The Umpire That Crashed Nigerians’ Hopes
Nigerians must defeat voters' apathy or face a more grim future.
On that day, our streets were hypercharged. Electric.
It was the culmination of our season of long lingering hope.
Great hopes and even greater expectations.
Nigerians marched to vote on 25 February 2023 — General Elections day. The jubilation and the exuberance of the people would have ignited the air.
The elections were to determine which of the aspirants will be taking over the mantle of leadership of this tottering African nation for the next four years. The posts in the contest were for; President, the Senate, and The House of Representatives.
Nigerian’s one (and maybe) only superseding quality
For good or ill, Nigerians have a self-flagellating attitude of quickly resigning and adjusting to prevailing conditions. Yes.
Unsurprising, part of our national ethos seems to be, "Suffering and Smiling." Those who don't know better (or don't care to know) erroneously tag Nigerians as the happiest or one of the happiest nations on planet earth.
The reality is that we've been so relentlessly maligned, bruised, and benumbed to all forms of misfortunes and misrule being unremittingly inflicted on us by our misrulers.
In answer to a standard probing welfare question, "How are you?", a typical Nigerian will answer you with a "resigned to fatalism" answer, "All is well". But from all indications, "All is not well".
So much is this malady ingrained (especially in the highly Christianized Nigerian Southern states) that, even in the most daring of trials, Nigerians will smile away at their pains and reply to you, “My brother, all is well o. What will man do?”
Nigeria (and Nigerians) is sick, bleeding, and dying away. Yet, there is nothing bad in Nigeria that Nigerians cannot solve. But will they? Will the forces of disunity allow Nigeria to stand?
Hyper-religious as we are, Nigerians are so disillusioned about their country that these days, a veritable prayer point is, "May Nigeria not happen to you." You must say "Amen" to that prayer because, "When Nigeria happens to you, you will know yourself."
It is not true, it is not true, when it happens to you, then you will know it is true.
~ A Russian proverb.
I live and groan with my fellow compatriots every day. Year in. Year out.
Those who feel otherwise either don't know or don't care that they don't know what they ought to know.
Nigeria will take everything away from you. It’s just a matter of time
Those who feel otherwise either don’t know or don’t care that they don’t know what they ought to know.
There is nothing that you have that Nigeria and her government system will not snatch from you. It’s just a matter of time.
You may buy the best-used car today. But sooner than later petrol will be priced beyond humane limits. Last December, around Christmas time, the pump price for petrol rose from N185 to over N500 in a matter of days. Fuel stations are located a mere walking distance apart but there is no fuel to buy.
The government perennially imports refined petroleum products. Yet, this country ranks as the eleventh largest crude oil producer in the world (2021).
Some Nigerians may brandish the latest Android phone or Apple iPad, but Nigeria will ensure you don’t have regular power when you need to recharge your devices. Instead of increasing the power supply to hungry consumers, the cronyism shielded private electric utility companies supply less power while jacking up tariff rates by up to 150 to 200% in relatively short periods.
As of writing, Nigerians are passing through the most harrowing economic hardships ever experienced in any adult's living memory.
During the last month, Nigerians woke up one morning to discover they will henceforth have to use their own currency to purchase their own currency. This is the unintended consequence of a “cash-swap” policy that was meant to stem the corrosive influence of money in Nigeria’s elections.
Here is the how and why. Read on.
The “cash swap” policy of the Central Bank's goal was to ensure the volumes of the naira in circulation outside the banking system were returned to the banking system.
Among other benefits, it was expected that Nigeria’s industrial-scale “kidnapping for ransom” business will fade out since those criminals will now know that their victims no longer have easy access to free-flowing currency.
Those were the main goals as understood by Nigerian common men. For these reasons alone, the popularity of the hugely unpopular incumbent president rose overnight.
At last, President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) is making the right moves. Why did it take him so long?
The “Cash-Swap” policy was dead on arrival.
The limited volumes of new currency notes were quickly gobbled up by the politicians in readiness for the elections that came up less than one month after the cash-swap deadline.
The government, the politicians, and the bankers with the "preying on the weak" attitude of an undisciplined society soon sabotaged this lofty and potentially transformative government policy.
