Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Quo vadis?

Where are we going?

Some people Chxta spoke to about the (s)election fiasco are of the opinion that Nigerians should rise up against the ruling PDP. However, they are quite varied in their opinions of how such an uprising should take place. J, a girl from Edo state was particularly saddened by the arrest of Mr. Oshiomhole. Chxta shares her pain. Even from here it was obvious to Chxta that everyone (or almost everyone) in that state wanted the PDP out, so it is difficult to understand how they 'won' especially given that Oshiomhole led in all exit polls available. Koolutemper feels that there should be an uprising. She and Chxta discussed the benefits (or lack of) of that course of action a few days back.

In Ondo state, another case of robbery occurred, with INEC going against the wishes of the people and handing another term to the incumbent Mr. Olu Agagu. The elections were a farce in Delta state, but Mr. Uduaghan who coincidentally happens to be a cousin to the serving governor Mr. James Ibori was imposed on Deltans. In Oyo state, Adedibu has apparently had his way, and Alao-Akala has been declared the winner. Odili has once again bitten Awuse in the butt in Rivers, this time imposing his own candidate on the people.

In the East, it is a story of a wreckage with Ebonyi proving again that it happens to be the sanest part of Igboland. In Enugu, there have been isolated cases of violence, as has been the case in Imo, and the elections there have been declared void. What Chxta doesn't understand though is how PDP 'won' in Anambra. Given that there was absolutely no vote there (Chxta has at least 8 different people saying that), Chxta wonders how that stunt was pulled, and why does it always have to be an Igbo man doing the government's dirty work, Nwosu in 1993, and Iwu now? Why do we always have to appear to be the one's doing the dirty jobs, or being the face of dirty governments (read Chukwumerije, Ofonagoro, Nweke)?

On to the scenario on the ground: Pat Utomi seems to have withdrawn from the race. That is an insignificant withdrawal in Chxta's opinion given that he wasn't going to be able to gather enough votes to affect the outcome. But let's wait for the main media to cover that. Chxta has it on good intelligence that Buhari disagreed with the other opposition candidates on the issue of boycotting Saturday's poll. Chxta agrees with him.

Boycotting the poll at this stage won't achieve much, since the 'people that matter' have already sworn that the vote would go ahead anyway, and apparently don't give a hoot as to whether people come out or not. The question then becomes what is the course of action to take? Where do we go from here?

In Chxta's mind, and based on the majority of the views expressed thus far there are broadly two courses of action that can be taken, and both need the people to for once take a definite stand...

Amongst a lot of people both in the diaspora and at home, there is a boil and a cry for blood. People feel that this government has taken us for granted one time too many. Chxta couldn't agree more, but meeting 'fire for fire' as one guy put it yesterday is in Chxta's view a terrible mistake, for the following reasons:
1) the Nigerian police is not adverse to shooting not a few people dead in the streets.
2) it is Chxta's view that any violent protest (given our history some of which was highlighted here) would be poorly planned, would loose focus, and would degenerate to something else.
3) we would begin to see all sorts of characters (read MEND) begin to manipulate such protests for their own selfish ends, and Chxta wouldn't rule out all kinds of ethnic and religious sentiments coming to the fore, looting of shops belonging to Igbo traders in other parts of the country, or settlement of old scores would highlight such a move.

Unfortunately, we don't have the luxury of a properly educated population that can focus on the task at hand, so it would be too easy for the elite to turn what may begin as a legitimate protest against our collective disenfranchisement into some sort of divide and rule gimmick, and in the course of our history, they have shown that they can (and would) do it again and again. Lucky Igbinedion for example didn't go to stuff (or remove) ballot boxes by himself, the people who did that are part of the 'oppressed' masses. If a violent course of action is decided on, Chxta foresees a situation in Benin where it would be too easy for the PDP goons to turn the whole thing into an 'Edo vs Ishan' scenario...

