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Choices and responsibility

By Abdu Rafiu
28 February 2019   |   3:06 am
One round of political contestation in this season in our land can be said to be over, at least for now. The tentative assessment is borne out of the realisation that one of the leading contenders is going to court to challenge the officially announced results. The commentary by this column is on what may…

Presidential candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party Atiku Abubakar

One round of political contestation in this season in our land can be said to be over, at least for now.

The tentative assessment is borne out of the realisation that one of the leading contenders is going to court to challenge the officially announced results.

The commentary by this column is on what may be described as the “tentative” state of affairs until perhaps there is a new development of who wins, and who loses in the end.

Undoubtedly, the just-concluded presidential election was keenly fought, indeed, I dare say fiercely contested. And for the voters, all attention was concentrated on the presidential candidates—taciturn Muhammadu Buhari of APC whose supporters swear has contempt for worldliness, and the liberal and ebullient Atiku Abubakar of PDP.

Both candidates are equally matched, with the former appealing mostly to those in the low socio-economic bracket called the masses while the latter’s message resonates more with a broad stratum of the society, from the upper to middle classes whose language he understands and speaks, and to the large swathe of the downtrodden, with the promise as an entrepreneur to create jobs massively.

Buhari placed emphasis on fighting corruption which he said caused unemployment and poverty because money in place to provide infrastructure which is the bedrock of a flourishing economy, particularly power and roads, and consequently jobs, had been shared leaving the treasury with nearly nothing for the government to fulfill obligations.

Close to election, he deliberately went out to woo and incentivise those at the lower rung of the ladder, brandishing Tradermoni and Marketmoni tool, what the Opposition called inducement for votes.

To Atiku, the subject of economy requires a holistic approach, which is grounded in a blueprint which is proven to be an economic empowerment and booster instrument for all cadres of the citizenry. He presses the fundamental issue of rebuilding the country to make it “work again” through political and economic restructuring for inclusiveness and to engender a sense of belonging, equality and equity. It is the yearning of a great many of the enlightened except those amongst them trapped in the conclave of opportunism.

While Buhari leveraged on the outreach of incumbency—numerous support groups, Atiku depended mainly on personal resources and sparse donations.

While the principal candidates preoccupied themselves crisscrossing the land, from one end to the other to sell themselves and their vision, debate raged fiercely in the social media, twitter, Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp and television.

Terrific as they are, in these climes their usefulness and influence could not go beyond their power of immediacy. Their drawback manifested in failure of supporting infrastructure such as electricity to power the gadgets.

For hours during the day and for several nights there was power outage to watch television. In the rural communities electricity supply was a rare commodity.

When the gadgets are enabled, their storage capacity is limited and it is not infrequent the system administrator advises the user: “Can’t download because there isn’t enough space left on your internal storage. Please, remove files from your internal storage and try again.”

The old lady, the print media, is the instrument with the pulling power and it is that offers permanency. It is reliable. It is the instrument for authoritativeness and for the record. It is, however, facing challenge of electronic digital media and the decline in the reading culture.

Those in the reading age bracket, which for quality newspapers is between the vibrant ages of 36 and 68, who are endowed with resources to provide their own private power supply in the cities and towns and who understand issues at stake in an election, do not vote!

In the unending battle between the haves and the haves-not, the man of means is regarded with suspicion and profit is dismissed as loot.

To cultivate a cult followership, what a clever contestant needs is to harp upon the suspicion of entrepreneurship which normally flows out of thinking out of the box.

In the Western world, the man of means must fill in the gaps. He must be made to pay higher tax, both personal and corporate. In the developing countries such as ours, in place of exhaustive espousal of programmes, there is recourse to name calling.

Real fundamental issues to appeal to reason are glossed over, appeal to emotions then becomes the focal point.

I have this to share, what I call the Parable of the Bonesetter. A neighbour ran into an itinerant shoemaker a few weeks ago.

The shoemaker was asked: “Young man, what do you think about the coming election?” His disarming response was: “When you break a limb, you need a bonesetter.

While the bone is being reset, there is a lot of pains. In the course of healing, there are also pains.