Nigeria’s economy runs on “quick and ready” cash. In underbanked rural communities Points of Sales (POS) cash terminals are used by small-scale businesses. POS also serves as a relief to rural dwellers from non-existent banking channels.
While the “Cash Swap” disaster reigned, Nigerians now have to buy their own currency with their own currency. That means most Nigerians now pay anything from N2,000 to N5,000 to withdraw N10,000 from their hard-earned (supposedly safe in the bank) money via the ubiquitous Point of Sales (POS) cash terminals.
Trade by barter has returned to many rural areas. Ordinary citizens who used to bank via POS terminals can no longer do so.
Before the unmitigated disaster, POS transactions attracted 2% or fewer commissions on cash withdrawals. Now, Nigerians have to pay N4,000 to withdraw N6,000. Meaning, we now have to pay from 20% to 100% on POS cash withdrawals.
One source told me she knew of a trader who had to abandon her POS business. Why? Because the banks make her pay N25,000 to receive N75,000 into her POS “currency exchange” from where she now dispenses naira to the public at whatever commission she can get away with it. The trader said she couldn't continue with the business because it goes against her conscience.
The government said they want to make the country "Go Cashless", but the inept implementation of this policy has further pauperized Nigerians. We no longer have access to our own money.
We can no longer buy food. We can no longer buy petrol. We can no longer pay for the taxi to transport our kids to school. Nigerians are starving.
The government will scapegoat the suffering Nigerians. At first, the people praised it as a sure antidote to money-laundered politics. Now, that same government will blame its failure on our suffering Nigerians they have been left with no option.
The majority of Nigerians now live from hand to mouth. Except for the few lucky ones still gainfully employed, many average Nigerians now subsist on two or one meal per day. You have to believe it because it is true.
Everybody here is operating in "Survival Mode". That's the way things are here. Things are that bad or even worse than what I've stated here.
People are hungry and there is a simmering volcano of anger bottled up everywhere.
I know it because I'm feeling it.
This is the disaster that 8 years of President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) and his All Progressives Congress (APC) government is ramming down Nigerians' necks. This is the same party that has been rigged into power to continue for another 4 years. After 8 years, PMB is leaving Nigeria with a legacy of multidimensional poverty and according to London Financial Times, deeply flawed elections.
There is no reason why a government that has so brutalized and pauperized its citizens will be returned to power. The government’s not impartial Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) ably aided some complicit governors, other corrupt politicians, and highly compromised security and police forces helped to pull it off. Brazenly.
How did they pull it off?
The ruling party, APC, and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), (Nigerians have adopted the acronym PDAPC when referring to these discredited parties.) based their campaigns on highly polarizing divisive ethnic and religious issues.
INEC’s open brazen partiality delivered the coup de grace that nailed the coffin that buried Nigerians’ hopes.
“Will They Respect Nigerians Vote? Will our vote count?”
Come election day, at the voting center, a neighbor lamented, "It’s not that we've not been voting. But will they respect our vote? Will they respect the people's choice?"
It’s not that we’ve not been voting. But will they respect our vote? Will they respect the people’s choice.
Presciently, his ominous cry was the secret fear of every voter. Still, we pressed on. There is strength in numbers. Yes. up to a point.
Those who betrayed Nigerians openly pride in the self-implicating statement that, “It is not the people that vote that matters, but the people that count the vote.”
Nigerians have every cause to be wary of INEC. To them, the electoral umpire is just an extension of the ruling decadent party. With their shoddy plainly partisan handling of the recent elections, the pessimistic prophecy of highly respected Nigerian journalist, Rufai Oseni has been fulfilled.
In a country scared with deep ethnic cleavages and fears of religious domination, Nigerians can smell partiality from thousands of miles away.
The voters were not naïve. The ominous signs were clear right from the onset. At the end of the elections, all the BVAS (the wireless electronic voters’ scores) transmission devices became crippled and failed to send voting results to collation centers. The same story was repeated for most or all the BVAS in the state.
Conspiracy is thick in the air. There is certainly no way all the BVAS machines allocated to a state (Rivers) can all go bad at the same time. An enemy has done this or INEC itself was to blame. The people know where to point accusing fingers.
Failure by intent — INEC’s intrigues on voting day
Not only did INEC start the voting process late. At around 2.00 pm, less than one-third of 284 accredited voters in the long queue cast their votes.
