Most Nigerians are not convinced that the 2023 elections will be free or fair. And they have good reasons for the pervading cynicism and doubt. In the lifetime of most who have been voting, they’ve never witnessed a free and fair election in their country.
The growing scepticism as the elections draw near is palpable and softening the resolve and buoyancy for change. Fear and doubt increasingly rule the mind of voters even as they go through the motion of making ready to vote in the elections.
They get their PVC, note their voting centres etc. But they are not well persuaded that their votes will count, will add up to determine the outcome of the election and decide who becomes president. This growing pessimism is encouraged by politicians spreading the lie that they retain the power and connections to swing the election their way.
A different form of cynicism is ruling the mind of the politicians themselves. Many believe the boasts of their own party chieftains and believe the powerful connections and influence of their candidates can change the course of the elections. Many believe their candidates or their sponsors have the capacity of throwing money and influence to buy the elections.
Politicians make their followers believe that the election will be bought and sold no matter what anyone does or how technology is brought to bring certitude to the collation and counting of the votes. So they make people believe that no matter how candidates perform, money will work and yesterdays destructive practices will prevail.
The false confidence and bullishness showing in the ruling parties is breeding fear and hopelessness and dampening expectations in the land, making the people believe that nothing will change and that the old sturgeons cannot be removed no matter how the people vote. And this works to the advantage of those spreaders of these falsities. It is what they want you to believe so as to flip to their side. But it is not true. The election will be won on true balloting and counting.
Conspiracy theories are flying around to induce fear and hopelessness, deliberately giving wrong interpretations to the flows and ebbs of the campaigns and very prejudicially interpreting the possible outcome of the charging youth activism that can bring a new hope and energy to the land
It is for this spreading negativity that most Nigerians both intellectual and illiterate, refuse to believe the results and interpretations of the scientific polls. Scientific Polling are not believed in this clime because they contradict the assumptions by the old brigade politicians. Polls they claim, do not take account of the absence of transparency and presence of brigandage in the course of elections in Nigeria that sometimes determine the outcome. Conspiracy theories and gossips titillate the Nigerian mind. As one party chieftain asked recently: “How will statistical polling account for over-voting in the Osun elections or explain the bribes that election tribunal judges demand to undermine the entire process”?
Establishment politicians dread to be confronted with the possibilities of change and they do not want to be confronted with the prospect of being thrown out of the gravy train.
Most Nigerians, politicians, intellectuals or businessmen, are not prepared for the changes that will emerge from a well conducted 2023 elections. Beneficiaries of the present system live in the illusion that things should remain the same after the 2023 elections, but that is a forlorn hope.
Religion, regionalism and tribe, in the mind of these people and as it has always been, should determine the voting patterns and preferences and these must not change even with the ferocious storm that Peter Obi has stirred in the present election. You still hear an Islamic Mullah mouth the destructive phrase that “a bad Muslim is better than any infidel” in this day and age.
The strong edifice of conservatism and feudalism in the north is crumbling but the self entitled beneficiaries of the ancient regime are refusing to willingly accept the unraveling change.
Northern Christians are exhilarated by the liberating portents and message of the Peter Obi campaigns and have embraced him. The Hausa/Fulani entanglement is unravelling and Hausa are demanding a separate and unmistaken Hausa identity. They see this election as a moment for Hausa liberation from Fulani overlordship.
All these surging currents in the north will determine voting choices but the establishment are refusing to accept the possibility of change even while many are eagerly waiting to embrace it. There is this obstinacy and resistance to change that has brought stasis to northern social development for centuries.
The Yoruba flank is no different. The group now known as APC is the conservative wing of the Yoruba political establishment but it miscasts itself as progressive. This dubiety in self definition disrupted the known tendencies in Yoruba politics after the “àsè” sub-group rebelled and took it’s structures away from the “Afenifere” after 1999. The àsè group is a cognomen for the remnants of Awolowo’s street activators in the old AG and UPN.
The àsè sub-group took its structures and operatives from Afenifere but could not win the love of Yoruba intelligentsia nor convince the Yoruba people of their party’s good intentions. The Afenifere group are long practiced in playing national underdog and holding the moral high ground in Nigerian politics since the fifties. The àsè group present alienation, disconnection and inability to win a region-wide embrace in Yorubaland has shown the ultimate futility of the theft of the àsè identity and the disregard for Afenifere.
Against the dire warning of the Afenifere after the schism of 2001, the breakaway àsè group in Yorubaland bet on the big hope of taking on the Fulani political machine and defeating it. Bola Tinubu didn’t heed the Afenifere warnings of the incapacity of his group to deal with the Fulani. Fulani do not feel obliged to return political favours, Afenifere warned. The result of Tinubu’s misadventure was his tearful rendition in Abeokuta last week. Afenifere was right from the beginning.
Many Igbo politicians see the opportunities before them in Peter Obi presidency as threats to their own individual ambitions. Fractious and self deprecating in national politics, the Igbo would rather respect and serve the outsider than follow the leader from among them. And this is historical. Igboland was a slave hunting ground for the smaller coastal kingdoms and Igala people because it could never act together.
Most Nigerians do not believe that the true results of the election will determine who will take the presidency later in the year. Politicians themselves reinforce that attitude, that elections will remain the way it has always been, bought and sold by the rich and powerful, proving that money, high connections and ethnic affiliations will always defeat popularity in every election in Nigeria. But this election will not be so.
The belief in the existence of a powerful cabal that can override the people’s mandate and anoint who rules casts a pall of fear and apprehension over the elections. People have this foreboding that the ballots will not count in the end and this is breeding the fear of nationwide violence following the election.
As a result, youth across the country are grouping to forcefully make the true results count. This is the reason for the fear of violent conflagrations across the land if the true and just outcomes from the elections are not announced and validated. No one should be tempted to test the will of the youth of Nigeria by tampering with the results of this election. The youth and people of Nigeria have gathered more than the critical mass necessary to change the peaceful course of Nigerian history.
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