Opinion: On The February 25th General Elections
By Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko
The die is cast. Political gladiators, political hustlers and political stragglers are about to learn deep lessons about the almightiness of God, creator of heaven and earth, who alone ruleth and governeth in the affairs of men. The politicos will learn a thing or two about the degree of anger and bitterness in the land today. And the masses will also learn something about the depth of the decay and morass in the land and that the demons we all bowed to and worshipped over the years for empowerment and accomodation, have become so strong and therefore difficult to remove and replace.
Above all, every one else will inevitably learn about the long-ignored, usually overlooked evil impact of illiteracy, ignorance and hunger.
We’ll all learn and understand more, the Nigerian dilemma. Bitter lessons await everyone. Trust me.
Pride, vaulting ambition and desperation for power blinds men’s soul. It also distorts our appreciation of reality. Hubris, desire and availability of cheap, unearned easy money, push men into unholy dreams and scheming that seem to push men to challenge God.
While smart alecs and clever rouges amongst them who cleverly cover their tracks, present themselves as saints and angels from heaven. Others claim to be powerful to loose elections.
As the naive and gullible masses jump up and down less than four weeks to the polls, screaming kwankwasiya, obedient, atikulated and batified, the whole land reels needlessly in unprecedented pain and suffering. And the beat goes on.
Uncanny, unwholesome and strange developments that are intolerable in other clime reign here. Sad.
Painful over all else, remain the unassailable fact that elections cannot address nor begin to solve the problems holding Nigeria down.
Desire and craving to be accommodated within the system and live the soft life, blinds our compatriots to the truth that only consensual reconstruction of the polity along the lines of true federalism and devolution of power, will heal the land. Nothing else.
Meanwhile, politicians brazenly display their powers to inflict pain on the masses and get away with it as usual.
1 All the banks hoard and hand over almost all of the new currency released by the CBN to their politician-friends, all for vote buying on the 25th of February. To get around the currency change dilemma. Everybody is silent. Nobody dares say this openly. Yet everyone knows that is exactly the case. Nobody wants to offend powerful men in the land.
2 As banker-friends of the major Presidential candidates stockpile and handover the new notes to their masters for the do or die battle of 25th February, the masses suffer a dearth of cash, of even the old notes, as POS operators cry out in anguish and frustration. Law enforcement agencies, opinion leaders, the authorities and even the media look the other way.
A clear confirmation that some animals are more equal than others.
3 The introduction of vote-buying in November 2017, during the Anambra gubernatorial elections, was tolerated because the country wanted to disprove the agitators who threatened that the election would not hold. Authorities were willing to look away from every absurdity that transpired then, as long as a winner was announced. So began the dangerous culture of vote buying. Today, the entire economy is almost crippled because newly minted cash is being husbanded for deployment on February 25th. Ruthless politicians desperate to buy votes on the 25th of February, heartlessly mopped up every dime in the country and everyone is suffering, even as the very poor starve as their businesses are crippled.
Everyone conveniently pretend they are unaware of the truth. Naija we hail thee.
4 As these great evil reign over the land, the younger generation are watching and noting in bewilderment. Discerning folks do not have to look too far to understand whether these absurdities strengthen or weaken faith in the country.
Complicating the already bad situation, is the self centered activities, positions and statements of certain individuals whose only interests are political accommodation and reward and not the good of the land. These fellows support and engage in unacceptable rabble rousing, unhealthy brinksmanship and dangerous clout chasing, just for political expediency, without considering the inherent dangers and negative consequences of their very selfish behaviour.
When these sad developments are evaluated dispassionately, especially under the reality that only restructuring the country will help us all, the madness of elections craze turns easily to sadness. Restructuring of the polity remains the panacea to all the ills ravaging the land. Believe it or not, I’m already looking at the possible dynamics of 2027 general elections, all things being equal. This one has already been lost and won.
LEST I FORGET
The quite unnecessary impasse in the South East has become both infantile and shameful. A failed attempt at covering up the horrific misdiagnoses and mishandling of an innocuous agitation by frustrated youngsters of the region since 1999, regrettably led to a near shutdown of the economy of the region. Mismanagement and misapplication of instruments of coercion, offended and provoked the agitators and the dynamics changed.
Those responsible for the error of judgment that brought us here know themselves, only they are too proud to accept responsibility for their avoidable mistakes.
Hubris and fear led them to ignore reason and common sense, erroneously believing that application of lethal and brutal force will crush the agitation. Whereas it only convoluted and complicated the crisis. Arrogance of power also helped mess up the situation.
