mentum that it was allegedly taking into February 14.

In this essay, however, we eschew all skepticism and cynicism, and discuss five outstanding issues.
1. (1) Will Security Concerns Be Fully Addressed in Six Weeks?
2. (2) Will INEC Finally and Really Be Ready Internally?
3. (3) Will the Elections Actually Hold?
4. (4) Will the Elections be Free, Fair and Credible?
5. (5) Who Will Win the Presidential Elections?
Please come with us.

SECURITY CONCERNS

INEC is the only body constitutionally charged to organize the elections, but not to provide security. Security against internal subversion should be provided by the Police, and from external aggression by the Military. That Constitution provides that the ONLY basis for the postponement of an election in part or all of the country – which presumes that the election date has already been FIXED – is for extreme security reasons, namely a state of war, which it is in in some parts of the North-East of Nigeria.

As far as elections are concerned today, Nigeria is comprised of one country, thirty-six states plus the FCT, six geo-political zones, 774 local government, 8814 wards and 120,000 polling units – and 68.8 million registered voters out of 140,431,790 population (2006 census), or 170 million people (2015 estimate) living in hundreds of thousands of cities, towns, villages and hamlets. Now, the troubled North-East geopolitical zone of Nigeria comprising the six states of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe features 112 local governments (14.5% of country total). 1210 wards (13.7%) and 16,455 polling units (13.7%) with 9,107,861 registered voters (13.2%) and a 2006 Census population of 18,984,299 (13.5%). Only 14 local governments (i.e. 12.5% of the total) are affected in this 13.7%-average region – meaning that less than 2% of the entire country is affected.

Consequently, concerns in this geopolitical region should not have been used whatsoever to hold up the rest of the country’s election, except in fact it was merely as cover for some other reasons. Knowing the set dates of February 14 and 28 a year ahead of time, there is nothing that the Military could not have done six weeks prior to those dates that can now be done six weeks to the new dates of March 28 and April 11. Consequently, one is truly convinced that the Military sacrificed its pride to “bail” INEC out, despite INEC’s insistence to the contrary. In any case, a non-state-actors’ insurgency that has not been adequately addressed since 2009 cannot be addressed fully in six weeks – unless of course one of the many Shekaus is really captured dead or alive for the fifth time during that period.

In concluding this section, I urge that in the future, where serious security concerns exist, the particular elections (eg presidential/national assembly elections) should be held ONE or TWO WEEKs before the main one so that security forces can be specially CONCENTRATED in the affected areas to ensure smooth elections.

INEC UN-READINESS

In shepherding these particular elections in Nigeria, INEC’s roles are many – rather too many:
(1) Register new parties and revalidate old ones
(2) Monitor political party finances and campaign ethics
(3) Register and approve candidates of various parties for different positions
(4) Organize voter registration by accepting the registration requests of potential voters
(5) Print and Issue voters cards to registered voters
(6) Designate polling units and assign registered voters to them
(7) Organize the printing and distribution of ballot papers to various polling units
(8) Hire and train both permanent and ad-hoc staff for all the polling units
(9) Outline and Organize the voting, counting, collation and announcement of results
INEC’s readiness should therefore be judged on all of these factors, and not just on #4 – #9, which is of primary concern to us here.

Parenthetically, in the future, INEC should be relieved of Items #1, #2 and #5 – party membership and finance monitoring should be left to one or two other bodies entirely. Furthermore ANY government-issued identification card (with photo ID and biometric data) should be acceptable for verification at the point of voting, PROVIDED the potential voter has already registered. Thus, there should be no voters’ card separate from a driver’s license, or travel passport, or other acceptable and necessarily biometric National Identity Card – including the voters cards issued for these 2015 elections.

The question remains: was INEC ready for February 14 and 28? The fairer question is: was INEC sufficiently ready?

The March 28 presidential elections will be Nigeria’s eighth since Independence (see Table 1 below for election information, and Table 2 for related census and population figures), and fourth (1983 under Shagari, 2003 and 2007 under Obasanjo and 2011 under Jonathan) to be organized by civilians, with two others (in Obasanjo’s 1979 and Abdusalami’s 1999) under military rule being successful transfers of power to civilians, while one – on June 12, 1993 – was an aborted one under IBB’s military rule. After sixteen years of continuous civilian government since 1999, I NEC as an institution should be expected to demonstrate greater efficiency in its operations. One can therefore be forgiven for expressing serious disappointment in its two recent postponements – first in 2011 and now in 2015. In addition to that, its Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) exercise – in order to capture those citizens since 2007/2011 who had not registered, both old and newly-born – was anything but continuous, being narrowly confined to certain weeks.

