The elections are already here, and yet again nothing has been done to mitigate our fear of the outcomes. The apparition of the post-election violence, as witnessed four years ago, is here again.
Our fears aren’t mitigated and it is not because of the people’s lack of faith in the security agencies now combing major towns and cities across the country in armoured tanks and vans full of men that seem like the cast of a Rambo movie, threatening and harassing motorists. Our biggest fear is the fear of ourselves, of that politically charged neighbour who practises a different religion, of that loudly partisan citizen from a different region or of that political campaigner whose idea of change is the victory of members of his ethnic group, all indoctrinated in different measures by their political affiliations. Our fault-lines aren’t blurred as assumed, especially by the most optimistic analysts of the 2015 election; they only await manipulation of ethnic, religious, regional and political events to be visible and activated.
As I write this, a lot of potential voters have already been disenfranchised by this fear of ourselves; the Igbo, threatened by the apparitions already lurking around their houses and shops have been moving to “safe zones”, the East, packed in Chisco and ABC buses; members and supporters of a party unpopular in their communities have been sending their families to “safe zones”, with some even going as far as London and New York. And, thus, it’s ironic that a people previously more interested in “change” have realised that “safety” is the basic necessity of our existence in this polarised space.
We’ve built a dangerous country! Why would any party’s stalwart or supporter send his/her family to “safe zones” for fear of being assaulted or killed by a band of political zealots who won’t accept a defeat in an election that doesn’t assure any contender of a victory? While the key actors in the presidential elections, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and General Muhammadu Buhari, meet in posh hotels to sign a Peace Accord, fanatical defence of their ambitions by citizens who can’t even spell “Accord” threatens us all.
This is a democracy, and a Danladi in Daura and an Oscar in Otuoke are just as enfranchised as us to oppose Buhari and Jonathan, respectively, refusing to subscribe to geographic solidarity or sentiments.
No northerner should be harassed for supporting Jonathan, the same way no southerner should be for supporting Buhari. Democracy is a game of interest and convictions, personal or popular, objective or mischievous, and whoever chooses to go against us commits no crime at all. Our vote is our only tool against perceived political dysfunction or oppression. Violence solves nothing; it only destroys a democracy!
And while we tweet about “change” on our social media platforms, analysing the manifestos in grand halls, becoming estranged over expressed political differences, I’ve another fear about the elections. It’s something we all don’t want to hear or, in the case of the politically zealous among us, haven’t really paused to ponder. This fear is the vulnerability of the rural electorate, in forgotten villages. I remember my aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews and nieces, whose PVC is up for the highest bidder, amused in villages with no motorable roads. I remember my friends in the cities, who were “too busy” for voter’s registration or PVC collection. Memories of these deliberate and circumstantial disenfranchisements aggravate my fears of the hours before, and the days after, March 28. May God save us from us!
By Gimba Kakanda
@gimbakakanda on Twitter