How to Bring an End to Politics of Tatatarism in Nigeria

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Twenty years of democracy is not a short period for Nigeria, to have tided up her electoral processes, and advance to a new level that, voters would no longer be afraid of their lives being cut short before, during and after elections. 

I said 20 years, because the country returned to democratic rule in 1999, when the kaaki boys decided to quit the stage. Well, quitting the stage does not totally mean that they hands off from the leadership process, instead, they installed one of their own as the President. 

General Olusegun Obasanjo, was a military head of State. He was later sent to prison, but was freed in 1998, when the power boys in the military decided to transform to civilians. Obasanjo was one of them, the people I call the old boys. He was elected as a civilian President, apparently, still representing the military cabal, because once a soldier, is always a soldier. 

OBJ, as fondly called by his admirers, cannot in any way be bigger than those who made him a President. His choice, even though, the intention of the power cabal was to compensate the Yorubas from South West region, over the annulment of June 12 of the 1993, that saw to the emergence of Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola as the winner of the election, an election conducted by the Ibrahim Gbadamosi Babangida military government. 

Abiola was arrested by the Babangida junta regime, for declaring himself a President, in an election adjudged to be the freest and fairest in Nigeria ever. He later died in detention, on an eve to his supposed release. 

Obasanjo became a President on this note, and his choice was partly because he can represent the interest of the military boys in the new civilian dispensation, since they all wanted to begin to wear agbada one by one, as military rule had became old fashion at that time. So, our kaaki boys complied by installing one of their own. 

Returning to democracy in Nigeria, did not come without its own challenges, obviously, democracy of thuggery, corruption, hunger, anguish and poverty, ballot box snatching, ballot stuffing, killing and maiming of political followers, leaders and electorates. 

The complexity and challenges in the conduct of elections in Nigeria keeps growing at every election cycle. This is because, politics have become the major focus for those who wants to make quick money and power at all cost. Politics have become a game of do or die affair. Practitioners of politics in their clime have continued to research on how best, they can win with whatever means possible, including to compromise the electoral body, security forces and others involved in the conduct of the elections. 

Violence is not a new thing in Nigeria’s electoral process. We have seen it played out at different stages of our elections, from Presidential, governorship and to local government elections. In fact, even at the intra party candidate selection stages, we have seen high scale of violence, resulting to loss of lives and properties. 

The 2019 general elections is still very fresh in our memories, with various degrees of violence that greeted the elections across Nigeria, largely by incitement from candidates, parties and their supporters. 

A typical example was how the Igbos were attacked at Okota area of Lagos, prevented them from voting, while in some other areas, their ballot papers were burnt into ashes, thugs unleashed unimaginable violence on them. During the run down to the 2015 elections, Igbos, who have a considerable numbers in Lagos State, were threatened with lagoon by the Lagos monarch, that if they still want to remain in Lagos, they must not vote against their interest. This type of threat was not limited to Lagos State alone, it happened in other forms in other states in Nigeria. 

In Ekiti and Osun in 2018, there were pockets of crisis and vote buying which were captured by the eagle eyed journalists as documentary evidences, showing how crude the electoral process in Nigeria still operates. 

In Kogi, during the recent 2019 governorship and senatorial elections, there were video clips and photographs that clearly showed the high level of violence perpetrated by political thugs during and after the election. A woman leader of the opposition PDP in the state, was roasted alive in her house by political thugs. These are just few examples of why the country must move away from the barbaric and archaic electoral system. As a matter of urgency, INEC and National Assembly must commence a total overhaul of the electoral act. 

The sad part of the whole process is that, citizens have now seen violence, ballot snatching and vote buying as a norm. A video of Yahaya Bello’s supporters, that trended on social media, where they were chanting a war like song, of the ta ta ta ta, should make every rational thinking person to know that, we have reached the end of the cliff, if we don’t take a new route now, another general election coming may turn into a full blown war. 

On a flip side of my argument, we cannot sufficiently say that, the number of voters turn out during the elections, represents the interest of Nigerians. For instance, the population of the country is about 195,000,000 according to the last report. Since 1999 till date, the number of voters who usually turn out, have not exceeded 40,0000,000. If we conduct a little mathematical calculation on this figure, we would realize that, it is just about 20.5% of the total population that is deciding who leads the country as President. This figure clearly doesn’t reflect the wishes of the country in the real sense of it. 

The truth of the matter is that, not that we cannot have over 80 million voters at every elections, but nobody wants to die, since election is now marred with symbol of bloodshed, some people would rather watch the commentary on social media or on TV/radio at the comfort of their home.

Youths, who have been failed badly by the corrupt leaders, are usually seen on election day playing soccer, because they feel that, their vote won’t count, this is the dangerous narrative politicians have made them to believe through their actions and inactions . 

Turning away from this barbaric system, that leaves people with ruin after the elections, the solution is simple. 

Many other leaders have echoed my thoughts on the possible way out and solutions. Recently, former governor of Ogun State, a staunch member of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), Chief Olusegun Oshoba also posited that, it is high time Nigeria switch to a new method of voting, we must embrace innovation and technology in the conduct of our elections, this position was also shared by the National Chairman of the main opposition political party, PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, he noted that unless a process that will enable free and fair election to take place, the country will only be deceiving herself. He reiterated that, there may be no need for any other party to participate in election, since the current system is hugely skewed in favor of the ruling party.  

I have said it at different fora and occasions, that the only way our elections can improve, and have more people to participate is when the electoral act is amended, to mandate all elections to be conducted electronically.

There must be sincere implementation across Nigeria, it should not be a situation where, card reader will be compulsory for those in the South, while the rule will not apply to those in the North, the process must be uniform without any exception. 

Elections should be e-accreditation, e-voting and e-collation of results. The National situation room must have representatives of each of the political parties to monitor the process. 

Technology has advanced to a greater and simpler level, and Nigeria as the most populous black Nation should not pretend that she does not know. We desire to advance in our abilities like the United Kingdom and America but, we dont want adopt the thinking and their way of life technologically. 

Any system that will render political thugs useless, or ballot box sniffers or snatchers powerless is the way to go for Nigeria. By that time, they won’t be useful to steal votes. Sanity will begin to return, cost of elections will downed by more than half. Threat to lives and property will begin to fade away, votes will begin to count. 

The proponents of e-voting can’t work, are usually those who are benefiting from the rot of the current electoral system. By the time the ta ta ta gun wielding thugs are no longer in the scene, people will begin to show interest in elections, nobody wants to die for a country with little or no hope, but when they are assured that, from the comfort of their homes, they can vote and the votes will count, in this era of internet technology, we would all see that large population of the youths and other Nigerians will begin to decide who rules them. 

Let me say this, the youth population is very high, however, a democracy staged for them, without them, is certainly not for them. So, bringing a system that will allow them to be able to vote and be voted for will set the country on a new horizon. Fix the electoral process, and holding public officials accountabile with emphasis on stronger democratic institutions, you will see how magically Nigeria will begin to boom socially, politically, technologically and economically. 

Credit: Opera News

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