By Ebisan Atsemudiara
Man’s intelligence sought a methodology for equitable decision making, after years of authoritarianism. The Americans coined such a methodology on the 4th of July 1776 by their acts of defiance to the British crown. They borrowed the teachings of the ancient Greek sages and created a polity basking in “Democracy”. George Washington a hero of the American Revolutionary war, who in turn became the first president of the United States of America won two elections and refused a third term running, which has now set the principle upon which all other American presidents follow (i.e a maximum of two terms).
Democracy has its variations across the globe, some having a possible consecutive three terms for an elected president, others having a possibility of two consecutive terms and a third that comes later (i.e president upon seating for two terms can seek a third only after relinquishing power and then running for the position later). Some nations in the dictates of their constitutions may reconcile the semantics of a term to be either less or more than the widely popular four years. Whatever a nation’s interpretation of democracy may be, it is often marked by universal principles, which include but are not limited to equity, fairness, respect and self-determination. My fatherland Nigeria simply chose to adopt the wits of the Americans in many ways. Not every illness requires the same medicine; a proponent of this argument would be the iconic Fela when he crooned, “Teacher don’t teach me nonsense”. Fela with this song questioned what we learned from the teachers (Europeans) with their doctrines of democracy not achieving the same success in Africa as it has in the diaspora.
Looking through the years of our democracy which has largely stifled the overall welfare of our citizenry, questioned not once but many a times by the Military. This prying habit of the military birthed several coups and counter coups which resulted in a civil war and one of history’s most graphic blood baths. 2015, Nigerians were presented with two choices, a former dictator who once disregarded our reverence for the democratic process and a president who by many counts and public opinion failed during his tenure. A friend of mine described the polls as a case of the prey being given the choice between a Lion and a Fox. As it goes without saying that every coin has its head as well as its tail, one shouldn’t be overly critical of the presidential options we were given. While General Buhari ruled with an iron fist that even saw him accused of judicial murders amongst many other crimes in Wole Soyinka’s article “The Crimes of Buhari”, he has been hailed by many as highly disciplined and austere in a country were many given his position were easily guilty venality. So much he is seen as the man to bring the current corruption plagued era to an end. President Goodluck Jonathan on the hand has been accused by an enormity of Nigerians of his inability to provide security, basic amenities, job opportunities and the squandering of public funds, most notably our foreign reserves. if we consider that to be his tail side of the coin, the head would have to be his economic achievements at least when we consider his statistically unprecedented numbers which are attested to by impartial and appropriate international bodies. Taking Nigeria’s economy to the position of the largest economy in Africa, as well as the third fastest growing economy in the world.
If my two cents count for much, I might as well say this year’s general elections could borrow the pseudonym “Second Chance”. Second Chance in view of the fact that both primal candidates have once erred in their prior stints as Chief Supremo of the nation. The question was not so much a case of the better option as it was a case of the lesser of two evils. Nigeria went to the polls and decided that the lesser evil is General Buhari, I guess that’s the beauty of democracy. Democracy is so forgiving to the extremities that it is willing not only to accept a former dictator who once disregarded its constructs but even willing to afford it a chance to contest in the first place.
While many partisans will view this as a victory for some and a defeat for others, I’d like to remind all partisans that we are first Nigerians before politicians and stakeholders. If the aforementioned be true, then it behooves every Nigerian to not only observe the result of the polls but the ambience, patterns and events that surrounded the polls. The international community as well as a handful of internal observers have unanimously regarded the polls as credible and peaceful, this would imply that the ambience, patterns and events surrounding the polls that I am about to discuss are devoid of falsehood. Every so often and every four years politicians become crooners of “One Nigeria”. What shall we regard this to mean? Isn’t it to mean a Nigeria that puts nationhood before ethnicity and rationality before tribal sentiments? The polls proved different with the 36 states and the FCT making it rather easy to coin a hypothesis to delineate the routes each state took while voting. Each state casted its vote; with the North choosing to protect a son of their land by voting dominantly in favor of General Buhari and the East showing grievances from the civil war which took place over thirty years ago. It was not so much the East voting in favor of President Jonathan as it was them voting against a Northerner. They invoked the aphorism, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”. The South-south, begrudged as a neglected lot who consider themselves the sole providers of Nigeria’s Oil wealth opted to vote for a son of the land, in hopes that President Jonathan would hear their cry of neglect. The Southwest which has often times been friends of the North since the civil war sought to vote in favor of General Buhari. The landslide victories in respective regions are evidence of my claims. The only occurrences where landslides didn’t occur, were in cases where the opponent had strongholds.
Upon this observation, any Nigerian who truly cares for the future of this great country, as well as respects our history will agree that for “One Nigeria” to truly be achieved, rationality must take precedence over ethnic sentiments. To achieve this a few steps must be taken and this will come in two phases. The first would be to apologize and pay reparations to the East for not only genocide but economic stifling after the war. Who better to pay such reparations than a Northerner who is now president? And i must add this is not just any Northerner, but one who’s name is now indelibly written in our history books, one who served in military capacity during the war. Most Nigerians vote with the desires of their immediate belly rumblings than thoughts of the long term during polls. This is largely due to an endemic incapability of judging governments through finely defined metrics as a good fraction of the citizenry are both illiterate and uneducated. A secondary reason would be the obvious state of penury that plague many, especially in the rural regions. Thus; the second phase would be to not only put a focal lens on the Education of Nigerians but for the government to raise the modest literacy rate from 61.3% to parity with countries like Cuba which boasts an enviable 99.8%. Only then can any Nigerian dream of polls not plagued by ethnicity but one skewed by rationality. General Buhari has now been afforded a rare opportunity to do the necessary, not only to gain points for good governance but also to set the antecedence for posterity.
About Ebisan Atsemudiara:
He is a 21 year old writer and orator whose subject matters are negroid-centric. He writes and speaks on African history as well as contemporary affairs. His subject matter also stretches to international affairs as he sees the struggle of the black race in the diaspora as a similar one to the challenges in Africa. This has earned him the pen-name, Blacc. Connect with him on Twitter via @Blacc__.
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