Is Nigeria dying – I

Nigeria’s Presidential Elections have always tested us: They have always brought out the best, the bestial, the absurd and most times, the most despicable, in our diverse, totally polarized country. On the surface and in appearance, all seems well. BUT, no. All is not well. To say all is not well in Nigeria, is to state the obvious. Is Nigeria dying? Are we like the famed, dying, floundering planet, that is sending out its cries for help? I think so, but, I do not think it’s terminal. So sorry to disappoint you. We are a resilient nation. We bond. Our people have always been peaceful, friendly folks, until, the “educated” came in. They introduced us to the “badness” of the different peoples. They opened our eyes to the bad points of each tribe.
Who am I? Why have I chosen to open a blog? Why have I chosen to write analyses of news; Especially, those about Nigeria? I love my country and daily I see the immeasurable disservice done to her by people, who claim to be our leaders. And by ourselves, who claim to Love her. My blog may not be anything really new, but, I bring a fresh perspective: Of a practical politician. Of once a soldier – by no means bitter. I enjoyed every bit of my years as a soldier and as a politician. I marvel afresh at the stunning, wide-eyed dishonesty and child-like lie telling of politicians. They look you in the face and lie unashamedly. I assure you that I am one of those rare politicians – card carrying party member, but, a true patriot. I am detested by my fellow politicians, who call me, “colonel” to my face, but, lacerate my back. So, believe what I write. Dare I claim to know everything? Was it not Lord Dennings, who famously stated that the good lawyer is not he who knows all the law, but, he who knows where to find the law? Am a poet. A scholar. A soldier. A gentleman. A father and most of all a grandfather. I left out politician, because I believe am a failed politician.
• The Nigerian General Elections, 2019.Each General Elections, the Nigerian Media, deliberately heats up the polity to sell their papers or whatever medium. The Nigerian Media practitioners are about the best in the world in headline casting. On 16th Feb, millions of Nigerians will troop out to cast their votes, for 67 or more Presidential Candidates. One will become our President for the next deciding 4 years. For us, every election is a “deciding” one. However, this year is truly the first of two “deciding” years. The second will be 2023.This year, could the “general dissatisfaction “generated by the Media, influence the voting for the Presidency? In 2015,quite against “popular “ predictions and prophecies, Muhammadu Buhari dethroned the incumbent, the placid, widely derided” the clueless one”, Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari had contested three previous elections – lost each, in tears. Some of us hold that these losses turned the quest to be President, into a near demented obsession. So, in 2015, Buhari, the perennial under achiever won, and the incumbent, slid into the hole of obscurity, he came from. The interesting tidbit is that now the tide has turned according to the hungry, underpaid, underworking, brown envelope trained Media. With a pot of porridge, the Nigerian journalist will turn a saint to Shaitan’s offspring. The rut is that bad. So, in this year of election, a creative journalist, quoting “impeccable sources” from the crazy Donald Trump’s White (?) House, said that Donald Trump’s aside, caught on hidden microphones, dubbed President Buhari as “lifeless”. I wonder which is more complimentary – lifeless or clueless? Anyway, Buhari is at bay: A “go slow” man, without any sense of time, awareness and with an unnamed debilitating illness. His opponent, equally a septuagenarian, with a thoroughly questionable past, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who boasts of having a wife from each of the six geopolitical zones of the country- and a few others from USA and other parts, known and unknown. Ordinarily, it would have been a no contest, but, since Atiku performed two unbelievable sleights of hand, we are becoming more respectful. First, he singlehandedly bought over 5000 delegates, with $5000 each (about 2,000,000 Naira).While we were still exhaling, he took up the gauntlet thrown by the rival All Progressives Congress (APC) Party. He was once in APC, but, went back to the rival People’s Democratic Party (PDP) under which he was Vice President. He went to the United States. A country we were told he is wanted for fraud, money laundering and sundry related offences. Whether he went as an “aide” to the Senate President, a widely and “impeccable” broadside or that he paid One million dollars to a former Trump publicity manager, is in my opinion, irrelevant. He went. He entered the USA; and even stayed at the Trump Towers. When I said there are 67 Presidential Candidates, I also should have said we have a world record setting 90 registered political parties. Clever Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).Oh clever INEC! Register all applicants and produce a tome. Since Nigerians could be impatient people, I doubt if some parties will get more than 1000 votes, nationwide. INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION AND PREPARATIONS FOR 2015 ELECTIONS. It is said the man who listens to all advice, never gets any job done; or, at best does a shoddy job. I have this disturbing feeling that the INEC Commissioners, spend almost all day going through newspapers