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Time and time again, attempting to solve a problem with the same level of thinking that created it has always proven to be delusional and a pure waste of time. Against sound logic and reasoning, many Nigerians over the weekend validated the same system that they are desirous of changing thereby limiting themselves in the process and one can only question the rationale behind their logic.
Over the past two decades, many critically-minded people have continuously posited that the major issue confronting the Nigerian state is the fraudulent 1999 constitution. This constitution which came with an electoral philosophy dedicated to fraud has managed to hold down the country this long and has kept its growth stunted. This has ensured that conversations around restructuring, fiscal federalism, and economic development have remained a mirage.
In the aftermath of the elections, despite the so-called amended electoral law and BVAS technology which was widely celebrated by Nigerians, the results of the polls have thrown quite a number of Nigerians into a bitter mood over the level of subversion that was purportedly witnessed during the exercise.
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One thing that must be established here was that Nigerians were warned about participating in the exercise without getting fundamental issues resolved. It was established that the Nigerian union was not working and needed to be renegotiated at the negotiation table. It was established that INEC was never going to conduct free and fair elections regardless of the hypocritical promises it makes if its systems were not subjected to multi-stakeholder audit and integrity tests. It was established that BVAS, IReV, and other technologies were smokescreens to conceal the real plot by the electoral umpire to sell off the elections to Asiwaju Tinubu. It was established that the most rational thing to do was to boycott the elections and deny them legitimacy. These things were clear and almost certain, yet Nigerians chose to ignore all of that for reasons best known to them.
Regardless of the outcome of the charade, whoever manages to clinch the Presidency of Nigeria already knows that he or she will be sitting on a time bomb because there is already a baggage of legitimacy hanging around the person’s neck. This should worry Nigerians and force them to resort to critical thinking and logic rather than the irrational emotional outbursts they are currently exhibiting.
Many Nigerians believed President Muhammadu Buhari when he repeatedly stated for the umpteenth time that he desires to bequeath the country a legacy of credible elections. That promise which was supposed to be the only low-hanging fruit waiting for him to pluck on his way to ending his disastrous presidency on the 29th of May, has only been proven to be a hoax. That Nigerians even believed such a promise surely says a lot about why Nigeria has remained in its current state.
The 2023 elections were systematically rigged even before the first ballot is cast on the 25th of February, and that is the truth. It is almost impossible for a flawed system to produce fair outcomes and this is something Nigerians must come to terms with. The Nigerian state is built on injustice, nepotism, wickedness and this has clearly reflected in every of its engagement.
One of the key new provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 is the electronic transmission of results to the online results portal which was supposed to be open to all Nigerians. This was supposed to provide for real-time uploading of polling results as soon as the election is over. It is designed to increase transparency and faith in the system and ensure a speedy declaration of results. There will be less secrecy and opportunities to manipulate the vote. As of Sunday, February 26, less than 20 percent of the results were available on the presidential results portal. This is not only a failure of duty but a failure that may rob the election of the much-needed credibility. The expectation was that voting and counting would have been concluded in the day and given few opportunities for negative characters who operate mostly at night.
Nigerians were bewildered watching thugs carrying ballot boxes, wounding innocent citizens whose only offence is that they came to exercise their franchise. A woman was so badly wounded that she had to be stitched; now in a blood-stained dress, she came back defiantly to cast the same vote that almost took her life!
A notable thug in Lagos was filmed asking Nigerians of South-East extraction not to vote in a particular polling unit, using ethnic slurs and the police simply watched without attempting to arrest the thug who evidently thinks he is above the law. The thugs in some other parts of Lagos declared that they were working for a particular party and that all persons who did not intend to vote for that particular party should not vote in the polling unit.
In all these failures, would any person or group of persons be asked to explain their roles and reasons leading to the failures and possibly face sanctions if the explanations are not reasonable? This is the crux of the matter that always leads to repeated failures.
These failures are not unexpected and the joke is actually on Nigerians who insisted on voting in that election despite repeated warnings to use it as a bargaining chip to force the Nigerian state to the negotiation table to have another cursory look at the structure of Nigeria. Rather than exploring that golden opportunity, many Nigerians resorted to canonising themselves as ‘Obidents’, ‘Atikulates’, and ‘Batists’ while the real problems continued to fester.
Sadly, that opportunity to reset Nigeria has been missed and Nigerians are back to being at the mercy of the President who the fraudulent constitution that the country abides by has essentially made a philanthropist. As a way out, Nigerians must at this time, explore other actions aimed at civil disobedience without necessarily being violent.
In conclusion, it has to be reiterated that restructuring is the only way to save Nigeria. Given the nature of the socio-political realities of Nigeria, insecurity, poverty, unemployment, hunger, etc can only be fought at the sub-national level and not by an over-burdened Abuja that is gasping for air under intense pressure. Nigeria needs a reset and if this reset does not happen in a matter of months, the world must start making plans to receive Nigerian refugees following a catastrophic implosion. We hope it doesn’t get to that point. Nigerians must learn to be more rational than emotional with their choices.