THE NIGERIAN JUDICIARY AND ELECTION RIGGINGS IN NIGERIA
At worst the election should have be nullified and redone again. Have we been let down by that organ of the society that is supposed to be the last bastion of hope for the common man? One of the contestants’ disappointments could not be more emphasized as shown in the quote below:
“We shall never compromise with their oppressors. We shall never sell out to their oppressors. We shall never compromise with those who steal their money; deny them education, deny them healthcare, deny them adequate drinking water, deny them good roads, leave them unprotected and steal their votes. I am not in this for myself alone or for the glory of office. I am in it to serve them and to help protect their interests.” – Mohammad Buhari (ANPP Presidential candidate 2007 election). The them in the quote are the down trodden Nigerian masses.
For many years since I became an adult, I have been wondering if Nigerians really knew, that by rigging elections all of the factors mentioned by Buhari are truly being denied them? In life we all have choices either as individuals or collectively as a nation. Unfortunately, in my own opinion the choices we have made collectively as a people of Nigeria is to sit on the fence, leave the fights for octogenarians like Gani Fawehinmi and others, like Femi Falana, Soyinkas etc, without any shred of supports from us the masses. I fervently believe that if the masses have lent their massive supports to the fights of the mentioned people above, election rigging, treasury looting, deprivations, poverty would have been a thing of the past. Perhaps, may be people like myself and those human rights activists do not really understand the Nigerian masses. May be the current status quo is what the Nigerian masses prefer? The chaos and the jungle justice? May be this is what the people of Nigeria really like, hence they choose or prefer not to rise up and fight for their rights. May be the current state of penury, misery, lacking in the midst of plenty is the rights that the Nigerian people strive on. Could it be that those of us who see the current state of events in Nigeria as oppression do not understand the meaning of oppression in the Nigerian context? Questions, intrigues and all. One thing I do know however is that there are a lot of things in Nigeria that defy logic.
Are the people of Nigeria satisfied with their lots? I somehow reluctantly want to believe that they do, that is satisfied with all the pillages, miscarriages of justice, police oppression and every other thing evil. If they do not like the current status quo, by now they would or should have come out in droves, in millions to challenge the injustice, oppression and deprivation they suffer on daily basis. It would also not be the first time that people who do not like oppression and injustice would fight for their rights. Some of us witnessed such uprising by the Greek students in the 1970s to rescue their country from military dictatorship, and turn their country in the right direction. What about the South Korea experience, students versus military? South Korea is all the better for it now. Shamefully, we import their LG electronics, Cars, Human Resources, when we also should be manufacturing and exporting similar gadgets to other parts of the world. For an average myopic Nigerian who misunderstands sentimentalism as patriotism would tell you, we have the resources and we can do it too, just that our leaders do not encourage us. Yes, he might have a point, but the bottom line is that we have not so far managed it, not as Nigerians and not in Nigeria by a foreign manufacturer either. And it is obvious that the so called leaders would not support such schemes because they either got to power in the first place either through the butt of the guns or election riggings, supported by the docile attitudes of the complaining masses. The “leaders will not support such scheme because that is not their aim, which is to embezzle, impoverish and stem growth of developments.
Going back to people who knew oppression and rejected the farce, some of us would also remember the Philippines’ experience with Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, chased out by people’s power in 1986. Ceausescu of Romania oppressed his people for so long, he was removed by the same people who finally rejected the aberrations. What about the Berlin wall brought down by people’s power? The people of Thailand used people’s power to topple an illegitimate government rigged into power. There are so many examples around the world, mention of all will would warrant writing volumes of books in itself. So with all the examples mentioned above, does that mean that Nigerians did not know those events took place? To add a little bit of humor, you need to have light in the first place to be able to watch TV. Having a TV in itself does not guarantee access to CNN, as someone who has not even fed well cannot even subscribe to a cable TV. On the other hand, where there is access to cable TV, what do most watch? Soaps from Mexico, MTV and Premier league, as the Nigerian league is dead, and extinct like the dinosaur or the dodo. So what happened in those places as far as Nigerians are concerned were things that could never happen in Nigeria. How pathetic? Yet, this entity called Nigeria is a place where any Nigerian’s life could be snuffed out at any moment for factors that are avoidable, with due care and attention. Factors like bad roads which have claimed so many lives in the country. I guess if Nigerians would be honest with themselves, I guess almost every household or family must have at one time or the other experienced the grief that road accidents caused in the country. Reasons, not farfetched. We all seem to know where the money meant to make sure the kinds of deaths unfix roads cause end up. A road and transport minister and his cohorts’ pockets, and the people pay for it by grieving for loved ones, who have either being maimed, or lost to accidents as a result of vehicle accidents, triggered by unfix roads and corruption of the criminals in charge of making sure the infrastructure is in top shape. So far I do not think anyone or organizations in Nigeria have tried to quantify the devastating effects deaths by road accidents have brought on families in the country as a result of mindless looting of funds meant for making sure those roads are meant to be plied by human beings and not animals. When the bread winner of a family dies carelessly like this, the family is destroyed. It could mean the end of the education for most members of that family, some female member may resort into prostitution so the family can survive. This is just one example of what mindless nation looting brought about by election rigging can cause. IMPLICIT DEVASTATING GENOCIDE?????