It was glaring to all that everything about the voting process was designed to fail - dead on arrival.
But our people persisted.
Our victory did not last. They stole it.
Against all odds, the underdog but the people's favorite party and their candidates - Labour Party (LP) overwhelmingly won the vote for each of the three opened electoral positions (at my polling booth). This not-unexpected outcome was reported all throughout the two Local Government Areas that constitute the state headquarters.
The results that were supposed to be transmitted electronically to the collation centers right from the polling centers were never done.
It was self-evident that this was either a deliberate or self-sabotage on the part of INEC. It seems the umpire deliberately created loopholes for sneaking in falsified results.
The people's fear turned out to be more than true. The results announced three or four days later were not true reflections of what the parties agents recorded at the polling stations.
INEC has cooked up the numbers.
“Winners” in the footsteps of known sadists and criminals
So ingeniously sinister in their intentions, those who benefited from this last-minute sleight of hand now resort to the devilish doctrine of Stalinist Russia and the USSR empire of bygone years.
Infamous Joseph Stalin's dictatorial mantra, "Those who vote do not matter. But those who count the votes", now became the mocking phrase with which they torment those whose mandates were stolen.
Those who counted the votes are the not independent INEC which is answerable to the government and their APC ruling party.
This is a country where a loser in a past governorship election was declared the winner of a contest in which he scored the least. As reported, the courts declared him the victor through legal technicalities. That governor is still at the helm of affairs in his state, derisively referred to as “supreme court governor”.
In another state, a candidate who never contested for a senate position had his fellow contender deprived of the ticket. This was also through the courts’ railroad.
Nigerians are helplessly aware of the apparent non-neutrality of first, INEC, and now, the courts.
All of them are compromised.
Public Interest and Human Rights Lawyer, Barrister Inibehe Effiong captured it succinctly in one of his tweets
As if to rub pepper into our wounds, the electoral robbers jeered at their opponents and their supporters. They told the “losers” to go to the courts to seek redress. But we all know that,
When a thief encourages you to go to court, know that his elder brother is the judge. (East African Proverb)
As of the time of my writing, INEC has already declared the winner in an election where most Nigerians believe, INEC without remorse bears the burden of partiality.
The country is awaiting the swearing-in of the new president, but Nigerians are in a hushed-up state of mourning.
From “Supreme Court governor”, Nigerians have now coined the title INEC President of Nigeria.
Our mandate has been stolen.
But Nigerians, must not surrender to apathy
As a fallout of the perceived partiality of the umpire, some of my Facebook contacts have now vehemently resolved to never participate in any future voting.
Tell them they are wrong because that self-defeating attitude is the mindset all fraudulent politicians wish their unsuspecting people to have.
Tell them, tell Nigerians who are longing for a better day that indifference is the surest way to lose our already hard-won small gains. Corrupt politicians want voters who are indifferent as this gives them the chance to manipulate election results.
“I won’t participate any longer. I cannot vote.”
“Since the government is never going to respect our choices, why then do I need to vote?”
“Why must I border? Why must I waste my time.”
“There is no point participating in an election whose outcome the government will never respect.”
“There is no pointing going to vote when the government has already predetermined and allocated electoral votes to those they want to succeed them”
Those are the plethora of electorates self-limiting and self-perpetuating utterances. All these are due to their mounting frustrations.
The fallout and consequences of such a debilitating mindset are unimaginable.
Nigerians must not give in to apathy.
Nigerians are rightfully cynical of INEC, the APC government. This is a government determined to hold on to power indefinitely by fair or foul means. They will always relish the indifference and sagging morale of their already brutalized and famished cash-strapped electorate.
Say no to apathy. Nigerians must resolve to sustain and lock in their hard-worn political gains. Legally.
What luck for rulers that men do not thin.
Adolf Hitler (1889–1945)
It is not yet over until we get it right.
That was part of the answer to my Facebook friend.
We Must Not Surrender to Apathy.
Hear me out.
First, the alternative is even grimmer.
If we hadn't participated massively as we did, the outcome would have been worse than this. It was the mass participation that exposed their daylight robbery.
No place to hide.
Unlike in the past when only a few dozen of people used to vote in a community of thousands, this time around, thousands trouped out to exercise their rights.
Low turnout always makes it easier for election robbers and thugs to perpetuate their mischief. And that is why they want to cripple our morale.