In all elections prior to 2007, voters cards were not issued, so the number of registered voters was taken primarily as the maximum number of voters to be expected on Election Day: names on the Register were merely checked against those who presented themselves to vote. In 2015, two additional but welcome “complications” feature over mere registration prior to 2007:
(i) Issuance of a Temporary Voters Card (these were used in 2007 and 2011)
(ii) Replacement of the TVC with an RFID-compatible Permanent Voters Card (PVC) with biometric information that are readable by a Voters Card Reader (VCR)
Thus, in 2015, even if you register but don’t have a TVC (either through apathy, loss, theft or some discovered fraudulence, or INEC inefficiency), then you cannot obtain a PVC. More importantly, if you don’t have your PVC with you on Election Day, INEC is insisting that you won’t vote.

It is this TVC-PVC-VCR combination that has led to INEC’s seeming “un-readiness” in its bid to greatly increase the anti-rigging credibility of these elections over the earlier ones. Fortunately, the national PVC collection rate is now inching towards 80% from its pre-February 14 value of 65.6% (see Table 3), but with still politically unacceptable state-wise variations (eg Ogun State 40.86% compared with Nassarawa State of 96.29%).

But was INEC sufficiently ready for February 14? In the aspect of voter card collections, I believe so: if all the 45 million voters (out of the 68.8 million registered) that had collected their PVCs went out to vote, then according to Tables 1 and 3 below, that would have represented the highest voter turnout in numbers ever recorded in Nigeria, and the second highest in terms of percentage turn-out. If the turnout was based on 45 million (rather than 68.8 million), then a post-1999 percentage average turnout of 58% would yield 26 million voters – which is higher than any of the pre-1999 elections that yielded three presidencies.

Where INEC would have struggled greatly was in configuring card readers and the training of staff to handle electoral matters, activities that it was getting ready to concentrate all its resources upon during the last week before February 14. With the postponement, one would never now know what February 14 would have brought, but mercifully, more time means more PVCs and card readers available, and more staff training available, all leading hopefully to a more perfect set of elections.

WILL THE ELECTIONS HOLD – OR WILL THE POSTPONED ELECTIONS BE RE-POSTPONED?

Since 1999, May 29 has been the handover date of new governments, first from General Abdusalami Abubakar in 1999 to Obasanjo, then Obasanjo to himself and to Yar’Adua in 2003 and 2007 respectively, and while acting as President after Yar’Adua’s death in 2009, Goodluck Jonathan to himself in 2011, who may yet hand over to himself again in 2015, or else to General Muhammadu Buhari (Retired).

If indeed May 29 is “sacrosanct”, as all law-abiding persons of goodwill including President Jonathan seem to aver over and over again, then April 11 and 25 are the last two Saturdays that INEC can schedule the two sets of elections without disobeying the at-most-120-days-at-least-30-days-before-handover INEC law. Consequently the new dates March 28 and April 5 are themselves now near-sacrosant, as they cannot be re-postponed by more than two weeks – to April 11 and April 25, which are then super-sacrosanct. This is because the Holy Week of Christendom ends on Easter Friday April 3/ Easter Sunday April 5, ruling out Saturday April 4 as an Election Day.

This last date of April 4 presents another problem: in the event that there is a run-off in the Presidential election of March 28, electoral law requires that it be held a week afterwards – which is April 4. In order not to offend Christian sensibilities, it is then very likely that the run-off will be “postponed” by two weeks to April 18 – a week after the Gubernatorial/State Assembly elections – or even till the last possible Saturday – April 25.

To strain nerves, former President Obasanjo has been pre-emptively “seeing” the Gbagbo postponement style in all these machinations, and was sufficiently alarmed to quit the PDP and tear up his party card. INEC’s Jega has not helped matters by claiming recently that he is not in a position to guarantee the sacrosanct nature of May 29, and that we should all ask the security personnel about that.
Nigerians should refuse these omens, and say “Enough already….We Must Vote in March”!

WILL THE ELECTIONS BE FREE, FAIR AND CREDIBLE?

Just as nations go to war to win, candidates go to elections to win. Winning freely and fairly is invariably preferred, because it invariably imbues credibility and legitimacy to the results. However politicians invariably hope that even if they win un-freely and un-fairly, perchance credibility can still be conferred, and legitimacy obtained maybe even forcibly.

In the Nigerian context, the existence of a free, fair and credible election is an amalgam of incumbent government commitment to it and INEC’s true “independence” from that government. Without those two ingredients, such an election will not happen, as the incumbent government, wishing to win by all means necessary, can require the security agencies to take sides, intimidating the opposition as well as INEC officials.

