Now we wait

I was eager to vote, which is why on one day in December 2014, my friend and I woke up at 6:30am to go register for our voter’s cards. We had gone to the registration centre in our neighbourhood and it was crowded, so we thought it would be a good idea to go to another one which was farther away (we live in Lekki and we went to VI to register). At the time I was just too excited to be in the system, it did not occur to me that I would have to vote in the place I had registered.

Fast forward a few months, It’s election day and I am sat at home watching the election process on the television. Not only could I not vote in the polling unit closeby, a vehicular restriction had been imposed so I could not even drive to my polling unit. I was very sad to say the least. I was actually surprised by how much my conscience pricked me. Here I had a chance to make a difference by casting my vote and I was not doing that. I considered walking to my polling unit, but my mother immediately shut down that idea. It would have taken me a few hours to get there, by which time I would have had to vote in an ambulance.

Anyway the votes have been casted and we now await the results. There are about 12 presidential candidates, but the public seems to think there are only two and a half, the half here referring to the only female candidate who is not that well known but who is not entrenched in irrelevancy like the other unknown candidates.

The main candidates are the incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan and three time presidential candidate and one time military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. Goodluck is representing the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) while Buhari is representing All Progressives Congress (APC). This is a mirror image of the elections in 2011 where the same two candidates contested. In the last elections, Jonathan won, something a lot of people have come to regret. APC is the underdog party and people hope that they will bring about a change if elected. PDP has been in power since Nigeria switched to democracy in 1999 and frankly people are sick of them. Not everyone of course, but a significant number of people.

Goodluck Jonathan is rightly seen as incompetent and bumbling, known more for his wife’s faux pas than for any tangible achievements. I believe he is a decent man who should be teaching in a secondary school somewhere, not making decisions on behalf of 170 million people. His handling of the Boko Haram siege has been completely disgraceful. He adopted the “ignore it and it will go away and if it doesn’t oh well what can I do am I God?” approach and only revved the engine in the last six weeks. Election is drawing nigh and suddenly Boko Haram starts getting crushed. For those who were murdered or kidnapped in the past four years, ooops.

My main irritation with him are his comments and the lack of thought that goes into them. I think he is a good man, I really do and in many ways he is the average Nigerian (look ma, no shoes!). But when one becomes the President, one has to be more careful about what one says. It is necessary to be able to inspire confidence in your people and to make them think that things will be okay. Felix can say silly things when he is hanging out with his friends at the beer parlour, but the president cannot go on national television and proclaim that Boko Haram is our family. Nope. In his 7th presidential media chat, he dropped a lot of gems that had me clutching my head wondering if this man has any media advisers.

When asked about an alleged missing $20 billion, his reply was that if any money was missing America would know.

If anyone steals $50 billion or $20 billion anywhere America will know, they will tell you where it is; it is their money.”

It hurts him when a Boko Haram member is killed because they are Nigerians and he is their president.

Anytime I hear of any one Nigerian dies I feel pained, even if it’s a Boko Haram member, I am their president.”

“I don’t know where they are. There is no confirmation of the location of the schoolgirls, you are a journalist, you know more than me.” When asked where the 200 Chibok girls are.

Over 70% of what they call corruption in Nigeria, is mere common theft. The word corruption is being abused, it’s just mere theft.”

“Even when I’m in church I am monitoring what is happening. Anytime I get reports of an attack somewhere, my face will change immediately, my expression will change. It used to happen every Sunday

In this article, he disputes the claim that Nigeria is poor saying: “If you talk about ownership of private jets, Nigeria will be among the first 10 countries, yet they are saying that Nigeria is among the five poorest countries.

When the Charlie Hebdo attacks happened, Jonathan could not offer his condolences fast enough. But when the town of Baga was obliterated, he stayed mum. It was like it never happened. How can this not make you mad? People are dying in our own backyard and the president is silent, but the same man is condemning attacks overseas. Madness.

Should we talk about his wife? Dame Patience Jonathan, comedian extraordinaire. She is such a lively comical character, it is a shame her talents are being wasted in politics. She needs to enter the Nigerian film industry and team up with Nkem Owoh. Forget Osoufia in London, Mama Peace in Aso Rock will be a hit.

Yeah Goodluck needs to go, but is the alternative any better? In 1983, Muhammadu Buhari took over leadership in a military coup. His reign was characterised by brute force. I was not there during his regime, but apparently it was quite repressive and inhumane. Wole Soyinka wrote a piece on Buhari aptly titled Crimes of Buhari. It is a testament to the state of Nigeria and the people’s frustration with the incumbent that a former dictator is actually being viewed as greener pasture.

At this point, I think people just want a change, they`(we) want Jonathan out. I believe people are more anti-Jonathan than they are pro-Buhari.  APC could have selected Mr. Ibu as its presidential candidate and some people would still vote him over Jonathan.

I do think it is important that people temper their expectations with a bit of reality. People seem to think Buhari is the knight in starched Babariga that Nigeria has been waiting for. Buhari will be elected and with a flash of his dazzling smile our economy will improve, oil prices will go up, the exchange rate will be $5000 to N1, the sun will be jealous of all the electricity we get, Boko Haram will be a thing of the past, everyone will have jobs, insecurity will be over and Nigeria will be utopia and will have to be renamed the Federal Republic of Nirvana.

Slow down.

People say things like “Why will you vote for Jonathan, aren’t you tired of not having steady power supply?” I’m pretty sure epileptic power supply preceded Jonathan and will continue even if Buhari is elected. Let’s not build up unrealistic expectations because we are then inadvertently setting Buhari up to fail. There is no way he will completely turn Nigeria around in four years and when he doesn’t we will start to hate him as well.

We need a change, Buhari happens to be that change now. He is not our saviour, not our Lee Kuan Yew. He is just a change. An APC win will signal a new start in Nigeria, one where PDP is not ruling us. A Nigeria where a presidential tenure is four years, not automatically 8 years regardless of performance. A Nigeria where ineptitude is not rewarded. If Buhari is elected and in four years he proves to be equally as inept, then he should be voted out. No more should we endure and tolerate nonsense.

We await the results. Either way life will go on, in true Nigerian fashion- suffering and smiling.


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