I am one of those who joined the rush to obtain a voters card. It is the document guaranteeing you the right to vote your favourite political candidate into the office and to vote the one that has fallen from grace out of office. Most often, however, Nigeria has a history of simply replacing worthless persons with the ones who have not yet made their debut on the long list of worthlessness. A commentator once remarked that Nigeria is a nation where “we don’t have value”. Scathing but truly we don’t have a value system. Immediately after the civil war, too many negative indications manifested statistically.

Reading-a generally important and inalienable recipe for progress-on the continent has considerably dropped and by extension, Nigeria is not separated from the entire continent by any standard. In fact, Charles Larson pointed out on 25 March 2013 that: “…one of the major frustrations of being an African writer today is declining sales on the continent. Reading for pleasure has largely disappeared… In the last few years, Things Fall Apart [Chinua Achebe’s first novel] has had sales of only a few hundred copies annually in Nigeria—a microscopic number in a country with a population of 160 million. By contrast, the American publisher has claimed that Things Fall Apart sells at a yearly rate of 100,000 copies.”

Much of the manifestations of Larson’s theory is by no means invisible today, perhaps the trend will change tomorrow. Intellectual conversation and storytelling are currently not encouraging. Adaobi Nwaubani, writing for the BBC on 25, October 2015, reported that; “Last month, the judges of the $100,000 (£65,000) Nigeria Prize for Literature announced that there would be no winner for 2015. “Professor Ayo Banjo, chairman of the advisory board for the prize, declared that none of the 109 book entries met the required standard.” The conversation about the future of the young nation’s democracy meets with unbridled disorientation.

It is apparent that most Nigerians [including academic leaders] were never students of society nor understand the need to separate society from the individual. Nigerians often build their political consciousness around a charismatic leader who by the way is not necessarily a public intellectual. One would not need to wonder why the various parties have a reputation for being dung heals. It is like the Yoruba concept of “Iru” and “Ogiri”. Nevertheless, Nigerians know where to turn for revenge against the crass incompetence of their leaders -the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

“We will meet at the polls” Nigerians would assure you. President Buhari’s hurricane season is almost drawing to a close and it is unlikely that this man is still a darling of many Nigerians as it was with him in the build of his election to office. It certainly is not the case at this moment. Nigerians have been battered terribly during this period. The inability to purchase books for pleasure has not clouded the Nigerian mind still. It will not. Like mankind in other places, Nigerian mankind is a political animal too. The queues at the INEC registration boots have become longer and wilder. People want their seemingly singular weapon to change the future or earn extra money on election day. Some would vote for petty gifts.

From my view of the phenomenon, the vote sellers are disillusioned. They basically understand that their votes didn’t count much, although giving it up for petty things is completely stupid and foolish. A touch on their instincts will turn them in the right direction. ELECTIONS GET RIGGED 30 YEARS EARLIER Kano was officially the most populated state in Nigeria. With a population that was larger than the Lagos population before Jigawa State was carved out on 27 August 1991. The population of Kano State was estimated at 5,685,785 and Jigawa at -2,829,929 and Lagos was 5,685,785. Many activists cried out against the census results calling it a “lie”. 2006 had this figure; Lagos -9,113,605, Kano -9,401,288 and Jigawa -4,361,002.

The mathematics is clear the votes would be enormous. The conspiracy is crass and we all know it. The innocent people who languish under a terrible lack of money and the basic necessities of life are caused by misrule and a superstitious political system which favours only the “top 1 per cent”. Isn’t it obvious? Northern Nigeria has produced the highest number of political office holders and since independence, one would naturally believe that this would improve the lives of the tens of millions of poor and wretched people of the region. The reverse is the case. Over the decades, trillions of dollars have grown wings and flown out of the country’s economy via the political portal to Europe and America.

The downtrodden have continually remained hopeful but the illusion, preserved by tribalism and religious beliefs and commitment, has remained intact. True there is hope but since the return to democracy in 1999, the top 1 per cent has been consistently helped by the people through their magnificent right guaranteed by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Out of ignorance, the north-south dichotomy that has plagued the country and has plunged the nation into decades of carnage and human butchering and civil war (which killed more than 100,000 combatants and over 2 million civilians) has gained many expressions in recent years.

The elites were determined to keep a northern son in power even if the power structure was going to be compromised. You see getting your PVC and going to the polls on election day will not solve the problem. Democratic changes take more than 4 minutes to initiate. It takes you 4 minutes to vote but it takes an eternity for us to see the changes. Just around four years ago, the election that brought in President Buhari reflected that even the INEC can be compromised and technological innovations can’t replace human effort and conscience. The latter can’t be manipulated. At best, INEC could not stop underage voting in Kano State and many other places. Most of those who, initially, were not favourable to the ascension of the President were often dismissed but many of them did not stop.

One of them wrote; “INEC did create 29,000 additional polling units, allocating 21,000 of these to the North and only 8,000 to the South. More additional polling units were given to Abuja than to the entire South-East. Unrelenting pressure on the body lead to the reversal of this policy then. “The registration of voters and the collection of PVCs. In the South-East, only 7.6 million were registered and 5.6 million PVCs were collected. The North-East had 9.1 million were registered and 7.4 million collected. In the North-West. 17.6 million registrations and 15.1 million collections were recorded. The northwest had much more than the figures in the entire South-East and South-South combined.”

His statement is political but full of facts. INEC then under the “incorruptible” Bayero University professor, Attahiru Jega, favoured the northern side of the divide in the 2015 election. That Jega was not compromised by tribal affiliations is highly unlikely. Meanwhile, the franchise process is still difficult on the south side of the divide. But then many people still remained resolute. They will get their card and try to change their lot. In the regard we have for elections, Nigerians do well. Not everyone votes eventually but there is high hope and almost all hope is invested in the elections; that is dangerous. Nigerians need to put more effort into the process of good governance.

Democracy does not end at the polling booth. In fact, that is just a chunk out of it. We need to do more, way more than just voting on election day. Holding elected representatives accountable for their failure is equally as important as the elections themselves. Communities need to mobilise and put pressure on the local councillor and heads or chairmen of local governments. Large movements should be built and they should be the means by which we press home our demands for justice, social security, complete and total war on corruption, drugs and terror.

Without community organising and grassroots movements, democracy and good governance will only exist in our dreams. But it is time to wake up and get on the streets, the rough marketplace, the dirty trade centres and the hub of operations of the civil service and of course on campuses. Real political participation is on the streets. Ojo Aderemi is experimenting with a grassroots movement for good governance and currently working on the revival of the Pan-Nigerian Youth Movement. He can be reached via


His website www.platinumderemi.com


Ojo, Aderemi is a Historian, teacher, public speaker, writer, politician, and community organiser. He was trained at the University of Ibadan and was President of the Students Union.

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