This interference happened “successfully” in Ekiti State’s gubernatorial elections on June 21, 2014, which was a dress rehearsal for the “un-successful” outcome in Osun State of August 2014. This disgraceful Ekiti-gate saga, revealed by a now-absconded Sergeant Sagir [see http://www.nigerianmuse.com/20150213194020zg/sections/general-articles/star-revelation-how-ekiti-was-won-and-lost-on-june-21-2014/ STAR REVELATION: How Ekiti Was Won and Lost on June 21, 2014] is exactly how not to inject the security forces into elections in Nigeria. For the sake of national stability in the country, this must be avoided in the upcoming elections. The intimidating presence of particularly the Military should be confined to Sambisa Forest and environs, where from all indications Boko Haram is currently being dealt severe military blows. More seriously, I would suggest no more than two armed soldiers (if any) stationed some respectable distance from each polling unit, and three un-armed police and civil-defence personnel stationed within the vicinity. With 120,000 PUs, there should be still be enough soldiers to combat Boko Haram in the North-East, and enough policemen elsewhere ensuring the civic peace.

Another aspect of not ensuring free and fair election is the allowance of illegal voters on Election Day, as well as the “inclusion” of illegal ballot papers (either pre-thumb-printed and/or photo-chromically alterable) – again as suspected on June 21 in Ekiti State “routing” of the incumbent governor Fayemi. INEC’s plan to use both the Permanent Voters Card (PVC, authenticated with RFID technology), with voter verified by a biometric (thumb-print) Voters Card Reader (VCR) within the context of a Modified Open-Closed Ballot System (MOBS) will significantly enhance the freenees, fairness and hence credibility of the elections. Attempts by various interested to get INEC to dump the exclusive use of PVCs (and to permit TVCs) as well as eliminate the use of VCRs entirely must be stoutly resisted.

I had elsewhere (in the essay “Now that Jega has Asked for More Time..”) proposed the permission of the use of TVCs (together with VCRs) in rare cases. However I have since learnt from reliable sources that this would lead to chaos at the polling units because there are indeed many people with TVCs who LEGITIMATELY do not – and cannot – have PVCs:
(1) Those who illegally or, in their enthusiasm to be registered by all means necessary, registered twice or more times, and were purged during the AFIS duplicate registration exercise. There are as many as four million of these individuals.
(2) Those who, having been once finger-printed for the PVC, had problems with that exercise, but never returned to correct those problems either because of lack of that information or apathy. The number of such people is unknown – and unknowable.
Consequently, so as not to complicate matters, I am now convinced that ONLY those with PVCs should be allowed to vote.

Going forward, however, INEC has been building greater confidence of the electorate in its operations by significantly improving its PVC distribution logistics, publicly demonstrating the un-impeachable efficacy of the VCRs, as well at outlining credible alternatives in accrediting voters in the event of the inevitable and episodic technology failure. INEC must make much wider use of its phone numbers 0817-164-6879 (send text: “State, Last Name 5-digit VIN”, without quotes) and SMS shortcode 20120 (send text: “INEC, State, Last Name, 5-digit VIN”, without quotes) either to confirm whether one has his or her PVC ready (in the event that it is only a TVC at hand) or a reminder of where to vote (if one already has a PVC). In addition, clearer instructions about where to collect a PVC must be decided once and for all. Those sites should be as close as possible to where the voter originally registered.

On the other hand, civil society too – from educational institutions to mosques and churches, etc. – must play its part in getting the word out to its patrons that they must go out and collect their PVCs.

PREDICTING THE WINNER OF THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS

If the result of the elections were to be based on the sum total of the sizes of the crowds in the various campaign rallies held by the presidential candidates, or on the beauty of the “costumes” worn at each stop, particularly by the women, or on the show of vitriol hurled in print and on the campaign trail, who do you think would win?

Your guess is as good as mine.

But one person – the “Attack Lion of Aso Rock” Dr Doyin Okupe – and one online polling organization seem to know and/or are willing to share their informed guesses.

I am taking Okupe’s predictions seriously because he may be (in)advertently revealing the electoral calculations of the fortunes of his administration. In further analysis Okupe’s extensive state-by-state analysis (see Table 4 below) – he gives no basis, maybe just hunches – it turns out that it reveals that:
(1) GEJ will beat GMB by 25.4 million votes to 19.4 million votes – 56.7% to 43.3%, with a 6 million vote difference, down from 10.3 million difference of 2011.
(2) GEJ will win in the SW, SE, SS. NC and FCT, while GMB will win in the NE and NW.
(3) In the SW, GEJ will win 58.5% to 41.5%, clinching wins in five of the six states, but losing Osun State.
(4) In the SE, GEJ will 77.7% to 22.3%, clinching all five states.
(5) In the SS, GEJ will 74.5% to 25.5%, clinching all six states.
(6) In the NC, GEJ will win 55.8% to 44.2%, clinching three states (Benue, Kogi and Plateau), losing Niger, and a dead heat in Kwara and Nassarawa
(7) In the FCT, GEJ will win by 70% to 30%.
(8) In the NW, GEJ will lose by 42.5% to 57.5%, winning only in Jigawa, and losing in four states (Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Zamfara), and having a deadheat in two others (Kaduna and Zamfara) all the other five states except for
On the other hand, an online survey by Malcolm Fabiyi and Otunuga using a Survey Monkey platform has it differently. With a predicted voter turnout of 58.1% (average of the voter turnout percentages obtained in the last 4 elections held in the 4th republic – 53.7% in 2011, 57.5% in 2007, 69.1% in 2003 and 52.3% in 1999), they have Buhari winning in four geopolitical zones and Jonathan in only two (See Figure 1).

