By; Jerome-Mario Utomi
“A- na ekwu na okuko a manye onu na nri, ochiri ukwu n’abo tinye (literarily translated as; a fowl is been accused of putting its mouth on a plate of food, yet it went ahead to step on it.).
The above Igbo adage fittingly typifies the feelings by Nigerians in the morning of Saturday 16th February, 2019 when the INEC boss, Mahmood Yakubu during a press briefing in Abuja stated that ‘following a careful review of the implementation of its logistics and operational plan, and the determination to conduct free, fair, and credible elections, the commission came to the conclusion that proceeding with the elections as scheduled is no longer feasible,”
Indeed, like the foretelling of a future event by a person supernaturally informed of it and supernaturally moved to announce it, Nigerians with critical interest have hitheto complained about the not too impressive preparation for the general elections by INEC.
Adding context to this discourse, why this develpoment is ‘squeezing the life’ out of our political space is that annulments, cancellations and postponement of elections and ban of candidates before, during and after elections have become not just a native on our political spaces. But have brought apathy on the part of the electorates, and ‘business-as-usual’ to the politicians as statistics powerfully points out.
What’s worse, we have repeated that same mistake.
But of all these, the question still arises; worthy as all of these new-found reasons by INEC appears, do they collectively justify the expectations of Nigerians?
Critically, looking at the intra, inter and cross political comments on our wavelength, INEC’s claim seems a good idea in principle, but the reality, however, was not just sad, but unfortunate consdering the timing, poor management of information, and resorces wasted by both the country and the people.
Against this backdrop, aside from gross inefficiency glaringly identified, impunity! Is the word that best describes the reason behind the action. Particularly, this should not be strange to all as we are in a country where politicians and public officers behave recklessly without thinking of the short and long term damage their acts of impunity have on the psyche of Nigerians albeit the entire world which is also watching’.
For instance, prior to that Saturday morning, electorates all over the country have made ‘exciting progresse’ in ther decision to support our participatory democracy. But with this development, INEC has laced this serious breakthrough with limitations.
Consequentially, the weak, the timid and the irresolute will by this ‘natural process’ fall into apathy, candidate’s with a low level of competence may be voted in, our economy will falter and the masses will suffer.
Still coming as an effect, with Nigeria being a country where tribal and political loyalties are stronger than a common sense of nationhood; INEC action will further polarize the nation’s political space along this axis. Particularly now that the opposition’s political parties are not sitting by to watch the All Progress Congress (APC) from the sidelines. As they too have entered the political arena with a bang and have set their eye on Aso Rock villa.
Essentally, INEC action should be considered a reality to worry about by all is because poor countries such as ours are poor not because of ignorance or culture but because ‘those who are in power make choices that create poverty. They get it wrong not by mistake or ignorance but on purpose. And to understand this, ‘one must go beyond economics and expert advice to study how decisions are actually made, who gets to make them and why those people decide to do what they do’.
In that order, while the commissiion remain indicted in my views as their action was amazingly devoid of sound judgment, one point they (INEC) must not forget is that safeguarding democracy require all to have a keen sense of foresightedness, independence, self respect, and oneness that will help the people insist upon choosing as their representatives only such persons that are good and true.
Typically, it was the masses inability to keep to the above in the past that is responsible for why the nation continues to lay prostrate and diminish socially and economically with grinding poverty and starvation driving more and more men into the ranks of the beggars, whose desperate struggle for bread renders them insensible to all feelings of decency and self-respect, the privileged political few continue to flourish in obscene and splendor as they pillage and ravage the resources of our country at will.
This is a frightening situation, but like every other socioeconomic challenge, it will be difficult to correct or meaningful changes implemented in INEC when the individuals who are the cause of the problems in the first place are still around. And attempting to engineer prosperity without confronting the root cause of the problems and politics that keep them going in the writer’s views is unlikely to bear fruits.
To win, Nigerians must first harness the opportunity presented by the forthcoming general election to reject those that manipulate public opinion, by placing their faith in the technocrats who have integrity, intellect, energy and strive to move the nation forward.
Most importantly, as Nigerians continue to question the present administration why the power freely given to them in 2015 has not been used to end the sufferings of Nigerians and provide employment for the millions of unemployed youths, we must also lament the failure of privileges which we have ‘granted elected and appointed leaders like INEC officials to be enough motivation to please the ordinary people of the land, the millions of people without privilege. INEC appears to have forgotten that to deploy privilege to the benefit of the common good is the highest service which mankind can give or receive. To serve the people is not a right. It is a privilege based on trust. That trust sadly has been misplaced by INEC.
Whatever the true position may be, truth always has a way of coming out, and the truth behind INEC’s action will not be different. That’s the hope.
Jerome-Mario, A Journalist (firstname.lastname@example.org ) writes From Lagos.