Ever since former President Olusegun Obasanjo introduced the notorious lexicon – ‘do-or-die’, in the nation’s political parameters, Nigeria have suffered unfathomable incredulity especially with regard to her electoral process. General and off-season election conducted thereafter, have been marred by credibility crises.
The cliché (do-or-die) is a terrible one both in meaning and in its sound. It is no respecter or law. It knows no peace. It has no relation. Its victim could be anyone, including the person who first invoked it’s terrible fangs.
Inspite of the efforts of Obasanjo’s successor, he late former President Umaru Shehu Yar’Adua to obliterate this dangerous phrase from our political lexicon, by empanelling the Justice Mohammed Uwais Electoral Reforms Panel, met a brick wall. None of the substantial recommentions of the panel ever saw the light of the day. Even former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan who advanced his key words: ‘My ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian’, could not arrest the irascible penchant for ‘do-or-die’ to remain the undisputed heavy weight champion.
After the 2015 general elections, Obasanjo’s ‘do-or-die’ politics have acquired greater propensity, invoking all its principalities and powers, and unleashing them on the innocent Nigerian electorate. Elections conducted thereafter, have unfortunately lost all the trappings of credibility. It does not matter what anyone might say about it. Even the blind need nobody tell it that the soup last its taste; the deaf could clearly ‘hear’ the deafening orgy of its deadly fangs.
No need counting the number of casualties. They are a legion, and unfortunately, it appears the propensity for its lethal devastations are more pronounced during off-season elections. In Edo, Ondo, Anambra, Osun, Bayelsa, Ekiti and Kogi states, ‘do-or-die’ politics holds sway. It bestrides the environment like colossus. There is no missing the dangerous orgy of violence and maiming that trails its presence. Men, women, the youth (male and female), professional, artisan, including electoral umpire and observers are not spared.
What makes it worse is the nation’s security apparatus lose their credibility at such a time. Whenever they tell us we should go about our normal businesses, we immediately know, they are talking about the opposite – we know there is danger. They even tell us they have picked intelligence of hoodlums plotting to unleash mayhem on hapless citizenry, yet, such orgy of violence indeed come to pass. They take place without any let or hindrance. Unfortunately, innocent members of the public who went about their normal businesses have fallen victim. Nothing happens to the security chiefs who advised them not to be afraid of any attack.
Their deaths, hospitalization, loss of property, or dislocation mean nothing to anybody: state or public; politician or the electorate. When people get mowed down during our elections, they are simply counted as figures of the dead and sometimes buried as chicken. Life goes on. They are lost and forgotten. State functions go on without any ado. The media, as far as the perpetrators of such heinous act bother themselves, can disseminate such acts of infamy only for a few days, before the political gladiators smartly and wickedly open up another chapter: litigation, claim and counter-claim, name calling, press conferences, etc. In the end, the cacophony of noise they evoke from these permanently drown the negative effect of the tears, blood and sorrow, they had unleashed during the election.
It has remained a big puzzle that the nation’s electoral management process including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the political parties, the security agencies and members of the intelligentsia, have been denied ability to fix this monstrous ‘do-or-die’ mentality. And so, with every election, the adrenalin of the ordinary Nigerian rises beyond their normal parameters.
With the forthcoming Edo and other off-season elections, can we in the name of the Almighty God, act differently? Can we please embrace the path of integrity? Can we please place honour above selfishness and the consequential oddities of our politics?
Already the evil drummers are beginning to beat the drums of death. Strife are gradually being escalated. People born of women and who eat yam and beans, are beginning to plot to snuff life out of another, including non-political actors. Signals emanating from Edo show clearly that all is not well. It is clear that blood will flow, except the ecclesiastical occupies pre-eminent position in our hearts. But, it does not appear so. All the bad boys are warming up; their barons are getting ready. But, why not, if those who we were told were apprehended on electoral violence have not been prosecuted and if they were, none has been convicted? If the security agents we saw on television screen committing electoral infamy turn out to be fake operatives, why then should another round of misdemeanor not occur this time? If university Vice-Chancellors could so unabashedly be looking for light, extra light, ruler, extra ruler to do simple arithmetic of summing up simple figures, and in the end their figures fails to add up, and none is prosecuted for such brazen deception, why should Mr. ‘do-or-doe’ not resurface?
I am convinced that what we call national election in this clime is way far from the tenets of an electoral process. It is more of a war, a regurgitation of might above decency; a suppression of sanity; denigration of every sense of our humanity and decorum. Such should not be allowed to continue.
We live with the ugly consequences: people feigning to have fainted when confronted with the humongous amount of money they diverted from public till; people shouting ‘please put off your mic’, making a pooh-pooh of legislative inquiry to alleged sleaze; people engaging in kidnap of potential sources for leaking their dirty act in public office; over-dramatisation of act of corruption, as if we are watching African Magic; using such words like Ajegunle, Ikoyi, Maroko, Lugbe, Karmo, Idu, Asokoro, to obfuscate the thinking faculties of the Nigerian populace.
We may succeed in destroying our political sanctity, but, we also have destroyed our future. What we sow, we reap, so the Bible says. You cannot sow yam, according to the late legendary Majek Fashek, and reap cassava. If we destroy our tomorrow, as we are gradually, but steadily doing, who is to balme? Our colonial masters? Our other African brothers or non-Africans who live among us but have no right of franchise? Do we blame God or the devil? As some criminals often say when they are apprehended: ‘the devil pushed me into all these’. Are we going to blame the devil if we fail to get it right in Edo, Ondo and other election? We blame ourselves and none else if we don’t get it right. The restoration will not come from another planet, we have to do it ourselves.