Finally, if the presidential elections had held on February 15, I would have made available a Friday essay on February 13, outlining my own prediction, with my take-off point being the 2011 elections. As it is, with the postponement, I am also postponing my prediction by six weeks.

EPILOGUE

The contest between PDP and APC, and in particular between GEJ and GMB, promises to be the most keen in recent Nigeria election history. The passion with which both parties have gone at each other, and the advertorial demonization of candidates, have not always been exemplary. One trusts however that passions will cool after free, fair and credible elections that I am now fully convinced will hold on March 28 and April 11 – or else such passions might heat up inexhorably.

We shall see.

Bolaji Aluko
alukome@gmail.com

By Prince Charles Dickson

Too many have had to suffer at the hands of a political economic elite whose only fight is for them by them, with them and them… And with a bureaucracy so bloated and confused, the powerful always win…but…–Onyedikachi Ndidi

In a recent conversation with a friend of mine on the Nigerian state, he reminded of the Marxist theorem that says, “When a society is on the verge of collapse, the ruling class is thrown into confusion.”

Nigeria’s current picture and identity is that replete with a confused, factionalized and extremely corrupt elites with a limited sense of nation. As Ihonvbere puts it, “These elites lacking strong and viable base in production, have for long used the state as its primary instrument of primitive accumulation.” In the end, the state has been mangled and rendered impotent in the quest for nationhood, growth and development, much less democracy.

The genesis and development of the Nigerian elite is as interesting as the generic rooting of the Nigerian state. The new Nigerian elite, which took over power from the departing colonial authorities, also took over from them the development ethos of the colonial administrations.

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This could be stated as the self-interested exploitation of the people and the country. This self-serving ethos, which had been the foundation, was what the colonial state had engrained in the mentality of the emerging Nigerian elite. The devastating effect of this formed the basis of development orientation in the postcolonial Nigerian state.

While one can argue rightly so too, that though the elite is meant to play a central role in promoting and designing democracy, as it is quite impossible to prosecute any democratic project in any society without the input of the elite, the Nigerian elite has sadly continued to impede and frustrate the democratization trend.

They see democracy or governance more as a means to an end, and in Achebe’s words, have a tendency to ‘pious material wooliness and self-centered pedestrianism’. Consequently, the group remains just like its colonial progenitor an instrument of exploitation and suppression of the popular classes and a tool for primitive accumulation and class consolidation for the hegemonic groups.

In other words, the few who control the system have access to all imaginable perks while the many who are excluded are victims of all forms of abuse. Perhaps, it is for this reason, the struggle to attain and retain power has become a veritable war fought without restraint and with total disregard for the ethos and conventions of democracy

Giving birth to an unprecedented level of corruption and misgovernance irrespective of the party or group.

In twenty-first century Nigeria, elite corruption is demonstrated in various dimensions, namely, presidentialism, clientelism and rent seeking.

Now, let us look at presidentialism, it implies the systematic concentration of political power in the hands of one individual who more often resists delegating all but the most trivial decision-making tasks.

This concept is likened to patrimonialism or personalized rule, where an individual rules by dint of personal prestige and power. It can emerge from either the army or a dominant political party, whichever way; the point is that power is consolidated by asserting total personal control over formal political structures thereby making ways for corruption (Bratton and Van de Walle, 1997).

For example in Obasanjo’s government, President Olusegun Obasanjo was the minister of petroleum, a portfolio he never wanted any other individual to handle.

He was minister of petroleum for seven years and four months yet he did not build even one refinery. So it is foolhardy for any sane person to be moved by his exhibitionism of card tearing.

In Nigeria, primitive accumulation comes in form of theft, looting, graft, expropriation, money laundering, enslavement and internal colonization. In this sense, even governments are not eager to probe the sources of personal wealth.

What is more? The prevailing trend among the Nigerian elite is how to enrich oneself in order to remain relevant in the polity and how that is done is nobody’s business. To this class of individuals, ‘the end justifies the means’, and not ‘the means to justify the end’.

