The Insidious Art of Election Postponements

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For an election that seems like the funeral rite of the incumbent central government, if you’re true to yourself and have gauged the agitation for its replacements and its own desperate ploys to regain its squandered goodwill, it doesn’t take much to understand there’s indeed a storm ahead. This is for the fact that no political desperado would ever let go of power and go down without a rough fight, without attempts to set the whole house on fire – for all contending parties to lose. So, we must brace up for more intrigues from this falling Presidency.

While we chew the defence of the election postponement by Jega-led INEC, with the Presidency exonerating itself, basic psychology shows that postponement of the February 14 elections was to achieve a certain aim – to diffuse the momentum of these awakened change agents blurring the fault-lines of regional, religious and ethnic animosities across the country.

The possibility of diffusing the momentum of this initially undermined force of the opposition party, the APC, is a mission the PDP-led government hasn’t exactly studied in their nonstop propagandas and character-assassinating stunts designed to make their political bogeyman, retired Major-General Muhammmadu Buhari, first unlikable and then unelectable. The impossibility, however, of dismissing the merger of a seeming northern party, the CPC, and the ACN which dominated the south-west, to form this now formidable APC, as a bed for the Christian, the Muslim, the northern, the south-western, the Hausa-Fulani or the Yoruba, is no longer in doubt. The rebranded Buhari isn’t that locally marketed, perishable brand of yesterday, for, with this alliance Nigeria’s most educated region, the Yoruba race, he’s now a foreign commodity on whom are the eyes of the international community no longer sympathetic to a President described as “utter failure” by the Economist. And, in fear, the ruling party had employed all in its arsenals to embarrass him, saga after saga, and scandal by scandal: missing certificates, to portray him as certificate-forging fraud; fabricated hate speeches, to portray him as unapologetic bigot; continuously referenced old age, to portray him as senile; sensationalising of his policies as a military Head of State, also to portray him as a potential dictator!

But, while election postponement – which indeed affected voters like a friend overseas who had proposed to return to Nigeria this February and who may not be able to secure another leave anytime soon, because his leave ends before the next Election Day – is the last resort of Jonathan’s big-spending campaign organisation, a reality that hasn’t been factored out is: can the rage of citizens taken for a long ride and for granted in these five years of misrule and mismanagement be diffused in six weeks? Can a postponement diffuse the agony of the people of northeast Nigeria, and of especially those whose children and wards are still in the “invisible” camps of the Boko Haram? Can a postponement make a people lose their memory of a Commander-in-Chief boldly saying “I don’t give a damn!” in response to a question of national concern and interest?

The insecurity being referenced now as a reason for postponing the election is a puzzle that aspiring President Buhari attempted to solve in his interview with Al Jazeera. He asked, “If the same military cannot secure 14 local governorates out of 774 in six years, how can they be sure they can secure those 14 in six weeks?” And Buhari has every reason to withhold trust in his former institution, the Nigeria Army, which, even in the heat of his certificate saga, did not come to his defence, as his political molesters seemed to have colluded with the them in ridiculing the old man’s claim that copy of his certificates, for which he had sworn an affidavit, is in custody of the Nigeria Army. The military, through some parties, acted in ways that gave away what is an obvious partisanship.

The Army, having also ruled the country, is an old ally of the civilians. In the song “Army Arrangement”, Nigeria’s Afro-beat maestro, Fela Kuti, pans the “padi-padi” syndrome that possesses our power-brokering elite, political and military, for their desperate and insatiable quest for power and money.

The backdrop of that song is the transition to Nigeria’s second republic in 1979, which presented Alhaji Shehu Shagari as the head of a government for which History has no sympathy. It’s almost an accurate lampoon of our ongoing quest for change: there’s a missing oil money, and an election being manipulated by “padi-padi” – cronyism, crony capitalism!

Some of us may think that the tension being experienced now is a decision of just an individual, our President, but he’s just a representative of an avaricious clique who must fight dirty to protect their interests. Fela refers to them as “arrangee masitas” My fear now is, the Nigeria Army, with some of its members now partisan and deferring to the arrangee masitas, can’t afford the backlash of any conspiracy against the people.

2015, to me, is a time-bomb that must be defused with absolute caution, and it’s a period for the Army and all security agencies to convince Nigerians that they exist to uphold the social contract that keeps this country together, by rejecting offers to protect this crony capitalism that forestalls our counterterrorism, reducing them and the country to pitiable wrecks.

Army Arrangement will be suicidal because our soldiers, as it is now, are very tired of fighting and mourning. And any untoward pandering to the ways of their cronies in plainclothes is more trouble for them, from the outraged rioters in the north to the militants now spoiling for a fight in the south. I just hope we get this thing right, and may all understand that Nigeria isn’t their family’s enterprise!

Let them postpone the elections for as many times as possible, what isn’t in doubt is: there are many things that time can’t heal, many things that a postponement can’t change, many things that a billion dollar PR contract can’t redeem, and one of them is the decision of a people standing at a political crossroads. For their only aim is a gateway to a saner nation. May God save us from us!

By Gimba Kakanda

@gimbakakanda on Twitter

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One thought on “The Insidious Art of Election Postponements

  1. Your objectivity (suspect on some occasions, but usually on point) has deserted you totally here. You are free to support whomever you wish but this attempt to deny pretty recent history is atrocious. If you do not know please ask around or do some research and you can easily find out about the period of GMB’s rule. A period that The Economist magazine which you cite referred to as “nasty, brutish but mercifully short”.

    Has the GEJ-led government failed? Perhaps. I’m not a GEJite. When the elections come, let the people decide. I am however appalled by the dishonest and disingenuous whitewashing of the GMB regime and the attempt by some to portray a man whose antecedents, actions and utterances scream ethnic and religious parochialism and jingoism as some kind of saintly, unifying nationalist. Indeed, may God save us from us!

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