A second option is also to protest, but a strong protest of the silent kind. Voting with our feet. On a good day it should be easy to send a strong message to 'our' government that we are not interested in what they are doing. Simple and short if people sit it out in front of the governor's lodge at Dennis Osadebe Avenue in Benin for example, or start a major form of civil disobedience, lock the country down, refuse to go to work. Not a soul turns up for the election (or is it selection) on Saturday, that would send a strong message to the goons running this show that we are displeased. Ultimately, the government is meant to be answerable to the people, but if the government wasn't placed there by the people, there is no way they would feel duty bound to answer to such people.

However, the drawback of this course of action is that Chxta fears that his people do not have the stamina for civil disobedience. It would only last a few days before someone would complain that she is running short of provisions in the house, or that his store at Idumota is loosing millions of Naira. Refer to the almost successful labour strike led by Adams Oshiomhole in May 2004 for a classic example of our laziness or apathy or indiscipline or --insert word here--.

So sadly, from Chxta's 'vantage' point, Chxta doesn't think there is much we would do about the robbery that occurred between Saturday and Monday. Refer to Nkem's excellent post where he gave solid examples/reasons for our current predicament.

Or is there an alternative?

Maybe there is just some light even in this very dark night. You see, last week a public holiday was declared as a pre-emptive measure to prevent a certain character from standing in Saturday's elections. Chxta had expressed serious doubts in Chxta's treatise on that public holiday (which people in the private sector at least didn't obey) that the venerable justices of the Supreme Court would knock out the judgement that we all knew was logical in time. Happily, they have proved Chxta wrong, and they practically threw the case out.

This tells Chxta that maybe, just maybe, the judiciary in Nigeria has finally found its voice. If that is the case, then it is clear in Chxta's mind that that is the route to go. INEC and their cohorts made one error that can be exploited. Before anybody can be sworn in for any position, all cases pertaining to the person's issue would have to be heard and resolved. This means that people should start a rash of cases NOW. Keep the lawyers busy, but let the PDP know that they can't run shows the way they used to before. Sue these bastards. If Chxta's memory of the electoral act is correct, then come what may, on May 29, Olu Obasanjo has to leave, and worst case scenario, the president of the Senate would take over. If that is what must happen for our voices to be heard, then so be it, but we must not allow our collective will to be crushed.


imnakoya said...

The argument in favor of boycott: The election will be rigged no matter what there no point is being on the ballot….being on the ballot means giving credibility to the polls. And this is why Utomi backed out, not because he has any chance, but because he doesn’t want to be on ballot.

imnakoya said...

Counter argument to the above: Boycott - in any form- has never worked in Nigeria. And it will be a waste for Atiku in particular to back down now, not after the stress all the legal stress.

In short, Nigeria is in a stinking pit right now!

Anonymous said...

The protests we have witnessed shows the dissatisfaction of a large section of Nigerians to a failed PDP government.

Unfortunately, protests dont last long in Nigeria. Hunger prevails and they eventually fizzle out. A very effective elite stategy is to keep the people hungry and poor.

Chxta said...

So if we are willing as a people to let something as 'little' as hunger to derail our aspirations, then we deserve what we get.

We should stop complaining.

em said...

Chxta I think the courts still remain our best option having said all. Its so annoying and irritating to hear INEC say that all elections conducted on saturday were done before the verdict of the supreme court and as such is not bound by the rulings of the supreme court. I guess the number of court cases against them are not enough and they need more. The courts have suddenly woken up to their responsibility and we would only be stupid not to utilize it.

Bubus said...

Very well written piece.
I agree with the points you make about the best possible way to address the injustices and irregularities of last week's polls.
It is ironic that Atiku, despite his corrupt reputation, has laid down what appears to be a workable template to beat the PDP executive and their puppet parastatals.

uknaija said...

I agree- the opposition should participate and gear the loins for a court battle which means carefully documenting the irregularities in preparation. That's the best thing they can do for Nigeria..

A boycott will not move us forward