Naija On My Mind…


Source: http://www.groups.yahoo.com

I am simply at a loss of words or the appropriate adjectives to describe my state of my mind over the past few days, or to be more candid since the Nigerian Presidential elections on the 16th of April. I was massively disappointed at the outcome and its aftermath that for the whole of last week I was in a near state of depression. It was even difficult to focus on my course work or essays, I was just thinking of Nigeria. At a point I started wondering if there was something wrong with me, if I was over-reacting or if I should simply stop following the news coverage about Nigeria – which of course is not possible. Being the typical female, I thought of getting in touch with my feminine side and doing something that lifts the spirits of most women – going on a therapeutic shopping trip to Birmingham city center, but not even that made me feel better. Then I spoke with several friends here in the UK and back home and I found out that indeed I wasn’t the only one feeling that overwhelming sense of frustration and helplessness which I can sufficiently summarize as an admixture of gross disappointment; shock and anger; despair and hopelessness as I shall explain briefly.

It should be pretty obvious where my disappointment stems from. As a supporter of the main opposition candidate General Muhammadu Buhari of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), his loss shattered the dreams and vision many of us envisaged for a new Nigeria. For in General Buhari who had a fervent, populous and massive grassroots support probably comparable to that of Brazil’s former President Lula Da Silva of Brazil; some of us saw in him a man who would combat the cankerworm of corruption, an obstacle to any meaningful development; would free Nigeria from the shackles of the few elite/cabal that have held it to ransom for the past few decades; would restore discipline, law and order to a very disorganized and increasingly undisciplined Nigerian society and would provide the critically needed infrastructure but alas that is not the case. Notwithstanding the allegations of vote rigging, result manipulation, money inducement to vote for the ruling party, it is absolutely incredulous that some people actually voted not for change that Nigerians are in desperate need of, but voted to maintain and perpetuate the status-quo. While it is almost a generally accepted fact that the ruling PDP-led government in the last 12 years of democratic rule has recorded abysmal performance at virtually all tiers of governance such that the Nigerian state is now bedeviled by decaying infrastructure – electricity supply has actually worsened in the past 12 years; rising insecurity – prior to 1999, many Nigerians save those who watch blockbuster American movies were not familiar with the terms kidnapping or bomb attacks but these are now almost regular features of Nigerian life; soaring unemployment levels – any recruitment exercise attracts hundreds of thousands of applicants – in this case, I can vividly recall sometime last year, 68 vacancies were posted for the Federal Capital Territory Administration, yet more than one million people applied for these 68 vacancies!!! It is simply incredible that people decided to forfeit this momentous opportunity for change from the status-quo based on the naïve assumption that they “voted for individuals and not parties”. Ha! Pray, did any of the candidates run as an independent or on the platform of a political party? As the latter is the case, how do you divorce an individual from the people and whatever his party stands for?

From this, the feeling of shock and anger took over – I still cannot distinguish one from the other at this point because they seem intertwined. As the results of the Presidential elections were announced state by state, it became increasingly clear that where people voted and the votes actually counted, people did so for the most part based on religious, regional and ethnic sentiments. The incumbent President Jonathan was overwhelmingly voted in the mainly Christian-South while his main rival Buhari was overwhelmingly voted in the mainly Muslim-North. Once more, all allegations of rigging and manipulation set aside, in the end Jonathan polled in more votes. However the shock/anger stems from not just the realization that people had retreated into their ethno-religious cum regional enclaves but that the elections had decisively split Nigerians into a North/South divide, what many had feared for years. The elections just laid bare the deep-seated cleavages and divisions between Nigerians and this is everywhere – from cyberspace – online news and social media – Facebook and Twitter to normal face to face interactions; the print media and even government offices. All of a sudden it has become an Us vs. Them scenario with one side jubilating over and celebrating its “triumph” over the other and so many cyber warriors on both sides attacking one another. Infact, in various online Nigerian forums, you have to take a side and to be very candid, the Goodluck Jonathan army is more vociferous, vocal and aggressive because– if you criticize or express any form of displeasure against President Goodluck, you are regarded as an enemy, forgetting that we CONSTITUTIONALLY operate a MULTI-PARTY DEMOCRACY where such dissent whether from individuals, groups or media is actually healthy for the whole system otherwise the steady descent towards fascism becomes inevitable.

