By Debbie Olujobi

Manipulation is a trait of humanity that is despicable; the compulsion we all seem to have to do whatever it takes to bend people and twist situations and circumstances to our favour.

I sit here under what feels like house arrest and wonder what the future holds for the Nigerian nation! in the past one week, I have had to turn and go back home on three separate occasions, three days out of five, because the roads were taken over by the mayhem of the coming elections. On day one, a Monday, after close to three hours in which I covered about 2 kilometres at the bottom of 3rd mainland bridge, my very road wise driver took a detour that had undulating bumps and valleys to get us on on the other side of the bridge.

The sight that embraced us was a retinue of a dozen or more coaster buses filled with very armed men, driving fast and furiously regardless of the fact that they were facing on coming traffic. The wisdom of my decision to call it a day was validated as the said men in the buses proceeded to unleash mayhem on innocents as they began a protest that lasted hours. I watched the news from the safety of my sofa and wondered who was pulling the strings.

I am getting increasingly exasperated by the sheer gullibility or stupidity of the down trodden who are willing to be manipulated by a minority political and morally bankrupt class of fat cats who don’t care who lives or dies! When are we going to get it that there is a them and the rest of us are just extras?

If I were to describe the situation in Nigeria as of this pre-election period, I would say it was a cliff hanger; it’s tense and dangerous! The collection of voter cards was an issue not long ago but I am seriously wondering if most of us will be able to use it if the violence being threatened is unleashed come March 28th.

Between the hate speeches, accusations, counter accusations, slander and sometimes even crazy behaviour by the lead actors in this tragic episode in Nigeria’s history, most of us have lost hope or confidence in the candidates that say one thing and do the opposite. It is highly improbable that those who promise progress in exchange for our votes are not responsible for the violence that have become a permanent feature of their campaigns.

A couple of weeks ago, I was unfortunate enough to get caught in a convoy of one of the leading parties, they were on their way to the National Stadium and I was petrified to say the least. After the colourful and branded Party buses had passed, another set of open-top lorries and pickups surrounded us, they were full of openly armed men who very aggressive and loud. That experience rattled other road users and I wasn’t surprised to hear that people were attacked and robbed later on in the day.

What I found most annoying was that the two leading parties chose the same day and the same route, to campaign knowing their supporters would clash. At the end of that day, there were casualties on both sides, the extras were wasted while no harm came to any of the contestants and their cronies.

There are rumours that the non-violence pledges signed are bogus and both parties plan to go to dastardly lengths to assure their victory and any right thinking Nigerian should reassess the viability of this do or die candidates. It will take Nigerians to destroy Nigeria and I pray to God Almighty that any youth who has decided to be a political thug, any soldier or police man puts the love of country first before they let themselves be used as pawns to destroy our motherland.

The world is watching us teeter on the brink of an abyss and it doesn’t look like a majority of those caught in election fever quite appreciate that life as we all know it may never be the same if we allow the machinations of a minority destroy all we know and hold dear. It has taken the upcoming elections to get a defence of our citizens from terror so I guess thats a plus of some sorts.

That we have had to recruit dogs of war is frightening as our leaders don’t quite comprehend that war dogs are available for hire by whoever is willing to pay. The politics of the day runs on the life blood of money, votes and influence are for sale and the power hungry are buying. What those who are willing to sell forget is that they will discover, like Esau, that a birthright once sold cannot be regained.

So here I am, here we go again, on a political carousel where the same people have stayed on the horses for decades and refuse to get off. The country has not reaped the benefits of all its resources yet the plundering continues while the masses continue to suffer. The tragedy is not the corruption of the politicians, that’s truly sad but it’s not really a tragedy.

The real tragedy is the obvious fact that the masses who hold the power to demand change wont; they are quite content to eat the scraps thrown at them at election times and cause mayhem. For money, they willingly risk loosing life and limb while the politicians play their games and rob us of the wealth that is rightfully ours.

The religious leaders who should at least have a moral compass have become court jesters as they struggle for relevance and wealth at the expense of their followers! I envy the Arab states and their unity of purpose, they got rid of despots like Mubarak, all his stolen money didn’t help him, they took back their power.

They may be struggling to find their feet but they stood up and collectively rejected despotism and I have a feeling they will eventually get to their political and economic promised land. They knew and accepted what Nigerians won’t; in a culture of corruption and authoritarianism there is always a them and there are the rest of us. We must fight to preserve Nigeria for the rest of us.



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