Little wonder, the cases of Boko Haram being viewed as a political tool, coupled with ritual killings, political assassination, human trafficking and hostage taking. To this end, the average Nigerian simply sees the elite as an opportunist, a ‘timocrat’, and a ‘plutocrat’ who first and foremost is in office for his own end and probably those of his immediate constituency.

For the purposes of further analysis, the term ‘timocrat’ is derived from ‘timocracy’, which is a form of government that represents degeneration, the love of honor. As Stumpf and Fieser (2003) contends, “In so far as ambitious members of the ruling class love their own honor more than the common good, the spirited part of their soul has usurped the role of reason. It is a short step from love of honor to the desire for wealth, which means allowing the appetites to rule.

On the other hand, the concept ‘plutocrat’ is derived from ‘’plutocracy’, which is a form of government where power resides in the hands of people whose main concern is wealth.

What is serious about plutocracy is that, it breaks the unity of the state into two contending classes: The rich and the poor. Plutocrats are consumers of good things and seekers of constant pleasure, and when they have used up their money, they become dangerous because they want more of what they have become accustomed to.

This then is my admonition, and the analysis of all the big-sounding words I have narrated above—If indeed elections do hold, if APC wins, PDP would not concede, if PDP wins, APC would revolt—anyone that wins would spell class violence.

Scenario one has already been predicted, ask Jonathan to leave the office, and off course no show for Buhari, which brings in an Ijoba fi di ha to rejig things.

Scenerio two, whether any of them wins, and it stays so, with a little season of violence, it will simply be an Ijoba fi di ha because either parties will see a re-congregating of elites, and so therefore very little governance will take place—But an uprising of good people “may” follow—and can any of the Ijoba fi di ha berth a new beginning for Nigeria—Only time would tell.

By Prince Charles Dickson

A fly, a harlot, a beggar, a rat, and gusty wind; the village-boss and the tax collector–these seven are all annoying to others–Indian proverb

To the proverb above I add, the Nigerian politician and leader, that makes it eight, add the Nigerian as a person and that makes it nine. The reason I have separated both is, very many a times you wonder if the politician in Nigerian or if the Nigerian is actually a citizen…

So on the 14th of February I sat in front of the Television, it was not just Valentine, but equally my marriage anniversary, and ordinarily would have been on the field covering the electoral process, but Nigeria’s elite, politicians and self serving individuals conspired for both good and not so good reasons to push the elections further down the next month.

Who is responsible for Boko Haram?

Who is responsible for Boko Haram?

So I decided to watch soccer, football as we call it in these parts, scanned channels and no match of interest till I stumbled on cricket; it was a match in the ongoing Cricket World Cup.

You need to appreciate that fact I even knew that there was a Cricket World cup ongoing. So what really is cricket, and how does it concern Nigeria, or Nigerians at that?

Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of 11 players each on a field at the centre of which is a rectangular 22-yard long pitch. Each team takes its turn to bat, attempting to score runs, while the other team fields. Each turn is known as an innings.

The bowler delivers the ball to the batsman who attempts to hit the ball with his bat away from the fielders so he can run to the other end of the pitch and score a run. Each batsman continues batting until he is out. The batting team continues batting until ten batsmen are out, or a specified number of overs of six balls have been bowled, at which point the teams switch roles and the fielding team comes in to bat.

In professional cricket the length of a game ranges from 20 overs per side to Test cricket played over five days.

You get to hear things like wicket, batsman, and innings…

95% of Nigerians know nothing about cricket, and that ironically includes myself—So what was I watching it for, to kill boredom, to learn, to get amused, by all that running, hitting, fez caps they wore.

Then, Okey my car body mechanic came to drop the car after a minor body work…after inspecting the car and paying him, I asked him to give my regards to his family, his response was “Oga dem still dey village, my mother say make I leave after we go Christmas, till after election…”

And yes Okey left his family in the east, for some it is not their families but they inclusive have temporarily relocated.

My family friend, his name is Brazil. (Got the name for his footballing prowess) but his our mechanic—at the office the other day he quipped, “Many of us would vote Buhari because it is the safest and closest for we Yorubas to get the presidency.”

Short of saying, “There is an unspoken believe that the General would soon die…”

Never in our recent past have we got to this stage of hate—While some blame Jonathan and politicians, need I say that the current hate on display has always been there waiting for an opportunity such as this.

The headlines are not as scary as the words that come out off the politicians–Pastors, Imams are being bribed and counter bribed.

In homes, there are sharp divides along the two Presidential candidates and it is sad that none of both men in practical terms have a grasp. It is so much of shadow boxing that reality.