The second part of my shock/anger was that as if all these things were not bad, depressing or infuriating enough came the eruption of unrest in various parts of the North – Buhari’s “stronghold”. What started off as a “protest” quickly became violent and took a deadly religious dimension with innocent lives tragically wasted away particularly of Youth Corps members dutifully serving the Nigerian state. So far there are 3 schools of thought explaining the outbreak of violence: (i) the protests started off peacefully against perceived “betrayal” by the Northern elite and eventually became hijacked by miscreants who unleashed attacks on innocent people; (ii) The protesters were all along blood-thirsty criminals with no regard for human life who were just out to spill blood of the innocents, and (iii) The protests were neither religious nor ethnic but were purely political covertly instigated by the ruling PDP to cause mayhem and unrest in the North and provide a distraction. Well, you can choose which school of thought you want to believe but the loss of lives and property is most unfortunate. All these have together made people spew all sorts of unbelievably hateful, vile comments most unbefitting of nationales of a country that is supposedly the most “religious” nation on earth. As Nigeria increasingly becomes dangerously divided, so has the mudslinging with hateful ammo intensified with such vigour all over cyberspace. I know the number of people on my Facebook friends list that I have fought with or argued with because I told them to tone-down their offensive language.

With all this is a feeling of pure hopelessness and despair over the bleak future that lies ahead. I believe even the cyber warriors on both sides, if only they would take a step-back from all the mudslinging and ponder over the tumultuous and uncertain future that lies ahead would feel a sense of dread. The same set of people within the same party that has brought Nigeria practically to its knees has been recycled back in power, yet we somehow expect different results. To be very frank, I am scared –  in all of my 20something years on earth I have never been filled with so much dread such as I am at this point. As the elections have exposed the deep and possibly irreconcilable cleavages and fracture within the Nigerian populace, I have found myself pondering over the future of the Nigerian state with my mind recalling the US National Intelligence Council report in March 2005 that Nigeria could collapse in a few years. The  persistent call for division of Nigeria by the separatists and irredentists particularly on the internet is not helping matters either. The whole atmosphere is tense, charged and thick with flammable haze of anger, suspicion, fear, uncertainty and distrust that one spark will set of an explosion of such magnitude never seen before. John Campbell warned in his book Dancing on the Brink that these elections could make or mar Nigeria’s future as a nation-state or whether it would collapse but he was dismissed by the Media and policy-makers as a harbinger of bad news or even the grim-reaper of whatever fractious peace we have.

At this point, it has reached such a stage that practically everyone in Nigeria is waiting for a miracle – from the teeming, almost fanatic legion of President Goodluck’s most ardent supporters who expect him to miraculously divorce himself from the PDP cabal, capones and godfathers and perform well; the disillusioned opposition who with their lack of an organized party structure are still relying on a miracle to sweep the just concluded gubernatorial polls or the Nigerian masses having for long been disillusioned with the Nigerian state and despite selling their franchise in some cases for as little as N500 (about $3) are as always hoping and praying for a miracle out of misery and destitution. Well, coming from this “religiously” charged environment myself, at this point I will also assume the same fatalistic position, pray for a miracle and hope that President Goodluck Jonathan performs beyond expectations and by so doing, his good luck would spread around and heal this deep fracture within the Nigerian polity and society, otherwise it will be bad luck to Nigeria in all ramifications.

In the meantime, I hope Nigerians; particularly the cyber warriors will bear these wise and timeless words in mind:

“So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth”

 – Baha’u’llah 1817 – 1892

“Unity without verity is no better than conspiracy”

– JohnTrapp 1601-1669

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9 thoughts on “Naija On My Mind…

  1. This has actually echoed the sentiments of many nigerian youths who worked relentlessly to actualise the dream of a new nigeria. Perhaps, to free it from the shackles of greedy and selfish leadership. It is rather unfortunate that the elements of true opposition have been frustrated. We will never relent until there is a change in the status quo

    • Thanks for your comment Abdul. It is rather unfortunate what Nigeria and especially our leaders have turned to. Like you rightly noted, the elements of true opposition have been frustrated. My fear right now is that people might become more indifferent towards participating in a constructive manner, or where they do decide to participate, it is in an aggressive and extreme manner. That is dangerous

  2. Zainab, I must say Its very depressing but “we” saw it coming. I’m a Buhari fan too but you have to admit that CPC were not really organised. Alot of hanky-panky was going on in CPC at the state level. Buhari even failed to campaign in some parts of the country and some of the CPC followers made the party into an ethnic and religious movement. I believe this factors alone is enough to cost CPC the elections.

    • Definitely the CPC was disorganized in so many respects. Look at the gubernatorial elections in Kano and Katsina where they kept changing their candidates up until a few days to the elections. That did major damage to them. And like you said, the failure to campaign in some parts of the country as well as the religious coloration given to it were also major factors.

