Many Nigerians Will Never Vote Again
Nigeria had never witnessed the kind of excitement shown by millions of Nigerians in the run-up to the 2023 elections. For the first time in this Fourth Republic, Nigerians believed that their votes could count and millions of them were determined to send irresponsible politicians packing. They were happy that they could vote and their votes could indeed count.
From the signing into law of the amended Electoral Act, to President Buhari’s consistent assurances about ensuring that the most credible elections in Nigeria’s history is conducted, to INEC’s deployment of electronic voting and transmission gadgets for the election. Nigerians didn’t have any reason to doubt the sincerity of the government to conduct a clean election.
I know a number of people who have never voted in their lifetime, but who took all the pains to register. I know many people who traveled from their bases abroad to come home and register, and returned during the election, some of them had to lodge in hotels in order to able to cast their votes. I know, at least ten people directly connected to me, who flew in from abroad on the Thursday preceding the election and flew back by Sunday morning. I know people who didn’t care about elections before now, who went to their polling booths and stayed till very late in the night. I know people who reside abroad and don’t have anything to directly benefit from the political process in Nigeria, but who supported political activities in this country with millions of Naira, just to ensure that people registered and collected their PVCs.
I know traders in Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Onitsha and everywhere else who locked their shops to ensure they registered and collected their PVCs. I know markets in this country that were locked to customer who didn’t have their PVCs. I have friends and relatives who are obsessed with their trades that they couldn’t endure closing their shops for 30 minutes, who closed their shops for whole days to ensure that their workers and themselves obtained their PVCs. I know people who paid money, good money to support INEC staff distributing PVCs so that they can collect their PVCs. I know women who were heavily pregnant and weak, who dragged themselves to INEC offices just to get their PVCs. I met old people who saw the 2023 elections as their parting gift and investment in a better Nigeria for their grandchildren. I saw a multibillionaire volunteering to control the crowd at polling units. I saw passionate Nigerians determined to use their cards to change the fate of Nigeria.
These people came from Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, Ibibio. They are Christians, Muslims, animists and atheists. They are educated, half-educated, professors and eggheads. They were united by one passion; Nigeria’s survival and growth.
Nigeria has never been united as it was before the 2023 elections. Nigerians have never found a common ground outside football as the hope of a credible election United them. At no time have I believed in the unity of Nigeria than I did during the campaigns for this election.
I was almost in tears when I got to my farm a few days to the election and one of my staff approached me with a request that he wanted to travel with his family to up and vote. He told me that one businessman from his community brought out three buses for those residing around Apo axis of Abuja to travel to their home town in Plateau to vote. I shed hidden tears of joy, for indeed, that is a great demonstration of faith in our electoral process.
Can you believe that this whole passion was frittered away by one man and the Commission which he heads? People across the country know that the election was stolen. Even those who support the APC, muted their celebration, because even though they are happy that the Party they support was declared winner, they, too, were shocked at the brazenness of the rigging.
The electoral umpire took care to wipe off the votes of these passionate Nigerians. It is not the stealing of these votes that break my heart, it is the erasure of the faith, the passion and patriotism awakened in millions of Nigerians.
A friend who resides in the US but returned to cast his vote called me this morning – our first call since the election ended. His voice betrayed his sadness. He was heartbroken, not because the election was stolen, but he felt that the perpetrators of this criminality wanted to tell them (the new and passionate voters) that they don’t exist and they are not part of Nigeria.
“How could they have erased our votes?” He asked me, his pains palpable. He told me that Nigeria has never witnessed the level of voter turnout that was recorded in the past election, yet, INEC told us that it was the lowest turnout since the Fourth Republic. If this does not break your heart, then, I understand, you understand Nigeria better than I do, and you’ve accepted that fate as a country ruled by ruthless, unconscionable and diabolic fraudsters.
There were over 15 Million first time voters in the past election and many of them, did not merely vote, they invested their personal funds, time and intellect into this voting process. They put their hearts into working to make Nigeria survive. I can tell you that this set of people will never vote again, except something drastic happens to restore their faith in Nigeria. And do you know why it is dangerous? When you make people understand that their votes don’t count, you give them reasons to be lured into extrajudicial measures in venting their anger and attempting to correct the system.
MAY NIGERIA SURVIVE!