January 15, 2023

Fellow Nigerians, get ready for real chaos

By Dele Sobowale

“Wisdom in people consists in the anticipation of consequences” – Norman Cousins, 1915-1990

In the last Sunday of December, I got published an article on this page titled: ‘What if there is no credible election in 2023?’ Here is the last paragraph of that article as a quick reminder:

“Just as relevant is the issue of security of materials and men. Who will drive into the nation’s most dangerous points without military escorts? And who will be there to receive the materials without armed men to protect them?

“To be candid, I strongly believe INEC is not being honest with us. The 2023 Election might not hold; at least, not as we all want it.”

A regular reader of the column called me and said: “Dele, I wish you are wrong this time; because virtually everything you predict comes true.” I replied: “My friend, I wish the same; because the thought of the consequences of a botched election this year is driving me almost crazy.” What makes the matter more frightening to me is the almost nonchalant attitude that Professor Yakubu, Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, is taking to this very real possibility of election postponement, cancelled election or inconclusive election. Our dear Professor, like several we have experienced in our history, might be intelligent, but is obviously not wise. He does not realize that the minute postponement, or cancellation or inconclusive election is announced, the mobs take over. INEC will lose control. Now read this and ask yourself if we are not closer to the brink of chaos.


‘INSECURITY: Polls may be postponed, cancelled – INEC’ (News Report, January 10, 2023)

INEC has just served up a political time bomb, which, if not diffused, will blow all of us up – irrespective of who or which party we support. And the electoral body has done it by resorting to ‘governmentalese’ which is a language universally adopted by public officials when they intend to deceive the people. For instance, when a Minister announces that his government will soon embark on a project, most people don’t know the meaning. It invariably means they have not even thought of it, let alone planned to do it. How many completion dates have been given for the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, with all the sincerity a Minister can muster? Why is it still Work-In-Progress? INEC’s announcement reported above is the worst sort of “governmentalese” I have ever read in my adult life. Taken in conjunction with the request for transport in late December, INEC has placed before us what it considers the best alibi for a predictably botched election in February. The report quoted INEC as saying the following: “Moreover, if the insecurity is not monitored and dealt with decisively, it could ultimately culminate in the cancellation and/or postponement of elections in sufficient constituencies to hinder declaration of elections results and precipitate constitutional crisis. “

In December, my fears were based on the fact that INEC reportedly needed 100,000 vehicles, and as many drivers and assistants, so late in the day. How on Earth does an organisation gather so many people, conduct security checks on them; train them and deploy them in such a short time?

Read that statement again and it is obvious that INEC has increased our fears by pointing to insecurity as a possible cause of postponement or cancellation of the elections. Furthermore, INEC, more than Fellow Nigerians, should be aware of the security situation right now; and nothing known to us provides comfort.

Last year, the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, assured Nigerians that banditry and kidnapping and other elements of insecurity would end by December 2022. We are less than three weeks into the New Year, and the nation has experienced abduction of several people at a train station. And hoodlums in several states are just warming up for operations this year judging from reports from Kaduna and Niger states.

For decades, Youth Corps members have formed the bulk of election officials in every state. This year, from information reaching me, there is stiff resistance from the Corps members – with total support from their parents. At least two fathers have told me categorically that on no account will they allow their daughters to be posted to polling stations in the states where they now serve. Katsina State will certainly experience one of the worst rejection rates this year. If security cannot be guaranteed in the President’s own state, how can INEC expect it elsewhere? And, if that is an indispensable condition for conducting a free and fair election in February, INEC might as well stop now and we can begin to consider how to avert the constitutional crisis which is almost certain to occur.


“In every community, there is a class of people profoundly dangerous to the rest. I don’t mean the criminals…I mean the leaders. Invariably, the most dangerous people seek power” – Saul Bellow, 1915-2005.

I was an idealistic undergraduate in 1967 when this statement jumped out of the page of his book at me. Until then, I had read about Presidents and Prime Ministers leading their nations to greater achievements; with honour and love for the people as a whole. But, since 1990, especially with regard to Africa, I have learnt how true Saul Bellow’s statement was. If I am asked to select one example which proved it in the eight years of Buhari administration, it would have to be the license to kill and destroy given to herdsmen. No other northern leader had done this. Unfortunately, Buhari failed to see the connection between herdsmen’s atrocities and food inflation, extensive malnutrition and millions of infant deaths. That is how dangerous our leaders have become.

The biggest three political parties – APC, LABOUR and PDP – as a whole, have become another source of insecurity which will only grow as the Election Day draws near. I live in Lagos, but have sources in all the 36 states and the Federal Capital. From reports reaching me, it is clear that there is hardly any state where the opposition is allowed to even mount posters; talk less of campaign in open spaces. State Houses of Assembly or the Executive branches, i.e. Governors, have denied access to venues which they use to give to their opponents. Increasingly, one is beginning to wonder if democracy is meant for the black man. There is hardly any black country on earth where democracy is not endangered or is a sham. It all starts from violating the basic rules of allowing all candidates to have their say. Despite all the efforts by INEC, the big three might end up, in various ways, making peaceful, free and fair elections impossible.


“Politicians are their own grave-diggers” – William Rogers, 1879-1935.

It is always painful to me whenever a politician, once strongly admired, suddenly starts behaving and talking in strange ways. I once wrote that if a foreigner were to come to me and say “take me to your leader”, I would not hesitate to take him to Rivers State Government House. That was before the PDP Convention. Other losers have quietly accepted with serenity what they could not refuse. Not Wike. He was the arrow-head of the move to remove Mr Secondus as Chairman of the party and bring in Mr Ayu. Now, he calls Ayu a bunch of dirty names; without apologies to those who followed him to install Ayu.

His latest gaff is the most pathetic. According to him Rivers State has not benefited from 24 years of voting for PDP. Yet, Wike has held public office in all those years. He went from Local Government Chairman to State Commissioner to Minister and now Governor. In each of those positions, he was expected to ensure that Rivers State benefited from voting for PDP.

Is the man now saying that while he obviously benefited immensely, including having a private jet, the people received nothing? Words are like raw eggs; once dropped, they cannot be recovered. He will leave in May; some of his words will definitely haunt him in the future. I honestly pity him.


“England expects every man to do his own duty. Thank God, I have done my duty” – Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson, 1758-1805.

Nigeria also should expect every one of us to do his/her own duty. Our first duty should be to ensure peaceful co-existence as well as stress free transition from one government to another. As things stand, I doubt that we are heading that way now. That is why Nigeria needs you to join the only movement that is anticipating all the eventualities after the February/March Elections.

Please join the COMPATRIOTS bearing in mind that you might make the difference between survival and doom. Call me any time, any day. God bless.