At the dawn of the 21st century, Nigerians welcomed democracy with glee. There was no one that wasn’t tired of the military jackboot. Nigerians were tired of being ordered about by a maximum ruler like zombies. They yearned for the freedom that comes with democracy, they eagerly cried for the freedom of speech that came with the rule of law.
And they got it. But not without a price. Most outstanding is the administration, immediately preceeding the democracy we have today. The regime of General Sani Abacha (1995—1998) became the height of vexatious military escapade and the most daring autocracy in Nigeria ‘s living memory.
Although he had good intentions, Abacha became a terror to his own people. The battle to dethrone the regime became a tough one, people paid the ultimate price. A case in reference is the Kudirat Abiola case who was murdered in Ikeja,Lagos. People like Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu went on exile, lost freedom and property in the bid to secure democracy for Nigeria.
Then Abacha died mysteriously in office on the 8th of June, 1998. General Abdusalami Abubakar stepped in to correct some of the ill. He quickly conducted an election and then here we are.
Now this is not a historical journey but a journey of soul searching for Nigeria. A period of self examination for a country which is so blessed by everything but leadership. The story was told of some representativs of some countries who went to visit God, accusing Him of favouring Nigeria with all the resources that could put it above every other nation on earth but God smiled and replied them: my sons don’t worry, you will see the kind of leaders I am going to give them
Whether that joke is right or wrong, Nigeria is in search of leadership. From the religious to the political circles the Nation is in dire need of leadership.
Over time we have had slave masters masquerading as leaders. Stories abound of Governors who stole their states blind and thereby impoverishing their people and wasting destinies. These are States that sit on multi million dollar spinning potentials. States like Kogi, Enugu, Nasarawa, Sokoto etc sit on sold minerals which can give them billions every year.
But the question is, what are we doing about it? Nothing.
From the days of Obasanjo to the days of Buhari, leadership has been what we have lacked and nothing else.
These leaders have come with different plans, stories, promises and ‘visions’ which have amoune to nothing in the end. Hopes dashed, money wanted and value bless time lost because of lack of vision. No wonder the Holy writ says my people perish for lack of knowledge.
One thing that baffles me is the tendency for things to get worse in Nigeria, in spite of the loquacious braggado of the politicians. Even institutions which should help the nation to attain development are just dropping in value everyday.
Such is the fate of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC which has started to nosedive in terms of the result it achieves.
The exit of Professor Attahiru Jega and the in coming of the present INEC chairman is the undoing of the Commission in Nigeria. Since the Professor Mahmud Yakubu led INEC started its operations, one word has been on the front burner. Inconclusive.
The word has now been added to the Nigerian Political lexicon.
Time and again, Nigerians begin to wonder what has gone wrong in the same INEC where Professor Jega held sway and all Nigerians built confidence in. Delivery became the problem for his successor.
From treatment of the staff, ad hoc that is, to the conduct of the elections itself, everything has changed. A walk around polling stations on any election day would tell you that the days of INEC being trustworthy are gone. Just like a man, you know when your darling wife is no longer the woman you married. And now we mourn.
What is the reason for the INCONCLUSIVE nature if the elections?
The Prof gives an answer. The inconclusive elections shows that votes are counting. He was reported to have said.
And we were all wowed! So does it mean votes didn’t count under Jega? This opens up a lot of questions, like a Pandora box. That statement alone was an indictment on Jega’s stewardship as the chairman of INEC.
Did we really have an unbiased umpire in Jega? Did we really know who we trusted with our national destiny?
Now it is becoming clear that two things are involved in this statement. Is Jega really or did the bidding of some other persons, throughout the period he held the fort at INEC?
Or is Mahmud trying to paint Jega black just to save face?
We can’t explain why INEC, which should improve keep churning out inconclusive results just a year after it was widely hailed as Nigeria’s most outstanding institution in the year 2015.
A look at the Rivers State rerun elections and the FCT Area Council elections would reveal the incompetence of the present day INEC. Agreed the Rivers State election were fraught with irregularities but what about the ones from Abuja? What happened? There were no cases of fighting, no gun running, no violence, no kidnappings etc. Yet INEC declares elections inconclusive in four area councils.
No one seemed to understand until the chairman made that disheartening statement. This brings me to the sadness that is the hallmark of our country. Everybody does what they deem fit. Everyone is the Lord of the manor. Leadership defects have made us a laughing stock in the International Community.
We have heard that the Americans and the British have some of the best election results, yet we hardly hear of inconclusive results. Does it mean votes no longer count over there? Really one does not understand the man at the helms of affairs at INEC.
My humble suggestion is that Prof Mahmud should try to get his acts right if it is a simple case of incompetence or unprofessional conduct. But in case it is a case of trying to please a set of people and, by that, casting Nigeria, Jega and INEC in ridiculous lights across the world, he should be told that there’s life after office, where a man would face the moral consequences of their actions.
Nigerian public officials should be able to to manage their personalities along with the fact that they have the judgement of posterity in mind.
Our leaders should work with the mindset that we have all worked for this democracy and it must work. Certain steps and actions might just be endangering our hard earned democracy.
Written by Alex Agbo