By Donu Kogbara
PHOTOGRAPHS and videos depicting Buhari-supporting underage voters in the North have gone viral online and are now part of our electoral iconography.
An outraged fellow Atiku supporter sent me several images of PVC-brandishing pre-pubescent teenagers and primary school-age kids queuing up at Kano polling stations this morning; and I sighed and shook my head, more sad and perplexed than angry or disgusted.
The wide-eyed children looked so innocent – and so cute in their little kaftans; and I’m wondering why a President who not only has a military background but claims to be aggressively fighting corruption is allowing an entire generation of youths to be led astray in his name when he should be instilling discipline and moral values in them.
Generation of youths
I’m sure that some of the underage voters do not yet realise that what they were told to do was illegal and just plain wrong. But they’ll eventually find out that they were used by unscrupulous, democracy-subverting politicians; and they will either lose respect for these elders who instructed them to cheat or feel that any actions endorsed by elders must be OK and worthy of emulation.
When seniors who attract deference give impressionable juniors the impression that Anything Goes, they are encouraging them to become lawless adults and generating serious problems for society. Underage voters come from poor homes.
Meanwhile, most adult criminals in any country come from poor homes. So it is not too fanciful to say that today’s underage voters can easily – especially if they are exposed to toxic influencers – become tomorrow’s kidnappers, rapists, armed robbers and jihadi terrorists.
Long story short: I wish Buhari would live up to the Honest No-Nonsense Disciplinarian reputation he wants us to believe he deserves and condemn those who electorally exploit vulnerable, desperate and potentially dangerous youths on his native turf.
It is about integrity. It is about being a caring father of your people and the nation. It is not about winning at all costs.
He who pays the piper
Underage voter videos are not the only videos that are viralling all over the internet. I’ve just received an in-yer-face rant that was recorded by a frustrated un-named South-South man who wants to know why those who pay the piper are not choosing the tune……and why so many Southern politicians have chosen to have slavish master-houseboy relationships with their Northern colleagues.
I don’t entirely approve of this video because it refers to Northerners as “Abokis”, a derogatory term that doesn’t reflect the fact that many Northern Muslims are smart, kind and genuine friends to compatriots who are neither Northern nor Muslim.
But I must say that I fully identify with the video ranter’s core message, being that it is very strange that the part of the country that produces the oil wealth that sustains the Federation is downtrodden and expected to approach other regions cap in hand. OK, so we Niger Deltans need to humbly admit that we didn’t handle opportunities adeptly when we had a chance to strengthen our region during President Goodluck Jonathan’s tenure.
But though Jonathan had his limitations, he behaved like a perfect gentleman when he was told that he had lost the election in 2015. When push came to shove, Jonathan wasn’t ready to cling to power like a crazed megalomaniac. And it was precisely because he wasn’t pathologically selfish that he didn’t do more for his people. At any rate, I don’t see why Niger Deltans should be treated like despised supplicants by arrogant mandarins from regions that don’t contribute as much as we do to the national kitty.
I’m also absolutely appalled by kow-towing Southern politicians who rarely promote our interests at The Centre and aren’t pushing a restructuring agenda that is clearly in our best interests. Such forelock-tuggers lack self-esteem and should be thoroughly ashamed of their eagerness to oppress/betray their brethren and cause mayhem in their own backyards to please “outsiders”.
I’ve never been 100 per cent loyal to any individual or group or political party because I feel more committed to the welfare of Society as a whole than to the welfare of individuals, groups or parties. I voted UPN when my late father was the NPN Party Chairman in Rivers State because while I adored my father and knew that he was a good man, I believed that UPN would do a better job than NPN.
And, over the years, I have quit supporting various high-ranking government chums because though I personally am on great terms with them and can perhaps collect substantial patronage from them in future, I think that they are harming the wider community.
Some of my friends applaud my “objectivity” and think me brave for not allowing emotions or self-interest to get in the way of principles. But others disagree with what one friend described as my “penchant for treachery” and feel that not doggedly supporting “your own person” forever is terrible, even if he or she is misbehaving massively and especially if he or she has helped you in the past.
I say that almost everyone who has helped me in the past has also received help from me, albeit help that is more subtle than money. So I kinda feel that the goodwill has flowed both ways and that I am not obliged to kiss their rings until I die!!!
But, as far as my critics are concerned, the only type of help that really matters is financial!!!…and one should always stand by – and be a cheerleader for – family and friends, whether they behave well or not. What do Vanguard readers think?