and the social media, poring over criticisms and advice. Is the INEC capable of conducting these Elections? Oh, on paper. Yes. But, the reality on the ground belies the assertion. Like most things Nigerian, we are experts on paper, but, virtually incapable of practicalising the expertise. I once attended an INEC organized Train the Trainer Workshop, in Bukuru. We had loads of different manuals, pencils, erasures, snacks and our allowances. What we didn’t have was time. Like now, we had less than two weeks to get the Adhoc staff ready. Of course, we rushed them and told them to learn on the job. It’s a Nigerian malaise called the “fire brigade” approach. Yet, the INEC had its budget approved without amendment and four months ago. According to the Nigerian National Assembly Joint Committee on the 2019 Budget,” approval became imperative to enable Nigeria prepare adequately for the elections”. All grammar as far as INEC is concerned. We are in for strained times. MRS AMINA ZAKARI, COLLATION CENTRES AND VOTE COUNTING. Mrs Amina Zakari, an INEC Commissioner, made worldwide headlines when the opposition parties rejected her appointment as Head, Collation Centre, with justifiable reason. Dr Frankenstein, see your monster. Mrs Zakari, is educated, experienced in electoral matters. Very experienced in ALL ELECTORAL MATTERS. So, I wasn’t surprised when the other parties protested. As I said, Mrs Zakari is vastly experienced that the PDP would not allow her near the Presidential Collation Centre. Small matter, you’d say. Not quite. You see, in an Election, the collation centre is where Professor Peller’s (our own Houdini) clones perform dazzling sleights of hand. All the riggings are done here. Figures shift and change here with dazzling rapidity. The PDP knows. There is this story that professors from the universities beg the INEC to be assigned to “lucrative” states. These lucrative states are those that are battleground states. There was a time, universities in Nigeria were truly ivory towers. Away from the madding crowd. Apolitical. Hence the decision to use the universities’ Vice Chancellors as Returning Officers. Has it helped? I deviate. Sorry. If a Vice Chancellor snags any of these “battleground states, he is made. In Nigeria, if they say you’re “made”, then truly your bank balances are bulging. Many politicians do not bother to campaign. Most are not known in their constituency. Yet, they win elections handsomely. In 98% of disputed cases, the Collation Centre assisted winner remains winner. The courts really cannot trace any malfeasances. In 2015,the Returning Officer for one state, a Vice Chancellor, could not read out the result of his state on national television . Not that his glasses were smudged, nor were there alterations. No. In my opinion, one of two factors (or both) caused his stutters: 1) his head was woozy from the “alerts” he got from his bank(s), and/or,2) the brilliant manipulations and jugglings, paralyzed his brain. We all know the university lecturer isn’t the most, well paid. TRANSMISSION OF RESULTS. Now that INEC has effectively closed out all arguments in support of “electronic” transmission of results, I’ve been waiting to hear how the results will be manually brought to Abuja. In Nigeria, we may not be the original owners of an idea, but, when we finish “amending”, the original creator must bow. Yes. We, practising politicians, know what we did to the card reader. We made yeye( nonsense) of it. Manmade machine. It must serve us, not the other way. In 2015, in contentious centres, the card readers stopped functioning. The “supervisor” who is supposed to correct or put it in shape, simply vanished. The card reader refused to recognise half, sometimes, 90% of the voters. Here enters the Incident Form. Meant for 5 voters, who could not be identified by the card reader, in these contentious centres, the Form became the accreditation paper. Thus, the Incident Form was used to accredit 200 or more voters. Ingenuity should be our common middle name! It will be recalled that as INEC improved in its performance, the politicians also sharpened their skills. As Achebe wrote, “since humans have learnt to shoot without missing, we, the birds, have learnt to fly without perching”. Yes. During the 2011 Elections, the INEC, in sheer exasperation, at the political class, decided that votes be counted in full view of the voters, then duly entered, at the polling unit. Great, you’d say. Not so fast. The politicians and their agents rallied. They came up with 3 strategies: 1) To share the remaining ballot booklets among themselves. It was considered a waste to return the booklets to INEC;2) to follow the INEC staff to the Local Government Collation Centre, in a convoy; 3) to take advantage of INEC’s haphazard and crazily poor logistics planning. Thus, the better financed parties, provided vehicles from the remote polling units, to the Local Government Collation Centre. Of course, the question of “lift” for other parties’ agents is ruled out. Thus, complete and unprovable riggings are carried out. Since all these happen at night, never earlier than 12 am, you ask about the security agents and INEC staff. Please. Did you think he, the agent, be, they for party or security, had made a budget from home. It must be realised. So, is INEC ready? Next post. Quick introduction to Nigeria’s 90 political parties. And our honest assessment of the two leading candidates – Atiku Abubakar and President Buhari.

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