We must not play into their hands.
For Nigerians who long for a better tomorrow, indifference is not an option.
Nigerians must not fall for the dark clouds of hopelessness and the benumbing anesthesia of "Nothing we do can ever change the situation on the ground."
It's never going to be over until Nigerians set their country on its feet.
There were three more first-time voters from my house. We all stayed at the polling station till around 8.30 pm. In the end, “they” still snatched away the ballot boxes. But not until the mass of voters has recorded the ballots score duly verified by all the party agents.
They are free to beam their illicit victory to the world, but at least we know the truth of who truly won at my polling booth.
We are no cowards
Surely, you won’t call me a coward when an armed robber assaults me with his AK-47 at my forehead demanding, “Your life or your vote.”
No matter how they may wish to dismiss it the forces Nigerians are contending with are not interested in a true democracy.
Surely, you won’t call me a coward if an armed robber assaults me with his AK-47 at my forehead demanding, “Your life or your vote.”
Right from the start, the APC party did was to use religious and ethnic bigotry, as well as ignorance and multidimensional poverty to polarize the country.
No sound Nigerian could have voted for a government that has viciously brutalized and pauperized its people.
As if prescient of the foreboding government orchestrated looming ahead of the then yet-to-be-conducted general elections a popular highly informative blogger warned the government and Nigerians of the landmines that were purposely set by INEC to guarantee the failure of this general election.
The government and INEC heard and knew of these pitfalls, yet failed to do something to mitigate them. They failed to amend them because correcting those dangers would have made it more difficult to carry out ballot rigging to such a monumental level.
As it where preordained negative consequences are what Nigerians received as shocks in the last elections.
PMB’s tenure ends in May 2023. Today, the country is more divided and the people’s standards of living have fallen below what they were before he ascended the throne of Nigeria’s government 8 years ago.
This is the sad legacy PMB is living behind for Africa’s most populous country.
No matter how much he whitewashes his hands off INEC's disastrous disservice to our richly impoverished nation, the buck will never leave PMB’s table. His posterity will never be innocent of the injustice he and other enablers connivingly wreaked on our withering tottering country.
We are happy and proud that we did our own part 💪. And by God's grace, we won't give up. We will do it again.
Nigerians can hold your heads high that they didn’t chicken out this time around.
This chicanery happened because the government of the day wanted it so. INEC couldn't have rubbished us this way without the complicity of the PMB, some governors, compromised security agencies, and our Machiavellian politicians.
Nigerians, mark it, evil always carries in its belly, seeds of its own personal destruction.
One day, and very soon, a Daniel will come to judgment. What are you gonna do when that day comes to meet you already smothered by apathy and indifference?
Therefore, we must keep on in this struggle so as to hasten forward that day. Like you, I'm equally bruised, brutalized, and battered - tears of blood.
But one thing I will never do is give up.
We will keep on with this struggle until we prevail.
It will never be over until we get it right.
So help me (us) God. Amen.
The government you elect is the government you deserve.
Cleaning up their evil deeds
Already, they are cleaning up their hands of their evil deeds. But try as much as they can, their bloody hands and dead consciences will never be vindicated.
One thing is certain, those, in the words of Nigeria’s illustrious Poet Dike Chukwumerije, “kidnapped a whole nation on election day have no plans to use it for good.” You don’t need to go far to prove him correct.
Some Nigerians ignorantly don't care about the implications of what they don't know.
Do not subscribe to their "It is God's will" fatalistic anodyne.
What we should rather do is team up with other lovers of Nigeria to sustain this struggle - legally and peacefully.
Nigerians are well justified to be cynical. But we must arise and sustain this hope.
That is what Nigerians should pursue now instead of wringing their hands in complacency.
Remember, evil always embeds in itself, the seeds of its own self-destruction.
Unfortunately, many Nigerians don't even know what we're up against.
Some people are already celebrating a stolen mandate.
Others are telling us to relax and get back to business as usual. instead of asking how we can break through the barricades of injustice and infamy.
These hydra-headed minions use democratic institutions to climb to power & afterward destroy those democratic ladders & institutions.
If you doubt me look at the hubristic "in-your-face" triumphalist body language of the riggers. the “rigged for” and their enablers.