  3. zainab! my sentiment here is who are the people we refers to as miscreants? in 1979 when shagari was re-elected same off rising happen in the southwestern nigerian alot northeners where kill including youth co menbers, the head line of punch news paper at then was’ angry youth protesting election result’. same issue during the popular’OPC’ killng of innocent souls, whrere they address as ‘miscreant’? the abiola femours june 12 issue of 1993, who got most of his vote from the northan part nigeria, i am not surporting what happen, but then nigerians should always look at issuess positively. like abdull rigthly said ‘we will never relent untill there is a change in the status quo’.

  4. Just like I always say, this is so inspiring. You write as if you travel deep down into the heart of every patriotic Nigerian. Yes, cpc is disorganised. But that still wasn’t the reason why Buhari couldn’t make it to Aso rock. Even if cpc was the most organised party during the election, it still would hardly make it because of the faithless northern leaders who are selfish in everything they do. It’s true, Buhari is credible but they won’t let him get to the top cos they know their hands are covered in blood which he would easily identify and question about. The only way out now is prayers. And yes, like most of the southerners say, am not from the south but ofcourse am not supporting a party, am supporting the candidate. If Buhari wasn’t under the platform of cpc no one would have voted for it. Aha lastly I think you should follow me too so you can see my blog posts too.

  5. Weldone zainab and please take glace on this piece by Emeka Enechi

    ALMAJIRI OR YOUTH CORPERS: WHO SERVED NIGERIA BET … TER? – Deadly truth Speaks

    by Emeka Enechi on Wednesday, 27 April 2011 at 11:17

    Gadafi called them ‘miscreant s’. The U.N. called them Libyan rebels. President Jonathan called the Nigerian version ‘miscreant s’. I called them Rebels without a cause. Everybody else calls them Almajiri. If your ballots are stolen, and the Police and Courts do nothing, it is legitimate to go violent – like in Libya. NATO is supporting the Libyan miscreants bombing shit out of those that stole their wealth. In Nigeria, we vote for our thieves, our heroes.

    Democracie s are not won by words but by the blood of martyrs and innocents, because autocrats NEVER give up power easily – the English Civil Wars, French Revolution , American War of Independen ce – blood, blood, blood – and autocrats always call rebels “miscreant s”. In Africa blood still flows. In Kenya 1000 died when Mwai Kibaki tried to cheat Raila Odinga. South Africa, Mozambique , Angola – their paths to democracy all soaked in blood.

    Few countries got independen ce like Nigeria on a platter of Gold. But soon the Gold tarnished and the blood began –Operation Wetie in wild west, Coups, Igbo genocide in the North and Biafra, all because 1964 elections were rigged. In our present Democracy hundreds have died – Ekiti, Ondo, Uyo, Ebonyi? In Jos, they rigged a local Government Election on 28th November 2008. The Almajiri began burning and killing. They fought the police with machetes. The police shot over 400 of them. A cold kind of heroism.

    With the Presidenti al elections the North exploded. The miscreant Almajiri were killing again. They were cursed for “irrationa l” violence but no one asked why the youth corpers were targeted? I want to change that debate, by asking – the Almajiri and the Youth Corpers, whose actions served Nigerian democracy best?

    The Almajiri, uneducated in Western education but schooled in Islamic education, did something no army of internet warriors could dare. There is an internet group dreaming digital dreams of revolution . The Almajiri did not dream. They acted – with their own electoral revolution . They were the only people, it seems, that understood that defending their vote was a do or die battle and that those who impoverish the people by stealing their wealth deserve to die.

    I decided to ask some Almajiris why the Youth Corpers were attacked. The answer revealed a political sophistica tion many Southerner s lack. The youth corpers were easily bought. In a Nigeria were criminalit y is normal, youth idealism is dead. Corpers were caught thumb printing ballots. In the North, it seemed Southern Corpers clearly showed a preference they were willing to rig against Buhari, because of their Southern support Jonathan.

    There is an even more dangerous dimension. Southern Youth Corpers are sent to the North without any orientatio n to explain the history and values of the place. They come with poor images of Northerner s as primitive, dirty, cattle rearers, smelly bunch of megads, etc. The condescens ion is terrible and the Northerner s know it. I have always wondered about the corper whose facebook post is now popular. “This CPC people .. “ it said. In that statement the contempt was clear. SOUTHERN YOUTH CORPERS WERE SERIOUSLY ANTI-CPC. And they did not hide it.

