OPINION: Divided We Stand

OPINION: Divided We Stand

The much anticipated 2015 elections have come and gone and Nigerians can now breathe a sigh of relief that the situation has ended with relatively minimal violence.

But are our troubles truly over? Legit.ng commentator on political issues, Osilama Okuofu expresses his views on this matter and tells us why we should not believe it is time to relent.

The run-off to the 2015 general elections in Nigeria was frenetic, hate-filled and tense. Long lasting relationships and friendships tested to elastic points and in some cases, snapped! A woman was reported to have stabbed her husband fatally because of their political divide. How bad could it get?

The elections came and went. Some claim it is the freest, fairest and most credible election we ever conducted. Really? Arguments like incumbents were unseated, card reader used to check rigging were buttressed. My question is, how is voting out incumbents using underage voters, intimidation, inducement of institutional officials credible or fair?

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Does the use of a new device by itself reason enough to claim credibility especially taken against the backdrop that these devices failed in parts of the country whilst the voting process was still hugely manual and susceptible to age-old manipulation such as multiple voting and ballot tampering? But Nigerians wanted change by and of any means or form necessary.

I do not believe this was a well conducted election. I, in fact, think it is the worst in my living memory, and I have witnessed those from 1979 to date and have participated actively since that of 1993. In my estimation, the 2011 election was far better conducted as was the 1993 election. Why did we get progressively worse? How does underage voting in the North, brigandry in Rivers State and corrupt inducement of electoral officials in Lagos State amongst others qualify as free, fair and credible?

I fear that this election has pulled us more apart than unite us. A situation where two majority sections of the North and West came together to edge out a minority South-south where another four years of presidency would not have killed Nigeria, does not foster a sense of oneness. The effect of this clear lines of divide between the South-south and South East on one hand and the North and South West on another will catch up with us down the road except genuine efforts are made by the in-coming government to heal wounds and bridge this divide and open mistrust which could snowball into physical hostility; a graduation from the verbal point of hostility and abuse we are presently.

Things have gotten to the point now where the two major political parties are now split along those divides. How do you explain a situation where the traditional ruler of a supposed cosmopolitan set-up like Lagos would threaten a section of the country resident there with unforetold outcomes if they vote against his preferred candidate for governorship simply because they are perceived to be of that party and could become spoilers. A case of 'us versus them!'

The governor-elect of one of the South-south states has threatened to take us back to the civil war era, to be prosecuted better than Emeka Ojukwu did for Biafra, because of a feeling of injustice meted out against a fellow South-southerner. According to him, the North and West will not use ‘our oil to develop their states’. If this is how a ‘one nation’ rolls, send me to Baghdad! The good thing however here is that with the dwindling relevance of oil to our economy and an uptake in agricultural production, this will not have a very telling effect on the macro economy seeing that the pyramids are coming back up North; rice now, groundnuts to come later. All these because of an election we delude ourselves to have been free, fair and credible!

As we head towards a new phase in our democratic dispensation, Nigerians are best advised to the reality that never have we been so different in our history than during the civil war; one we thought we had healed from and a path we thought we had left behind.

In realising and accepting these deep schism and divide would we begin a truly honest march towards oneness and unity. A people who dig their heads deep in the sand will always come up to face their problems unsolved. Americans have come to realise that having a black man in the White House did not eliminate their problems of race divide.

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All the ‘we are not blue states or red states, we are simply the United States of America’ mouthed by Barack Obama clearly did not sink in. How else would white policemen be shooting and killing mostly unarmed blacks in a country adjudged to have outgrown racism?

Nigeria is clearly a country of diverse ethnic nationalities whose parts will never truly mesh together. We would be best served to allow these ethnic nationalities to thrive under a loose federation as, I believe, recommended by the last conveyed National Conference. This way, we will not combust.

Long live this Federal Republic of Nigeria.


Source: Legit.ng

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Khadijah Thabit (Copyeditor) Khadijah Thabit is an editor with over 3 years of experience editing and managing contents such as articles, blogs, newsletters and social leads. She has a BA in English and Literary Studies from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Khadijah joined Legit.ng in September 2020 as a copyeditor and proofreader for the Human Interest, Current Affairs, Business, Sports and PR desks. As a grammar police, she develops her skills by reading novels and dictionaries. Email: khadeeejathabit@gmail.com

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