Saturday, April 21, 2007

Nigeria Votes

What can I say. I’m nervous. Nervous about the elections tomorrow. How is it going to go, what’s going to happen? Has the fate for Nigeria already been decided or do those that vote actually stand a chance to decide that on their own? Regardless of those possibilities, we Nigerians owe it to ourselves to vote, it’s a civic duty that shouldn’t be wasted.

The list of contenders leaves much to be desired, but I’ll admit, I have been most intrigued by Atiku and all the drama that has trailed him to date. It’s also intriguing to me to see, that in a complex justice system that is often subject to manipulation by the powers that be, Atiku, still came out of the quagmire of tangled thorns; blemished and bruised, but still with a pulse. Take away Atiku’s checkered genesis for a moment, one cannot help but marvel, ever so mildly, at his relentless pursuit for justice and standing up to his boss and his powerful political machinery. And sure enough, justice was served and respected. That INEC would respect the last minute ruling without tossing it into tangled debate again, was a pleasant shock to me. That the judge did not disappear mysteriously as a result; even one of the toughest critics of the situation, Gani Fawehinmi, also said that though he disagreed with the outcome of the verdict, it nonetheless has to be respected and upheld. Hence Atiku’s name being added to the ballot of contenders to rule the rough but brilliant gem of Africa, yours truly, Nigeria.

Drum roll now for elections tomorrow…what is it going to be? I was on the phone a few hours ago talking to my mother, assessing and speculating on the situation and how the elections might turn out. I asked her who she was going to vote for and after a long sigh, she said “Nigeria needs new blood, new hope, and new direction.” Obviously, I thought. Then she said, ‘Pat Utomi I’m sure will be good for Nigeria, so maybe he’ll get my vote’. I was gobsmacked! I argued with her that why would she waste her vote on a guy that, yes, has an interesting ‘economic’ agenda, but doesn’t stand a chance. She retorted back that if enough people thought like her, the guy might actually stand a chance! There I was thinking, Pat Utomi’s complex English and Economics grammar does not sway me off my feet, how much more the average Nigerian in the interiors of Jigawa or Gombe? Is he speaking a language that they can understand or identify with? I knew that Pat Utomi was running; I’ve seen his posters on walls of bridges in Lagos, I even get spam mail from his website, but I never thought I actually knew anyone personally, who was taking him seriously! Let alone my own mother! I took it for granted that she would be pro-Atiku, sympathetic to his “cause” and all the fire-ringed hoops that he has scaled through (NINE COURT RULINGS), but such is not the case. Interesting huh?
I’m still not pro-Utomi or Okotie (*cough*), because I’m not sure of the sincerity of their agendas or feel that they have the necessary political muscle and fuel to really get across to ALL Nigerians. I personally find Mr Utomi to be brilliant, but bland and uncharismatic. But I have to say, mom’s got me thinking.

I know this may all sound contradictory, and somewhat controversial, but Nigeria is very complex and needs a person with simplicity to rule it. In my personal view, I think that Nigeria has too many different facets to it to even be under one umbrella of a country. Too many languages, too many ideologies, too different traditional beliefs, so it makes sense that we all find it very hard to get along and live as “one” nation. I’ve always said that when you force a large group of people with different backgrounds, issues and lifestyles to live under the same roof, how can strife and animosity not be the obvious end result? I’m of the controversial opinion that the ideal situation would be for Nigeria to be split into 3 or 4 smaller zones or countries, where everyone goes their way. Then trade treaties should be set up with each zone and everyone lives happily ever after. Or attempts to. Those who have oil sell it to those who don’t. Those who have gas sell it to those who don’t. Those who have yams and peanuts sell it to those who don’t, etc. So for example, if a Fulani girl decides she’s in love with and wants to marry an Ijaw man, then they do so ‘voluntarily’ and then choose to live under the same roof and raise their children as a ‘choice’. But this is just my fantasy. It’s not going to happen, so back down to reality. Here we are and we are stuck with it. So which way to go from here, my brothers and sisters?

Please vote. And we’ll take it from there.

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