‘If we must pay the ultimate price to freedom from poverty, bad leadership, unproductive set of politicians who have put Nigeria in mess, then, citizens must employ the tactics of Malcolm X when he said in his recorded Autobiography, Understanding the Mind of Malcolm X:  “It’ll be the ballot or it’ll be the bullet.

It’ll be liberty or it’ll be death. And if you’re not ready to pay that price, don’t use the word freedom in your vocabulary”

At least, Nigerians should be grateful to God alone for their survival and for His Mercy, otherwise-if they are to count their losses since the return of democratic rule in 1999 or since independence, am sure, many will accentuate curses on most leaders who have misruled this country and who created faculty of election rigging to thuggery, high handedness in government, corruption, poverty, lawless, visionless and clueless in all aspect of our existence-a muster ready to consume us. Now, Nigeria is 62, and her citizens wallow in anxiety, doubt, dark cloud, poverty and hopelessness. A country whose resources have been badly mismanaged by bad leaders who have milked the collective wealth of the people while living like Emperors. A country where her youths’ potentiality is embodied with ideas and innovation, but abandoned by same set of leaders  whose ancestral fathers ruled this country without foresight except very few of them and they want to continue with blinded ideological short sightlessness . 

History tells us that the lack of political will and directionlessness and political rascality, including corruption was part of the reasons why those young military officers struck. The trace of what happened in the political terrain of 1965 of Alhaji Tafawa Balewa government that created polluted political atmosphere. Is there anything different today? Well, a very big thanks to the late Major Adewale Ademoyega of memory who recorded in his book, ‘Why We Struck, the incidence of 1965 while he warmed seriously the danger that almost consumed Nigeria. And if urgent measures are not taken by political actors, I fear for this country. Ademoyega’s account:

“There was no doubt that 1965 was a year of political gloom throughout Nigeria. Generally, people had been disillusioned and disaffected with the Balewa Government and the rulership of the Balewa/Akintola/Sardauna clique of the NNA. Economic, Social, Educational and Political problems were not solved. Corruption was rife and nepotism was the order of the day. The safety valves of the nation were reposed in such institutions as the courts, the Census Commission, the Electoral commission, the police and finally the Armed forces. But the sanctity of those institutions was being politically assailed, assaulted and dragged in the mud, so that they were fast losing their credibility. It became obvious that the national leadership was nearing its collapse and that the ship of the nation was heading for the rocks. Still, it was drummed into people’s ears by the federal government radio, television and newspapers that certain NPC leaders had said that the NPC would rule Nigeria for the next twenty-five years”

No doubt, the wishes and feelings of the electorate were not taken into consideration.   The October 1965 election into the western house of assembly was decided,once and for all, whether the people of the west endorsed all that sir Abubakar had done for them since 1962 and whether they accepted the rulership of the Akintola. The people were loud and clear in rejecting Akintola and the NNDP at the polls. However, the Akintola Government did publicly interfere with the results of the election. In very many cases AG candidate who held certificates that they were duly elected in their constituencies, later heard their names mentioned as defeated candidates through governmental news media.   Thereupon, the people of Western Region did not appeal to the deaf gods typified by the regional Governor, the law courts and the police. They simply recalled the days of their ancestors when unpopular rulers were removed by the concerted efforts of the people.   It could hardly be overstressed that Western Nigerians were highly sophisticated in politics. Among them, democracy was not an important political idea or practice; it had been the food with which they were nurtured, even from their mothers’ wombs. By November 1965, the people had started to fight the unpopular Akintola Government. They sang war songs and fough on the street. They invented the “wetie” (meaning,”soak him up”) a practice in which a political opponent and his house or property were sprayed with petrol and set ablaze. Somehow,in “wetie”,only the intended victim suffered. By December 1965, there had been a total breakdown of the law and order in Western Nigeria. The lawlessness had gone beyond the control of the mobile (anti-riot) Police and the Akintola Government was generally seen to be tottering to its collapse. The hoodlums took advantage of the situation and started molesting innocent citizens, while they damaged and looted their property”

While we celebrate Nigeria @ 62, we all should be very concern in the very outcome of the 2023 presidential election if it is rigged against the wishes of the citizens. We should be concern about the dog and baboon being soaked in blood as attested by Gen. Muhammadu Buhari during the 2015, warning that if what happened in 2011 repeats itself. Luckily, it didn’t happen.

Nigerian citizens who have been in Egypt, praying and fasting for the Kingdom of God to come should come out massively to cast their ballots, remove fear and have stone heart against blood sucking politicians, who will do anything to remain in power. However, we must avoid the looming danger and allow the votes of the electorates to count. If we must pay the ultimate price to freedom from poverty, bad leadership, unproductive set of politicians who have put Nigeria in mess, then, citizens must employ the tactics of Malcolm X when he said in his recorded Autobiography, Understanding the Mind of Malcolm X:  “It’ll be the ballot or it’ll be the bullet. It’ll be liberty or it’ll be death. And if you’re not ready to pay that price, don’t use the word freedom in your vocabulary”

Orgu, is the Editor-in-Chief, Afrikanwatch Network and a public/social affairs Analyst, wrote from Lagos ([email protected])

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