Engaging the agitators and addressing their fears early in the day would have solved the crisis, but some people would have none of it. They preffered crushing the agitation without listening to the grievances of the agitators. They feared listening to the agitators and addressing their grievances may soften the yoke of the people of the region. Something they resent and find unacceptable. Now, just look at where we are.
These are why the agitation in South East grew from a little flicker of flame into a raging inferno.
1 Knowledge barrier prevented the authorities from understanding that only timely and early attention to the root causes of the factors driving the agitation would resolve the breeze. Shooting at them without ever inviting them to present their grievances only hardened them and deepened their resentment.
Ignoring them for 24 years, gave them the impression that the authorities are saying “do your worst”. Agitators from every other region have been engaged in a dialogue, except agitators from the Southeast.
2 Regional leaders, scared of offending the central government were only interested in doing just what will please the central government. The truth therefore suffered. Problem remains unsolved and everything goes round in circles, even as the crises mestasaszied over time to paralyzing the entire region every Monday for over a year and half now. Schools, banks, markets, offices and economic activities grounded every Monday. Insecurity, especially gun violence thrive, as life is sadly cheapened.
3 Past discreet deeds and deals of politicians who emerged regional leaders that made it difficult, if not impossible for them to dispassionately stand on the truth and on the path to resolution and closure. The intimidating stance of the central government and the lack of cohesion and synergy by the elders and leaders of the region, coupled with the intrasigience of the agitators themselves.
4 All these coupled with the sickening covert activities of collaborators who see themselves as friends of government, but whose sole aim remains survival from the crises. These categories of characters had some value simply because they had offered credible information in the past in order to assist the authorities continuously hold down and permanently subdue the region. They relish their relevance within the system and tirelessly intervene, meddle and interfere in all security decisions affecting the region as unofficial advisers. Theses fellows muddled up everything in order to profit from the crises.
5 Regional politicos who over the years, struggle to impress on the powerful owners of Naija that they alone control the region, just to gain undeserving political mileage, ruthlessly hindered, blackmailed, and blocked sincere and committed activists from presenting the truth to the central government. These regional politicians who grossly exaggerate their influence attempted the impossible. They attempt to understand the psyche, frame of mind, strength, and plans of the agitators better than certain activists the agitators wholeheartedly trust. They spent all their lives sucking up to owners of Naija for acceptance and relevance, benefiting from the system and getting empowered in the process, while the trusted activist spent all his life earning the trust of the younger generation, especially the agitators.
Suddenly the politician believed his friendship with security agencies and his deep pocket will qualify him to blackmail the activist, turn the security on him and emerge the influential figure of the region. Something akin to attempting to emerge taller and shorter than a man at the same time. Or lighter-skinned and darker than a man, fatter and thinner, richer and poorer all at the same time. Impossible.
This unreasonable stance led them into avoidable mistakes that crippled the region, even as they blame everyone else but themselves.
They refused to understand that whereas they excelled in hustling powerful politicians, including Alhajis, retired Generals, former Presidents and heads of state in Abuja and achieving relevance in the system, ( that granted them relevance and empowerment), it was simply impossible to simultaneously come down to the East and beat and displace long-standing activists who earned the trust of the youths over decades of sincere activism.
It is this greed to dominate both Abuja and homefront, without ever listening to activists at home, that crippled the East. Like the dog chasing two rabbits, they caught none.
Today, birds, insects and ants including fishes in the water all over the world, now know, that these regional politicians who have obstinately claimed since the military era, that they alone are in charge of the South East, are actually in charge of only their wives and children, as they all stay at home every Monday.
Twice in late 2021, the entire leadership of the zone gathered at the Enugu State house, Governors, Ministers, Legislatiors, Traditional rulers, Senior Clerics and Priests, Elders, Senior citizens, Opinion leaders and all, pleading that the people go about their business
, Elders, Senior citizens, Opinion leaders and all, pleading that the people go about their businesses every Monday. Nothing happened.
Just look at the political, economic and social condition of the region today. Sad.
Today’s South East regrettably clearly worse than in 1999 when Ralph activated the agitation at 22 Ajidedidun street, Agulejika, Lagos.
What exactly are we waiting for before we go back to the August 30th 2017 agreement, where Nnamdi accepted restructuring of the country in place of secession and pledged to quieten the agitation for twelve months to allow time for the restructuring of the country.
Those who used operation Python dance to destroy the 2017 peace process should kindly return to the 2017 peace process.
Truth be told, neither the country nor the region has known peace since the military invasion of September 2017.
I plead we humbly face reality and return to the August 30th 2017 peace process.
Truth is bitter.
— Evangelist Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko
Founder: Igbo Youth Movement IYM
Secretary: Eastern Consultative Assembly ECA
Deputy Secretary: Igbo Leaders of Thought ILT