Thoughts on the Nigerian Electorate

This is going to be a two part piece. I’ll talk about the Nigerian Electorate in this piece while I’ll focus on the Nigeria Elections in the next piece. This piece is a neutral look at the Nigerian electorate and what influences their candidate choice.
You must know that Nigeria which has been touted as the largest black nation in the boast boasts of about 160 million people and is majorly composed of three tribes which have been divided along border lines both geographically, mentally and religiously.
The great divide between the northern and southern part of the country has influenced almost everything that has got to do with our Federalism. The northerners greatly aided by religion (dominant Muslim) has been in war against the Southerners (dominant Christians).
There’s been a civil war to this effect, there’s been massacres and pogroms also to this effect and one has to wonder why successive governments really pay no attention to this gulf and rift.
The northerners believe Nigeria should be an Islamic state, they believe it is their right to own and govern Nigeria, they see the Southern Christians as infidels and enemies that should be killed and maimed. They see them as a minority who shouldn’t have a say in Nigeria.
The southerners believe Nigeria is theirs and should be governed by them because oil (which is Nigeria’s main source of income) is found in their region. They see the northerners as blood sucking demons whose only duty is to kill Christians and so there is an inborn hatred even if they take no physical action to back up this innate hatred.
These two have failed to find a middle ground to cohabit and relate. I wouldn’t blame them though, no real concerted effort has been made from the center to try to find a middle ground. And so what we have had over the past years has been a tug-of-war where they both try to justify their stand.
With these theories at the back of your mind, you see why it’s not rocket science to try to decipher what determines who the average Nigerian votes for at the polls especially when the two main candidates are from two different sides of the divide (and religion too).
The average northerner will vote for a fellow northerner and a fellow Muslim. The average southerner will vote for a fellow southerner and a fellow Christians. To understand this perfectly, you need to have gone to the Mosque on the Friday preceding the elections. You see how Imams and the likes turn the election into a religious affair with some quotations from the Quran to even back up their reasons why their followers should vote for the Muslim candidate. You needed to have been in church too on the preceding Sunday to see how Pastor threw decorum to the background in their efforts to ensure their congregation cast their votes for a fellow Christian “brother”.
Sadly, this election was more about religion than it was about the state of our nation. no matter how hard we try to run away from this, this election bothered more on the religion of the two main candidates as a criteria for their qualification rather than on their worth as humans! This election was more about the ethnicity of the candidates rather than the political authority each had.
With this in mind, you can already visualize voting patterns. And your assertion was right. It turned out that way. The north voted for their northern candidate, the south voted for their southern candidate. And so, the winner was entirely dependent on which of the divide had more voters and this is where the problem lies. To understand this, you only need take a look at the Nigerian map.
Nigerian MAp
The Nigerian Map || Courtesy: Microsoft Encarta 2009.
From the map above you’ll realize that the vast portion of Nigeria belongs to the North, the North outnumber every other region both geographically and by population. And hence with this large difference in population, you see that this leaves us with an unbalanced electorate which will leave the North outnumbering every other tribe by a ratio of 2:1. You can see why the North holds the upper hand whenever it comes to elections. This is wrong. No so group should have all this power. No such group should be able to decide the leadership of a whole nation on its own especially when their choices are based on religion and ethnicity. This will leave us with an unbalanced government; one filled with too much jingo and bias.
There are many ways to solve this problem. But no matter the solution you may have upstairs, separation is entirely out of it. I don’t buy the idea of separation. I seriously think a massive sensitization should take place in the North and South. A perfectly working democratic system shouldn’t vote in leaders based on religion and ethnicity. This is atrocious and unacceptable. The electorate should vote in only credible candidates. This is how a democratic system works.
One only need look at the election of 1979, there we had a situation almost similar to this one. Then we had two major parties then and we also had an electorate that voted along ethnic lines but let’s look at what the NPN (National Party of Nigeria) which campaigned vigorously and garnered support from all corners of the country. Meanwhile the NPP (Nigerian People’s Party) restricted their campaigns to the South and at the end, they couldn’t even garner all the votes from the south due to the good work the NPN did. Our modern political parties should learn from this, they should go to all corners of the country and campaign, present their manifesto in a suitable way to even the layman and allow their work speak. With the kind of campaign the NPN did replicated today, we would see an aversion from the already established voting patterns in our country.
If we can do all this and more, then we would have set ourselves on the honourable path of balancing our electorate.
God Bless Nigeria.
Long may we remain as One.
God bless us all.