The odds stacked against an average Nigerian are so numerous like inadequate or none existent health care facilities, armed robberies, careless death in the hands of the security agents, i.e. the police who are meant to protect the people in the first place. It is called accidental discharge. The accidental discharge has happened so many times that nothing has been done about it. Talking about people’s power and the ability of the masses to register their disapproval of illegalities, to those of us who have access to world media, the Greeks (teenagers mainly) are currently letting the government of their country know that there is no place for accidental discharge a la Nigeria, in their country, it was supposed to be the first time it has happened, and the Greeks are determined it never happened again. To those who are reading this and did not know, the Greek police claimed he killed a Greek teenager accidentally, but the Greek youth didn’t think so, rather they thought it was deliberate, someone has to pay for this. The way it is going, it would be a surprise if the Greek government is not forced to resign over this and other matters for which the masses have not been happy with overtime. Yet, and Okada rider was asked to open his mouth by a naval officer so that he could pump some bullets into it for scratching his “beloved car”, yes in Nigeria. Nothing happened, female get horse whipped for not clearing of the roads because “security agents/navy or whatever wanted to pass. Wetin Happen? Noise and noise only. Just because the victim is the daughter of a highly connected person. (Vagabonds in Power). I bet it won’t be the last time it will happen in Nigeria in as much as the masses have decided to play the ostrich.
With all the odds and factors stacked against an average Nigerian mentioned in this document, someone still want them to believe they are the happiest people on earth, which have been taken out of context in Nigeria. How can you be the happiest people on earth when your life can be snuffed out any minute, by lack of security, bad roads, bad or no health care systems, hunger and malnutrition, as a result of unemployment? Worst of all, Nigerians votes amount to nothing. I wonder why people even bother to vote at times, in the knowledge that the result would be written out for them anyway. Where there is a protest, the judiciary or the tribunal would be compromised or out rightly bought. The square peg would eventually be put in a round hole, and the vicious cycle would continue. The happiest people on earth would recoil in the shells, sit on the fence, leave the rest to God and get on with their miserable lives of penury, deprivation, poverty and bleak future.
Which is why I wondered all these while, like mind people like me do not really quite understand Nigeria and the Nigerian people, for how can people or a nation put up with so much for so long? Perhaps, the choice the Nigerian people have chosen, to take it and bear it on the chin is a character trait our so called leaders have identified, and decided to take for granted and exploit to the maximum. “Those lots would do nothing if we rig elections, steal their money, made sure they have no access to basic human needs. They would just make little noise for one or two days, give their leaders some peanuts, and their resolve to protest is defeated.” Yes, I believe this is how it has been all these while, and will continue so, until the day the people of Nigeria understand what is people’s power, like in those countries mentioned in this write up. Today, we have left the fights to Atiku Abubakar, Muhammad Buhari, and others like them, yet these people do not really live the lives of penury and want an average poor Nigeria lives on daily basis. We left the fight to them, they have lost. Their losses unbeknown to us Nigerians are our losses. They have lost because they do not have the support of the masses, do not have the support of one of the supposedly strong organizations in the country, the Labor Congress for instance. They lost because they do not have the support of the Nigerian Students, who would rather engage in acts of cultism where they maim and kill fellow students, when their counterparts in other clime are busy carrying out one research or the other, and seeking to better themselves and their countries. The Nigerian students would tell you how Babangida had broken the back of the Students’ organizations, and as a result re-grouping and re-organization is a word that have disappeared from their dictionary all together. Yet these group, that is the students are the ones whose future are being toyed with by the mindless election riggings, the underdevelopments and injustices these thieves called leaders perpetrate on daily basis. These students are the ones facing a future of unemployment, as most organizations in which they could have secured a job/career have either been run down as a result of corruption, which were as a result of putting square pegs in round holes in the name of party memberships and election riggings. These lots, the students, probably do not realize the gravity of the evils election rigging and injustice pose to their existence and future, which is very bleak compared to their peers in other progressive countries.
