By Chimdi Maduagwu
The elections are here at last! There have been speculations on whether or not the elections will take place. Well, as my father would say, “Providence takes care of fools.” If I am one of the fools that populate the entire universe, then I am grateful to providence. If I am not, then … I am still grateful to providence for helping all of us take care of some of us, the very difficult amongst us. For this reason I say, thanks providence.
A fool is generally a person of low intelligence or one who is incapable of tame judgment. Often times, we refer to some people derogatorily as fools and some times, too, we go on to out rightly insult others by branding them fools. In such a case the French views of “the idiot or the imbecile” would come to mind.
Nigeria has a date with March 28, 2015, that being a date itself. The day has been long awaited and now that we can behold it face to face and eyeball to eyeball, it is important for us to domesticate and subdue that day to our advantage, so that when we shall discuss that date in the future, we will do so with a sense of pride. Now how do we do this? Remember Providence and the Fool. However, if the fool persists in his folly, the patience of Providence may be on trial.
First, we must congratulate ourselves for having come thus far, most times, protected by providence. We have witnessed, perhaps for the first time, a very animated campaign by the political parties, especially the two major parties. During the campaigns, a lot happened; both positive and negative. Groups and individuals were boldly challenged by opponents on what were considered important personal and national issues. Some of the issues were addressed and some are still waiting to be treated. I believe that the electorate has enough information to consider in making the choice of who to vote. Party members, we salute you for baring it all. The electorate is very grateful to you.
Having done this, I go to the second point. Fellow voters! May I have your ears. We have a date with destiny. It is up to us to grab our own destiny and pilot it to our desired destination. As each person proceeds to perform this important civic responsibility on Saturday March 28, 2015, there is need to be bold, careful, vigilant and wise. Most of all, please let us be obedient, in other words, law-abiding. Messages and jingles have challenged, insulted, assaulted, soothed and comforted us in varying degrees. We have been able to make and unmake our minds concerning parties and individuals; we have even engaged our friends and colleagues in arguments and have sometimes neared boiling points; we have been angered by statements and dispositions and several other developments during the campaigns; now it is all over. The March 28 summary act draws the curtain. We must cast our votes. Everybody, do come out and vote. The card in our hands is like a missile, we must release it after we have slotted in the potent weapon, which is the ballot paper.
Next, there are conflicting
instructions on what to do after casting our ballots. While some say we stay and wait until the ballots are counted and results released; others, including the law enforcement agencies say we should go after casting our ballot. I have to advise; by the standard of common sense, please, fellow Nigerians, let us go after casting our votes. It is constitutional; it is safe; it is decent to do so. Although it is not unconstitutional to stay back after, but in order to avoid getting into mischief, home is the best place to be next. When that is the case, we will not get into the temptation of arguments with oppositions and possible blow outs.
President Goodluck Jonathan has consistently said that his ambition or that of any other politician is not worth the blood of any Nigerian. That is one of the greatest statements I have ever heard in my lifetime as a Nigerian. For this reason, it is my sincere submission that as much as possible we try to reciprocate by not making our “blood” available for politicians. There will be party representatives at the polling stations and their presence is enough to protect the interest of the parties.
Maintenance of peace is desirable. It will be our gain to stay out of trouble. The entire world is focused on us. The United Nations, the European Union, and quite recently, the President of the United States of American, have all expressed deep concern over the elections in our country. All their comments and actions and reactions are informed by a suspicion that things may not go well. They have probably watched the fierce electioneering campaigns and observed both the desperation and bitterness of our politicians and eventually deduced a possible crisis. We can disappoint them by consciously saying no to everything that is capable of erupting chaos, confusion or mayhem during and immediately after the elections.
The elections are like a serious game. Winners and losers must emerge. Contestants should bear this in mind and brace up with the truth about their endeavours. Mr. President has assured all of us that he will accept the verdict of the INEC. Although we have not obtained the same assurance from the other parties but I believe that the leaders of those parties are honourable and are likely to do so too. For instance Gen. Mohammadu Buhari has lost elections before and despite pockets of post-election riots and destruction, the party that was declared winner eventually set up the government. This time, because of the crucial nature of the elections; because the elections are capable of strengthening or destroying our hard earned democracy, we need concrete assurance that verdicts must be respected and claims and objections should be constitutionally handled.
Supporters, know you not (let me sound like an evangelist) that contestants don’t get into physical combat? If that is the case, why then should you cry more than the bereaved? Please let us behave like them. Since contestants are not likely to be present after voting to monitor INEC official, why should supporters do so?
Since contestants are not likely to be violent after they lose, why should supporters do so? Anything that the contestants are likely to avoid, by all means, supporters also avoid. Let us not fight for any of them. Need I remind everyone that when they get into office, everything will “change.” Promises will change, acquaintances will change, language will change and even total disposition will change.
Now, before I conclude, fellow Nigerians, join me to obtain an assurance from all contestants, especially the leaders of the major political parties that if anyone loses, he should show magnanimity and within 24 hours of the declaration of the results make his pronouncement of acceptance of the verdict and congratulate the winner. He should also go ahead to discourage violence of any kind in his favour. If the contestant is vocal and sincere about post-election peace, there will be peace indeed. I think asking for this is not asking for too much. Long live Federal Republic of Nigeria.