Stay True!

Miracle Roch.

The Nigerian Conundrum

The perpetual question of whether Nigeria is a nation or a conglomerate of nations is one that has always caused a large furore wherever the issues of our polity are being discussed. Fingers have been pointed at the forceful amalgamation of 1914 by Lord Lugard, others have pointed at religious bigotry and jingoism, others at the ethno-linguistic structure, some others have pointed at different things, but one constant factor in whatever reason anyone brings up is the conspicuous fact of laying the blame at the feet of another and the sheer withdrawal from responsibility.
On the 29th of May 1999, the military government gave way to a civilian regime; democracy was then considered the best way through which leaders are elected since the military government brought a lot of ‘bad blood’. Since then, the 29th of May has been engraved into our history and placed in our archives since it marks the ‘glorious’ transition to a representative government. It has become for us Nigerians, a yearly national holiday.
However, with the widespread corruption and mismanagement, with the economic downslide, with the decaying infrastructure, with the gross national insecurity, can one say that we are reaping the dividends of democracy? Since the kick off of democracy in Nigeria, successive administrations have paid lip service to the needs of the people; our leaders have been interested only in enriching themselves hence sacrificing national service on the altar of selfish interests. A cursory look at the Nigerian leadership structure will reveal that it is a mere recycle bin with nothing to write home about, where dirty politicians push buttons and have their way at the expense of the populace. It is in line with this that Prof. Jega once said that “there is no civility, hardly any decorum, too much crudity with an unfathomable aggression and violence in the arena of Nigerian politics”. As a result of these anomalies, Nigeria is a country divided against itself, ethnic and religious dichotomy remains the basis upon which most actions are taken. We have more differences than similarities and the Civil War is a proof to that, so is the Niger-Delta crisis and the recent threat to Nigeria- Boko Haram is the biggest of all proofs.
Permit me to highlight some very important periods on Nigeria’s path to apathy: the genesis of it all was January 1914, when the amalgamation took place to satisfy selfish economic interests of our colonial masters- Britain. How justifiable is the amalgamation of two protectorates with entirely different norms and beliefs without their consent? Another important period was October 1, 1960- the independence day. Our pseudo- nationalists could not see beyond their noses, they never laid solid foundations for the continuity of unity and the advancement of national development, hence, the subsequent coups which continued like a chain reaction. Let’s not also forget the 29th of May, 1999 – Handover to an administration brought about by an incredible election process. More recently, the Niger Delta crisis came to the front burner, even though it has now been calmed. It is important to note here that prior to the grant of amnesty to the Niger Delta militants, the Niger Delta area was a place funding the whole country but suffering the most, a place “whose squalor is a fall out from its splendour and whose poverty is a product of its wealth”. The commencement of a generation of agitation by its youths was probably justifiable. The most recent threat to our national security is the Boko Haram, a political tool disguised as a religious sect. This is just a handful of the problems Nigeria face as a country, how about the epileptic power supply? How about the bad roads that have become death traps? How about the massive unemployment?
What is the way forward? There is no gainsaying the fact that Nigeria is in a mess right now but what can we do? As Nigerian students in the University of Nigeria, we can actually do something, we can individually distinguish ourselves in our day-to-day activities, being upright in all our endeavours, working based on merit and not fear or favour. If we imbibe this attitude, we will one day be heard and the call for change will become inevitable and irresistible. Just like John Fitzgerald Kennedy, I will advise that you do not always think of what your country can do for you but also think of what you can do for your country. Do not neglect this call, unless you are ready to see your loved ones blown away by bombs, unless you are contented with the state of things. Make no mistakes, despite the corruption by the powers that be, power still lies with the people and if we painstakingly persevere, we shall prevail for only then shall the restoration of the dignity of man be complete. Do not think that you are insignificant and that whatever you do cannot change the course of the country. You are the solution to Nigeria’s problem. Please let us as lions (the kings of the jungle) be at the vanguard of this movement for change.
Finally, I will like to borrow the words of the Ikemba of Nnewi when he said that “a Nigerian is and must always be a Nigerian, as Nigerian as every other Nigerian in the concept of Nigeria.

Stay True!

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