You see these brazen, vicious men everywhere. Yet they quickly tag aggrieved Nigerians for gaslighting them.
What You Can Do
Don't rush to congratulate electoral robbers
Europe and America are overfilled with their own troubles. It is not expected that they will carry on any of the Nigerian problems.
Daily, Nigerians are braving the inferno of the Sahara desert and the roughest waves Mediterranean sea to escape the hellish dungeon at home. Please, Europeans and Americans spare them.
The rest of us back at home is as good as sheep marked for slaughter. But dead men don't fear death. We will remain here and slug it out.
This link gives you the level of viciousness Nigerians received at the hands of those who raped away their hopes in the 2023 Presidential elections.
This is the link to an original tweet showing bloodied and brutalized members of Nigeria Youth Service Corp members at an election venue. If you click on the link now this is a screenshot of the image you will see.
Apparently, the government or its agents have been cleaning up their dirty business. You can still click on the links below to see the screenshot of the original tweet and the video of this brutality done to (NYSC) youths serving their country as INEC officers.
This is the electoral heist politicians, election riggers, INEC and the government are backslapping themselves about.
They successfully carried out a coup against the will of our people. Is this truly worth it? Is this a worthy legacy for any outgoing president to leave for his country's people?
What can you do to help Nigerians?
To their credit, several Western and other governments have helped to support and promote democracy in Nigeria. On election day, European Union Election Observer Mission was at my polling station. Their first preliminary report on the recently concluded general elections was unambiguously damning.
Elections held on schedule, but lack of transparency and operational failures reduced trust in the process and challenged the right to vote
Nigerians are choking and being strangulated of breath by their own governments. Unfortunately, in a highly polarized world, their preoccupation with the war between Russia and Ukraine and the attrition between China and USA. It is understandable if they do have not time to spare for a supposed African giant that cannot manage its own internal affairs.
Nevertheless, there are still many things the Western and other governments of goodwill can do to help Nigerians.
DON’T be in a hurry to congratulate a president who is adjudged by his people to have stolen their mandate. I won’t blame you if you do. But please don’t do it. Our country is in a mourning mood.
Freeze the foreign bank accounts of those proven to have aided directly or indirectly been involved in the rigging of Nigeria’s 2023 General Elections. You’ve already done that to Russia and her oligarchs. Do the same for the sake of the suffering and helplessness of over 200 million Nigerians.
Don’t allow them or their dependent's visas to visit or live in your country. Neither should you allow their dependents to live or study in your country. Many of these “spoilt” corrupt politicians and government officials’ children are out of touch. They strut about, uncaring and oblivious of the agonies their compatriots at home are suffering. Their parents in the evil cabal of these crooked politicians’ misgovernance brought these hardships on us. They know it even if they don’t want to admit it.
Hordes of Nigerians are daily daring the unforgiving Sahara and gigantic waves of the Mediterranean to escape into Europe. Please your governments and people should not withhold their compassion from them. You did it for beleaguered Ukrainians. No, we don’t begrudge your help to your afflicted and persecuted brothers. But please do not withhold the same help from Nigerians fleeing from hardships and inhumane governments at home. Indeed, your governments and taxpayers have done well. To come to think about it, whoever wants to waste his resources on those who do not wish to help themselves? This is the tragedy that has been eating up our land.
Some change.org online petitions are presently circulating on the web. Our goal is to draw your attention toward known bad actors, (government, individuals, and organizations) who make it impossible for Nigerians to live in peace and enjoy economic prosperity. Please when you receive these petitions do not hesitate to hear our pleas and take needed actions to wipe away our tears — give us hope.
An evil plan is not an evil plan without a high body count of useful idiots.
Nigerians are always quick to appreciate any good move from our government. We are very easy to satisfy as what we are asking for are the barest of necessities, — protect us from murderers and bandits, give us electricity, keep our schools open, and above all unite our country.
Any president or government that can’t or won’t meet these basic expectations from their people is indeed wicked beyond words.
We will keep on with this struggle until we get it right.
Please help us to hasten that day.
As an active participant in the recently stage-managed, not impartial Nigerian General Elections 2023, this is my personal opinion and impressions of what transpired — as true as I saw and knew it.
Nigeria’s General Elections were held on 25 February 2023.
Thank you for reading.
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This essay was originally published on Medium by the author.
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