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When elections dehumanise Africans

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[FILE] Officials count votes in front of voters during the presidential and parliamentary elections on February 23, 2019, at a polling station in Port Harcourt, southern Nigeria. – Nigerians began voting for a new president on February 23, after a week-long delay that has raised political tempers, sparked conspiracy claims and stoked fears of violence. Some 120,000 polling stations began opening from 0700 GMT, although there were indications of a delay in the delivery of some materials and deployment of staff, AFP reporters said. (Photo by Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP)


African, in general, has problems in believing in elections as most of the people still see culturally or traditionally propped up leaders as sacrosanct leaders, while the current leading civilisation expects leaders to be those elected through the ballot boxes, not knowing that in Africa ballot boxes as a means do not count; fabricated results count. Illiterates who are the majority in Africa could possibly not figure out when results are fabricated but they are made to come out to show that they, indeed, participated in reeling out such result.

Nigerians that are supposed to be better than other African people with their number and riches, GDP wise, seem to be failing Africa.No fewer than 80million people registered to express their choice of leadership as two heavy weights stood for the contest; both not necessarily hereditary traditional leaders but leaders of modern Nigeria as military and business commanders. Unfortunately, their approaches made Nigerians more sub humans than the standard humans as death toll continues to rise in the bid to assert that their preferred leader emerges on mere emotionally grounds.

Rivers State, Borno State, Kano State- and they harbour about significant 10% decisive votes – are contending on which State wins the dehumanising crown. For three consecutive elections it has been seen that results from Rivers had always shown that the ballot boxes do not count. The current Minister of Transport exhibit well that notion as reported on STV by an analyst on Nigerians Vote programme. Fake results sheets could be made available to the presiding polling booth officer but the real result sheets could be found elsewhere like reported of results sheets meant for Enugu found in Kogi. As a returning officer you are just handed a ‘do or die’ result sheet to announce and so be it.

Just like the whole world know that Borno State is currently a war zone and within 10minutes bombs were exploding in different directions of the State and people are still asked to come out to prove that they are part of an election to usher in a winner in a State that carries more the dehumanising nature of Nigeria than any other State. In effect what has election got to do with people who are camped in IDPs for the most dehumanising needs and taken for granted provision humansought not to struggle for – food and shelter? You ask them to come to vote as well as commit themselves as human shields in Borno State where some great powers are exploiting African resources with pride – Chad and Niger. Why not sympathise with their ignorance and protect them as weaklings instead of exacerbating their pains by setting them out for bombardment.

A place that ought to be declared emergency zone like Al-Bashir had declared selfishly Sudan for the interest of his foreign acolytes in the exploitation of Africans. Note also that Paul Biya came to power recently without counting on elections in the northern part of Cameroun where Cameroun shares with Nigeria and Chad. Note also that Chad sees the zone as emergency zone and can deploy French military to crush any suspected insurgent group as it did recently crushing a group it suspected as coming to overthrow Idriss Derby Itno. In effect Borno ought to be exempted from Nigeria’s election till the State is stabilised. Kano State was known to have taken the life of the entire family of the electoral officer in the last election and it is still a contending base for dehumanising Nigerians as Kwankwaso and Ganduje throw the poor of the State to kill themselves.

Going through the market of Sabo where I buy commodities from certain people from either Kebbi or Kano, I discovered that most of them were not there and I was told that they travelled to the north to vote and I wondered on whose expense. How is it that they could ignore their means of livelihood and, indeed, part of informal trade that sustains Nigeria’s GDP for mere GDP unfriendly election. The hopelessness and desperation could tell on Lagosians if they decide to unleash their pains on the State as it is happening with the Tanker drivers who are daring the devil in their bid to get to the seaport.

Fortunately Nigeria still show some humanness or should I say adroitness in approaching the election issues. Ladeinde of STV reported that on Ahmadu Bello Way in Victoria Island where a polling area had a number of about 1060 listed and only about 116 turned out to vote. It is either sold out card readers or mature way of protesting. That is an area where the rich people live and even where they decided to come out in V/I they covered the place with their vehicles with ease not fearing any upheaval.

If they can come out in their big cars it seemed they know in advance what is expected. It could be interpreted to mean that whoever wins is bound to face the hard job of being challenged by their adroitness just as the current governor found it difficult to execute the tax regime he wanted to introduce or even the ‘LAWMA imbroglio. That is how government is made competitive or not and any elected post becomes a target for those who opted out to prove that it was their own way of protesting for the rejection of the politicians who presented themselves for the post. Check France where the ‘Gilets Jaunes’ are protesting, they are mostly those who opted out against the two main contenders – Marine and Emmanuel though getting the confused support of those who voted for Marine, the far right.

Lagos has so far shown a relatively more mature approach to the elections as I also saw in Festac where names are displayed in hardcopies to avoid any misgiving of card reader failure or not. Except that in Lagos the logistic issues still remain pronounced as both polling booths presiding officers and collating officers still do not understand that their timeliness in executing their own side of the bargain matter most. Transportation to their places of assignment is not easily procured or made available. Again the assumption that a given area is no go area because it is not in contention with any rival is quite unacceptable as it is made to be known that even journalists are advised not to venture there by security officers.

This is where ballot boxes could be burnt to avoid any witnessing or even card readers could be bought in advance to stop any unwanted voter to be in an area designed as no go area. In effect you are asked to surrender your card and take a sum as preventive measure against exposing yourself to danger. There are, however more to the Lagos case than meet the eye. The important thing is to keep it to less dehumanising process.

Africa is interested in having Nigeria get its elections right; and the processes must show that Africans are also human beings that know what is good for their livelihood as against animal instinct of ‘what can I get to eat now’. Food and shelter are basic things any government should strive to provide for its citizens so that they can overlook or attach less emotion to whoever intends to rule over their affairs that is quite temporal and comes every 4 years. Like they say every electoral mass killing justifies a recolonization intent and it is seen as African youths troop to Europe or America on do or die bases. And mind you, for every six Africans on the street or amidst other races in a cluster of 100 humans representing other races, one is surely expected to be a Nigerian.
•Ariole, Professor of French and Francophone studies, wrote from University of Lagos.


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