Together, let us assume there is a Nigerian called Peremoi, who has chosen not to vote in the forthcoming elections which some persons have rechristened FeBuhari 14. Is this out of ignorance? No, otherwise!
Voting in any democratic election is a sanction of the foundation of that particular democracy. As a sanction, voting in Nigeria is a way of saying, “’Yes, I agree that I am a Nigerian, that Nigeria has been properly founded and that ‘we, the people’ were actually we, the people who came to a roundtable to collectively agree to function together as a nation, draw up a modus operandi for how we will live together as one indivisible entity; leaving behind the tags that hitherto set us apart, religion, tribe, level of education and possible other sentiments.”’ At the moment, this is not so; hence, voting is just a charade of what it should be.
What does voting do to us as a people? It helps us to select the leaders, who will lead us through the next couple of years (expectedly bearing in mind how we have been ruled and how we have fared in the previous couple of years under whatever guise of leadership we have had). Hence, the cliché ‘Your vote is your power’. It is paramount to vote in order not to be left out in the decision-making of the right leadership and right governance. If you don’t vote, you leave your destiny in the hands of those who do. They’ll vote in whoever they think will lead them the way they want to be led without your best interest in the equation. Well, you may be lucky to have such a calculation being an envelope that covers diverse interests (you may just be lucky). So, go out and vote; it’s your civic responsibility. Anyone, who does not vote has no right to speak out against possible bad governance of those who are voted in? Yea, most likely because he or she had the right to contribute to choosing other leaders but chose to relinquish such a right. So, such should be as peaceful under a bad rule as they were towards the elections. Simple!
Here we are, Peremoi has chosen not to vote; not out of ignorance but a strong awareness and conviction of who he is and what Nigeria means to him. That goes beyond the sentiment of ‘choosing between two devils’ or ‘choosing a lesser devil’. How so? Such a choice between devils is an acknowledgement, not just of the fact that there is a devil contesting for office to be our leader but, of the fact that those contesting to be our leaders are devils and whether we like it or not, we are obligated (legally but not morally bound) to choose one of the devils we are confronted with (Peremoi argues against general perception, maybe, “Are there no other persons apart from devils to vote for?”).
Peremoi thinks, “I would have been morally compelled to vote (even if for a devil) if it had been made my personal choice from the outset to be or not to be a Nigerian. But that was not the case. As a matter of fact, being in the doghouse (as a result of the doldrums we have experienced since amalgamation, and more outstanding since independence) with devils, lesser or otherwise, has been premeditated by the incongruous wedding (welding, if you like) of the obviously divergent cultural tribes that make up Nigeria. Person wey devil born, na devil e dey resemble. No wonder we keep trying to choose between devils (not that we have other choices in this sort of arrangement that was rather an imposition, before and after independence).”
What could Peremoi in our assumption be thinking? That exercising a democratic right offered by a constitution that was imposed by the military is a sanction of that constitution. If you never agreed with the imposition, if you never believed that military provisions should be used in democratic governance, how come you choose to abide by such provisions? If you never believed ‘we, the people’ were not consulted before slotting in that phrase in the constitution, not to mention being actively involved in spelling out the provisions that follow, how come we activate sections and subsections from the same constitution only to come back later when things are not right to condemn the constitution (yet again) after many failed attempts to make it work for us? Are we babies?
For the avoidance of doubts, please read again the few but most important opening words of the constitution of the fEdErAl rEpUbLiC of nIgErIa,
“We the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
“Having firmly and solemnly resolve (I cannot remember when I, my father or my father’s father was part of this ‘firm and solemn resolution), to live in unity and harmony as one indivisible and indissoluble (can this really be true with the secessionist activities of many supposed citizens of this our ‘dear country’, especially up north and down south?) sovereign nation under God (has this sovereignty not been compromised by local terrorists, who openly assault our military and invariably the GCFR?), dedicated to the promotion of inter-African solidarity, world peace, international co-operation and understanding (hmmm, when the home front is at war with herself?)
“And to provide for a Constitution for the purpose of promoting the good government and welfare of all persons in our country, on the principles of freedom, equality and justice, and for the purpose of consolidating the unity of our people
“Do hereby make, enact and give to ourselves the following constitution:-“
These words are aboveboard but can they be true? Succinctly, it goes to say “We the people made this constitution; we enacted it and gave it to ourselves.” Really? When was that? How come I was not there when I was part of making it? How come it was the military that gave it to us, while making it appear I was part of the people who did?
“Ok. Let’s retrace our steps a little”, Peremoi suggests. At the time the individual units that make up Nigeria were being amalgamated from the littlest of them, I was not there and most likely, you weren’t either. The people who did, irrespective of their colour, language, dispositions amalgamated us or consented to it for their own reasons (could have been good reasons, though). They might have meant well; and I’m certain they did. However, most of them are now dead far beyond forgetting they once amalgamated a country now still known as Nigeria. It’s more than hundred years since then and in spite of gaining an independence that has since been mired in many difficult situations that keep pointing at the fact that the amalgamation was actually incongruous, we have never paused, even if for a fleeting minute, just to ask ourselves that pertinent question, “Are we meant to live together?” I am Peremoi and it will be my joy if the answer were a Yes. We’ll thereafter make, enact and give to ourselves a constitution that we the people have actually made. It is only then that abiding by the provisions of such a constitution really makes any sense. Unfortunately, we act like we expect the unborn citizens of Nigeria, who may live here a thousand years to come continue, foolishly, to abide by the name and provisions offered in the document of amalgamation, if there is anything like that.
Going forward, Peremoi wishes to borrow from the words of his Pastor, Tunde Bakare, which was a speech presented at the state of the nation broadcast on Sunday the 4th of January, 2015 at the Latter Rain Assembly, Ikeja, Lagos themed, “The gathering storm & avoidable shipwreck: How to avoid catastrophic Euroclydon”.
The first, third, sixth and seventh propositional alternative steps provided in that speech readily aids the argument of Mr. Peremoi:
- “Activate the constitutional provisions for the suspension of elections” (or a general boycott) until we can actually say the provisions for conducting any democratic elections in our clime were made, enacted and given to ourselves by ourselves. That’s fair enough.
- “Address the fundamentals. Addressing the fundamentals calls for immediate implementation of the report, or part thereof, of the 2014 National Conference especially as it relates to:” A. and B. (Please, see full speech). How come Nigerians forget so easily? We leave so many important things undone and care less about them; hoping things will just right themselves. smh.
- “Create a true people’s constitution that will reflect the aforementioned features”
- “Conduct free, fair and credible elections in the consensually accepted constitutional arrangement”
(Please, refer to the speech for details).
I’ll leave you with the words of Pastor Tunde Bakare, “I am further persuaded that our national reconciliation, integration and full recovery will be a wonder to the world and that leaders of nations will beat a path to our doorstep to understudy God’s power at transforming nations…. Therefore, come rain, come shine, by the grace of the living God, Nigeria will be saved, Nigeria will be changed and Nigeria will become great in my lifetime.”
The head of Peremoi is still shaking, “I will not vote; no, I will not vote but if you must vote, please, vote the lesser devil. Vote on FeBuhari 14.”