Nigerians must bear pains while Buhari is trying to fix the broken bones. That is what has been happening and Nigerians should cooperate and bear with Buhari for more time to reset the bones and achieve total healing.”

The picture the young man has painted is powerful. There is no doubt that Nigeria is in need of being fixed.

The purpose of the election is to decide whether Buhari is the better bonesetter or Atiku is the one with orthopaedical skills.

Those with knowledge of modern healing skills who ought to have come out in engaging and robust counter debate are content with fidgeting with social media gadgets and so have limited reach through social media. What is worse, they do not vote and do not influence others to do so.

The total number of registered voters is 82.3 million which is said to be more than 70 per cent of eligible voters.

Professor Mahmood Yakubu, chairman of INEC said “voter turn-out for the 2019 general elections from analysis we just concluded is 35.66 per cent.”

We can see clearly the perception of those largely to shape the world in the absence of far-sighted, knowledgeable thinkers, more indisputably so in the developing countries.

In the Western world, too, voter apathy has become worrisome such that it produced a Mr. Trump. For every choice, however, there are consequences.

All who have made their choice through the elections are subject to the consequences of their decision, according to the eternal, immutable and self-acting Law of Nature.

For every sowing there is reaping and in multiples by the sower. He is unalterably linked to his sowing and the harvesting. Election is the exercise of free will to choose representatives and the team to lead.

In the state of the world today, we human beings have not had ourselves advised of how we can come up with some other ways of pushing leaders forward since the era of the failure of “Divine rights of kings,” a doctrine propagated by King James 1 and which collapsed after what was known as the Glorious Revolution of 1688-1689.

The present system in the final analysis is, no doubt, respect for free will of mankind, the unhindered exercise of the freedom of choice.

Since in this way, leaders rise through the ranks of the electorate, they can only be the mirror of their electors.

The leaders cannot tower above them even if it would mean being led to the summit of the mountain or being thrust to the bottom of the valley.

Those who are passive and who excuse themselves from voting, content with being glued to their television to watch proceedings are subject to the consequences of those who voted on their behalf.

In some isolated cases, some standing in knowledge, may have cocooned themselves from the filth, bickering and violence of politics to long for that which is high and noble. Their longing for higher ideals and light connects them to beyond the plane of Darkness.

The prayer in the end will be for a time our world will come to the recognition that leaders are not electable. They are born, not made! Students do not elect their own teachers! The sent leaders come well equipped in every way for their high tasks.

In the higher knowledge spreading on earth today, we would see that we are all students in this deep vale of matter!

Predictably, the election results are being disputed. Atiku is heading for the court. His representative, Osita Chidoka, foreshadowed his party’s next line of action at the Election Results Collation Centre, Abuja.

He raised concern about non-usage of smart card readers in some places and that his party would like to have details of the number of accredited voters captured by the card readers.

Chidoka said: “We believe that the difference between the accredited voters and the total votes cast which came to about 750, 000 requires an issue to be looked into.

Finally, we believe that INEC needs to look at the cancellations that took place in the elections impacting on 2.7million.

So, in our view, this election needs to be looked at again and possibly—more importantly, we would have had a re-run.”

Professor Yakubu, responding said the difference in the valid votes and cancellation was insignificant to impact on the general outcome of the election.

He said observations raised by the PDP agent would be useful for future elections, including those of 2023.

Indeed, according to him, preliminary investigation revealed that the disparity cumulatively was actually less than two per cent.

Buhari scored 15, 191, 847 votes and Atiku, 11,262,978. Buhari won in 19 states while Atiku won in 17 and Federal Capital territory.

The two have spoken as mature leaders, with Buhari promising that his administration will intensify efforts on insecurity, restructuring economy and fighting corruption.

Atiku, while appealing to his supporters to keep calm, dropped the hint of his resolve to challenge the result in court.

That is the right step and the reassuring word that will definitely engender confidence and dispel the baffling deafening silence in critical parts of our land and the pall of despair which seems to overcast the firmament.

All said, we seem content with telling the world that we have done our best and not necessarily trying to convince the world that we are reaching for the moon. As this speaks to the citizens, so does it speak to INEC in the final analysis.