And depending on whose report you are reading, the depth is so pedestrian and my nation has become a laughing stock–The President says he invited the United States, and the United States says, “We received no such invite to fight Boko Haram”

The All Progressive Congress APC, at its current pace, except for a few has made every crook on the street a “progressive”, sure that even Idi Amin would find home with them.

Conspiracy theories are being flown by no other than persons like Obasanjo, who is either endorsing and re-endorsing, that is when he is not alleging a coup or a Gbagbo like disgrace for Jonathan.

The theorists are on the over-drive, I heard that Ambode of Lagos is not totally sound, and he comes out to say “ I am of sound mind and body”, and Jonathan then tells us he is not aware that there was going to be a postponement, but gets briefed by his security chiefs every two hours, like a newspaper reports that Buhari’s madam gave drugs worth scores of millions, when indeed it was a few millions.

Meanwhile the commoners are running to the village to vote and escape the impending violence in some areas, and the Politicians have booked their one-way ticket to safety.

PVC cards are now bought at costs higher than the dollar, and we say this would in theory a difficult election to rig, even in theory you don’t cheat in cricket but in practice, loads can happen, even with the umpire watching

So, back to my cricket match, I did not know who was losing, why they were loosing, what they were doing wrong, I just wanted to enjoy the match.

My call to my fellow country men and women remains that we need to define what are our problems, and find solutions to them, if not, for now, we are only drawing a map with sand on the concrete fall, a little wind and its all gone. We are playing a cricket match that we know little of its end result.

May 29th will come and come, what becomes of Nigeria—Only time would tell

By Prince Charles Dickson

“A common experience, resulting in a common confusion…The election has been postponed and it’s no April fool”—Ndidi Onyedikachi

A. has to transact important business with B. in H. He goes to H. for a preliminary interview, accomplishes the journey there in ten minutes, and the journey back in the same time, and on returning boasts to his family of his expedition. Next day he goes again to H., this time to settle his business finally. As that by all appearances will require several hours, A. leaves very early in the morning. But although all the surrounding circumstances, at least in A.’s estimation, are exactly the same as the day before, this time it takes him ten hours to reach H. When he arrives there quite exhausted in the evening he is informed that B., annoyed at his absence, had left half an hour before to go to A.’s village, and that they must have passed each other on the road. A. is advised to wait. But in his anxiety about his business he sets off at once and hurries home.

This time he covers the distance, without paying any particular attention to the fact, practically in an instant. At home he learns that B. had arrived quite early, immediately after A.’s departure, indeed that he had met A. on the threshold and reminded him of his business; but A. had replied that he had no time to spare, he must go at once.

In spite of this incomprehensible behavior of A., however, B. had stayed on to wait for A.’s return. It is true, he had asked several times whether A. was not back yet, but he was still sitting up in A.’s room. Overjoyed at the opportunity of seeing B. at once and explaining everything to him, A. rushes upstairs. He is almost at the top, when he stumbles, twists a sinew, and almost fainting with the pain, incapable even of uttering a cry, only able to moan faintly in the darkness, he hears B.–impossible to tell whether at a great distance or quite near him–stamping down the stairs in a violent rage and vanishing for good.

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Finally the elections have been shifted–A. says that “Jega’s body language shows a man under pressure, he wants to do the right thing, but the powers that be won’t let him. B. then asks.”what is the right thing?”

A. reveals that though Permanent Voters Card have not all been released or collected, a section of the country feels short changed. B. feels that Jega should resign, either for being disappointment and for failing Nigerians or to save his name before he is finally messed up.

A. then wonders but how come we would deal with a security problem that has lasted for more than five years in six weeks. B. believes that the service chiefs that gave the advice to Jega and others should resign. However A. thinks that all these is the handiwork of government. Is it really government or that INEC, the electoral management body is not ready–okay put this way, they are prepared but not ready.

B. wonders why the he opposition as usually by nomenclature has to oppose everything as long as it comes from the governing party. Well A. just sees all the drama as inevitable in the Nigerian polity–whether they postpone it till March 28th 2030, elections will hold.

It will hold, but it is not our problem, our problems A. tells B. is mistrust, ethno-religious jingoism and parapoism, favoritism and nepotism. B. adds a skewed federal system, quota, federal character and all such coined phrases that make for a Nigerian state that can do without its best.

I started my admonition with “A Common Confusion” (“Eine alltägliche Verwirrung”) a short story by Franz Kafka. It was published posthumously in Beim Bau der Chinesischen Mauer (Berlin, 1931). The first English translation by Willa and Edwin Muir was published by Martin Secker in London in 1933. It appeared in The Great Wall of China. Stories and Reflections (New York: Schocken Books, 1946).