    Southern Youth Corpers can be very visible and disliked in the Muslim Far North for their disregard of and misconcept ions of Islam. Southern women youth corpers gallivant about, feeling superior, totally ignorant they are causing offence in manners and clothing and seen as easy whores. They openly show disgust at “smelly” Almajiri children. Just reading the posts of Southerner s in Facebook reveal this. The ignorance about Islam; about the fact the Almajiri religious training system is teaching young people respect and kindness to the poor through a rigorous experience of begging, but they also learn Islamic political consciousn ess. The Southerner s also lack a knowledge of the history of the North. The North had City States and empires in the Sahel and trade routes with the Arabs as far back as the 14th Century, long before Portuguese Sailors met Southern primitives at the Atlantic Coast.

    It is these pent up anger against what many Muslim Far Northerner s see as contemptuo us youth corpers, the resistance to CPC whilst supporting PDP rigging, the rumours that many accepted quick money, made the Youth Corpers partisan in the territory of the “enemy” but they looked down on the”enemy”and thought he could do nothing being so primitive, uneducated , stupid, moo moo, etc. Yes the Corpers were not all exactly”innocent” . Stories spread of the money that some took to betray democracy. It was said that in one State, the Governor gave each N30k to thumbprint – and such incidents soiled the names of the innocent Youth Corpers.

    But Southerner s just saw the death of Youth Corpers. Nobody saw the death of Almajiris – their mothers, somewhere, are crying too. They were defending our democratic rights. Through the night in Bauchi, they battled with machetes against police with guns. Many died fighting for their hero – “Sai Gaskiya” – the man of truth. They struck at those they believed were the agents of the Ruling PDP who had given them no education, no health, no future. They attacked their Emirs, whom they heard were bribed; the Emirs that oppressed them with false interpreta tions of Islam. They attacked the PDP stalwarts, their agents and the Youth Corpers that sold out. Then the real Miscreants took over to kill and loot.

    I thought about the Almajiri and the Southerner s that condemned them. I thought of the day I travelled with a Southerner into a Muslim area and left the car and doors wide open with my computer in the back. The Southerner was shocked. Lock the car she shouted. Look at all those boys, they will steal the computer bag. I smiled and tried to explain to her Southern mind, full of armed robbers and kidnappers , that my computer was as safe as houses. Those dirty boys will protect my bag with their lives.

    It seems that Southerner s do not really understand Northern concepts of honour and honesty. The Northern Muslim, can kill, yes kill, when his sense of honesty and honour is breached. Arabs have the same sense of blood honour. But what fascinated me most in the choices of the Southerner s and the Almajiri, was that given a party of known thieves and two honest men, the Southerner s chose the party of thieves whilst the Almajiri were willing to fight and die for two honest men – profound.

    It would seem that the Almajiri are no fools. They targeted everything that represente d their oppression . They knew that Jonathan was part of that Ruling PDP unlike Southerner s who somehow think they voted for Jonathan (a good man) but not PDP (an evil party). What delusion. The Almajiri are far more politicall y astute. They know we need honesty and truth at the top to save our country – and were prepared to die for it.

    As I watched the efforts made during this Governorsh ip polls to be transparen t, it occurred to me that the sanity was because of the action of Almajiri rebels. In the tally of the bloody cost of democracy, that was a small price to pay to clean up our democracy.

    Nobody planned the Almajiri revolt. They are educated in Islam and know how to use mobile phones. Buhari had no idea. His vehicles were smashed in the mayhem because his convoy did not know of the uprising. Yet our PDP Ruling Oligarchy chose to behave like all autocrats. It was their rigging and bribery that caused the violence, yet they are using the highly compromise d media to put the blame on Buhari. But who are to blame? Those that put the Youth Corpers in harm’s way and those who rigged.

    I agree that a statue should be erected for Youth Corpers who honestly served democracy? But I also think of the hundreds of Almajiri who died in Jos, Bauchi, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano. And inside me I formed a second statue, in memory of the Almajiri dead, of an Almajiri with a machete held high. And at the base an epitaph:

    “I am President Jonathan’s Miscreant
    No deadlier than his rascals that rant
    My blood has flowered our course
    For I am no rebel without a cause”

    I could be a Northerner . I could be a Southerner . The Truth has no tribe or religion. The Truth is Neutral. The Truth is Deadly. But the Truth shall set us free.

  6. You really make it appear really easy with your presentation but I to find this matter to be actually something that I believe I might by no means understand. It sort of feels too complex and extremely large for me. I’m taking a look ahead on your subsequent submit, I’ll try to get the dangle of it!

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