For as long as we Nigerians choose to sit on the fence and let the evils continue, we will be left behind in the dark ages, where we currently are right now. Why won’t people fight for their rights? It does not have to a violent fight. There are so many ways it can be achieved. As evident by Mathama Ghandi’s struggle for independence in India, peaceful civil disobedience does work. Unfortunately, in a place like Nigeria where they can barely sustain a strike for 3 days before calling it off, any kind of struggle against oppression would not succeed, and this our “leaders” know. Often, Nigerians mistake fighting for one’s right as suicidal because they could die in the process, forgetting the philosophy that “anyone who wants to hang on to life at all cost at the expense of his freedom, liberty and justice deserves neither sympathy, justice, liberty and freedom.” The fear of death is the reason why our people have refused to stand up, be counted and fight for what is rightfully theirs’. Isn’t it amazing that these same people who refused to fight for their rights at home because they do not want to die, are willing to risk their lives, by heading towards Europe, by roads through the harsh realities of the deserts, crocodile infested waters which they have to swim in so that they get to Europe, or the possibility of hypothermia by swimming the sub zero temperature of the European waters? Many have died, taking the risks. Just to escape from the deprivations at home, by embarking on these treacherous routes. Then when they get to Europe they are faced with even worse situation than they left behind at home. Isn’t it better to confront the oppressors at home at the risks of death, than to embark on an escape route to Europe by treacherous routes, at the risk of even more certain death or psychological damage, which some of those who take this route suffer afterwards?
Finally, I would like to round up by reminding our people that you would only be treated the way you allow other people to treat you. For as long as we keep overlooking the evil that is election riggings, we shall continue not to have lights, comprehensive health care, good education, and bright future for our students. We will continue to die as a result of road accidents brought about by bad highways. Is there genocide going on in Nigeria? Yes, if the translation is correct, i.e. race killings. There so many ways to perpetrate genocide, not just through the strikes if machetes, bullets and gas chambers. The aim of genocide is to kill people or a race. The chosen method to achieve it is another thing. The chosen method in Nigeria is hunger, oppression, deprivation, election rigging and stealing of people’s wealth. How many Nigerians have died as a result of these so called “leaders” misrules and stealing? So people, let us just sit back and think. We do not have to remain passive or docile in the face of injustice. Leaving the struggles or the fights to the Femi Falanas, Atikus, Buharis and co. will not go very far, and will not have the kind of impacts that their actions require, for as long as we continue not to support them with our siddon look attitudes. Leaving it to our so called tribunals, judicial systems, EFCC etc are big mistakes, in as much as they prefer to remain corrupt, and keep perverting the course of justice. As for the police, it is a matter for another day, for those lots are a disgrace to the uniform they put on, and the profession itself. No need to mention them at all because they are one of the instruments of rigging, and their families and themselves suffer the side effects of the riggings they helped to carry out all the same. The police should be arresting election fraudsters and not supporting them. But this is hardly any surprise because in the Nigeria the opposite of what they say is what they do. Look at the so called “I pledge to Nigeria my country.” We are doing the opposite of what the pledge says. We also do the opposite of what we swear to on assumption of office. The security agents swore to protect Nigerians, they do the opposite by harassing and killing them. Lecturers that are supposed to help students to become brighter do the opposite by killing their brains, and corrupt the female ones. In the face of this, may be we should turn all those pledge and swearing in ceremony the other way round considering the fact we will do the opposite. For instance, “I pledge to Nigeria my country to be disloyal, dishonest and unfaithful…..” Then we do the opposite. Incredible, I am almost thinking that our brains are upside down and sit in our stomach. In our stomach because it is all about feedings, eatings, and grabbing. That is why we sell our conscience all the time for a pot of porridge. Are we descendants of Essau by any chance?
The only way forward is the application of people’s power without ethnic prejudices, because the current injustices and deprivation cut across all ethnics in the country. If we can manage to do this, exert our people’s power to rid ourselves of those criminals Wole Soyinka described as killers. The liars and thieves in power, then we can have the sovereign national conference we have been yearning for over the years. We can be rid of the gangsterism/cultisim we mistake for democracy. Only then we can make our corrupt police and judicial systems accountable for all their sins, for most of the time they more than make these riggings possible for these cretins. Then we can have jobs for our people, we would not have to brave the crocodiles, and the wild animals of the central Africa countries, and the North African deserts in order to arrive at further indignities awaiting us in the land of “opportunities” and the European cities paved with “gold”. Long live peoples’ power and hope one day we in Nigeria too will be able to toast and dedicate our victory against deprivation and oppression to those of us who might participate en mass when the time arrives, for surely it will. Why not now?
Olu Kaye writes from Amsterdam, The Netherlands