The story details transactions between A and B. A meets B at H and comes home pleased with the events. Following this, he meets B again but only after a delay to the very same H he arrived at successfully previously. B is not there. To add insult to injury, A learns B had arrived early waiting for him. Thankfully he has an opportunity to explain to B what happened, but in his haste he trips and falls. He hears B above him stomping down the stairs enraged.

Clearly, the story has parallels with the dynamics of the officials within The Castle (novel). Like many of Kafka’s characters the good intentions, hard work, and diligence are futile efforts in an indifferent world. Kafka begins the story by stating the events are a “common experience” suggesting the story is an example of a universal rule.

The story reminds me of today’s Nigeria—Elections are wars, very little has changed and may change—From those blaming Jonathan for their impotency and those that believe that Buhari would make them sterile.

Our historical trajectory of electoral process in the post-colonial Nigerian is characterized by violence. In fact, recent manifestations of electoral violence, most importantly since the birth of the Fourth Republic in 1999 have assumed an unprecedented magnitude and changing form, resulting in instability in democratic consolidation as well as the loss and displacement of many innocent lives.

It is not about Jega, Jonathan or Buhari—sadly we are here again sniffing violence because we closely associated with the neo-patrimonial character of the Nigerian state, the nature and kind of party politics being played, the weak institutionalization of democratic architectures and inefficient electoral management body among others. The same factors that led to the fall or collapse of the First and Second Republics.

So, if we don not change and soon too, postponing elections are one thing, but the survival of democracy in the Fourth Republic will be hinged on adherence to the ideals and principles of electoral process as practiced in ideal democratic societies or else—Only time will tell.

2015: Memo to Nigerians

Posted: February 5, 2015 in Uncategorized

By Danlami Alhaji Wushishi

`We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools` Martin Luther King Jr

Nigeria is on the march again, in search of a new president whose tenure begins on 29th day of May, 2015. Already, about 14 presidential candidates have emerged including a woman. But the tough contest will be between General Muhammadu Buhari and Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan of APC and PDP respectively. In fact, they are recognized as the gladiators, this might not be unconnected to the fact that despite our multi-party system arrangement, the duo of Jonathan and Buhari in 2015 contest is the much talked about within and outside the nation.

We have less than a month to the polls, Nigerians are looking forward to Feb. 14, the International community now place close watch on turn of events in the country with largest population in Africa. Even our statesmen, Elites, traditional rulers, academics have expressed great concern on the outcome of 2015, in view of our experience after the 1993 Abiola/Tofa contest and 2011 Buhari/Jonathan contest. The US secretary of state just paid an official visit to Nigeria, all geared toward a smooth transition.

Not loosing hope on Nigeria

Not loosing hope on Nigeria

Dear Nigerians, the 2015 election is generating lots of tension attributable to the change in mentality of a typical Nigeria that “ours” must win coupled with threats and counter threats from the two divide. The escalating spate of insurgency is another issue of great concern, at the moment thousands of Nigerians are settled in IDP camps in North East Nigeria whether they would be allowed to exercise their franchise is another big question. Though, INEC has given us its words that they will vote.

It is important that all Nigerians irrespective of our religious belief, tribal inclination, party affiliation and economic interest to place the corporate existence of Nigeria topmost in our words and conducts. Though, the office of the National Security adviser oganised a one day workshop on the need for violence free election, and the subsequent signing of “Abuja Accord” by all presidential candidates on behalf of their parties. There is need to create a meeting point between our words and conduct. Least it turn out to be “do as I say but not as I do”. It`s amazing that despite the pact, some aides to the contestants are still caught in the web of fomenting troubles through the social media or newspaper advertorial. Similarly, some provocative statements have been made at various campaign rallies; this is tantamount to breach of the peace accord that was beamed Live to Nigerians.

In fact, we have no other country than Nigeria, and I don’t believe that the amalgamation of Nigeria was a mistake as proclaimed by some people. God knows why He brought us together, we must appreciate that fact, and any attempt to challenge this union the resultant consequence will be unnecessary crises. So, the more we see ourselves as one, the better for us as the largest democracy in Africa.

Politics in Nigeria has taken an ugly direction in the recent times; a lot of energy is been wasted in condemning a candidate based on his religious belief or tribal/regional background. As Nigerians, we should desist from such politics. We should look at the pedigree of each candidate, what are his antecedents, can he deliver? This politics of ‘our son must win’ is affecting our effort towards industrialization. Our contemporaries are moving forward in boosting their economy. Despite being OPEC member, we suffer amidst plenty.

A group of Nigerians now use social media to insult and threaten those opposed to their views with all sort of negative possibilities like cessation. The uses of facebook and twitter have become a platform where the images of our leaders are being castigated. The social media ought to serve as virtual world where we share ideas, understand our differences and take concrete path towards moving Nigeria forward.

In the last couple of weeks, we are all living witnesses to the rising spate of defections from PDP to APC and vice versa. While all these are part of Democratic practices, hence freedom of association is guaranteed by the constitution. Nigerians must look at the antecedents of defectors; they will go ba

Danlami Alhaji Wushishi can be reached on danwushishi@yahoo.com

By Prince Charles Dickson

When the shadow of a tree is bent, you don’t aim to straighten the shadow, you go for the tree and the leave the shadow…

The much talked about February is upon us, finally we are simply counting down the days, to what may well be the most talked about Valentine for a nation with no love lost amongst her citizens…

One cannot but wonder what the electoral umpire INEC and its leadership had up their sleeves when they picked the date…

However in the run-up, the danger signs have all popped up, from pre-election violence, name-calling, hate-speech and all the gimmicks. One would agree with me that this is one election that has come with intense hate, coming ironically in the month of love…and it would go ahead to shape not just the nation but also her people.

And so far, there are many questions largely unanswered, simply put do Nigerians love themselves, or rather afraid of themselves, or maybe it is a case of mutual suspicion, whichever, it looks increasingly clear that there is fear.

So, beyond all the rented crowds attending the broom and umbrella rallies, what kind of Nigeria would be left after the elections, a process that has been dominated by “if you win, Nigeria will break”, “if I win, I will stop my oil”, “we must win because it is our turn”, and many such rhetoric.

Very quickly, this week, I will tell us this fable about the mother snake and her children.

A mother snake woke her children up in the wee hours of the night and asked that all of them get ready because they have to relocate to somewhere that night before dawn and her children became so afraid and concerned.

When she asked them what they were afraid of, in unison they told their mother that they were afraid of the dark. When their mother asked why they should be afraid of darkness?

Again, in unison they answered that they were morbidly afraid because of things that bite in the dark. Their mother assertively admonished them by reminding them that they are the things every other living creature fears that bites both in the dark and in the broad-day light.

Nigerians again are afraid, the politicians have done very little to cage their supporters, it has been so bad that the sitting president has been stoned on the campaign trail, and whoever planned it, is as insignificant as the kind of hate such actions are bound to breed.

While the Presidential candidates round up, I dare say in these lines that our problem is not Jonathan, and Buhari is neither the solution. Our problem is beyond the elections…We are afraid and with this election again opening the obvious that we need to talk about who we are.

The truth is that whoever wins the election of February 14th needs to discuss Nigeria, because the campaign away from the issues has again exposed the cracks.

Years ago, my now late friend and brother Dr. Valentine Ojo of Tall Timbers, MD in the USA, narrated the story of Nigeria thus…

“I only wish people would get away from this sentimental obsession of believing that those who call for an OPEN DISCUSSION on Nigeria are necessarily calling for Nigeria to break up, or that there is something sacrosanct about Nigeria, and that Nigeria can never DISINTEGRATE into 1000 pieces if care is not taken!

It was MAN that put Nigeria together. It is MAN that is holding Nigeria together as of today. It is MAN that is doing all the things that are threatening to break up Nigeria today. And it is MAN who can sit down to discuss and see if we can work out ways to fix all that is wrong with Nigeria!

If my marriage is threatening to break up, and I refuse to sit down with my wife, and if need be, with family and friends, marriage counselors or pastors and priests, then I cannot be serious about wanting my marriage to work, and not break up! There is nothing called a marriage made in heaven! It is you who can make your marriage a ‘HEAVEN or a HELL’!

It is the same with nations: Nigerians are the ones who can make Nigeria a HEAVEN or a HELL for us, if we are only willing to sit down and TALK HONESTLY about what is ailing Nigeria, each group from his or her own perspective, and then see how we can arrive at WORKABLE COMPROMISES!

No one and no group can ever get 100% of what they want from any living arrangement, no matter how perfect!

Living together in a house, in a family or in a nation is always about being ready and willing to make COMPROMISES!

Nigeria with all the campaigns has exposed that our case is like the man who picked up a pregnant girl, who then faints in his car, he takes her to the hospital, and then the doctor comes out, and tells him congratulations, “you are going to be a father”. He tells the doctor, “it’s not possible, I cannot be”, but the girl, says you are the father. He insists!

To prove he is not the father, he requests a DNA, after the test, the doctor says he is infertile. Extremely stressed but relieved, on his way home, he starts remembering he left three kids at home. Who is their father?

Beyond a free election that may not be fair, a fair election may not be free, or one that is free, fair but not credible, Nigerians seem to be chasing shadows with the likes of Tinubu, Amaechi, Fani Kayode, Doyin, Soludo and Ngozi trading jabs, citizens looking for certificates and PHd thesis, I doubt we really know the substance, how to deal with it and stop chasing shadows, if not for how long the tree will remain bent—Only time can tell.