Election of death, shame and shamelessness
Shooting, killing the innocent because we want to rule others. Some newspapers said in Saturday’s elections, 20 persons were killed; some said more than 20, yet some quoted some other figures less than 20. We may not have the right figures forever but we can’t disagree that Saturday’s polls were a festival of death, of destruction and of shame and shamelessness. There were also reports of the killing of a corps member in Rivers State where military grade arms were freely used and video recorded. By the time the fog of these elections clears, we all will realize how so diminished we have become.
Saturday was also our National Self-help Day. Politicians who did not want to lose elections invaded polling stations with thugs who seized and burnt adversarial ballot papers. Helpless voters reacted angrily in self help and attacked an ill-bred urchin who was paid by politicians to destroy ballot papers. Those too decent to kill and roast human beings joined from afar recording the killings and the destruction with their smart phones. We should all agree that what we had on Saturday were elections soaked in blood and tears and shame.
Even our president did self-help after voting in Daura. He voted carefully for himself and then ogled his wife’s ballot papers. What was he looking for? Was the election not supposed to be secret again? He did more after that. He turned to reporters, looked into cameras and flaunted his defiance at suggestions that he could lose the election. A reporter asked him if he would congratulate his opponent in case he lost the election. And his frozen mien immediately flashed the defiance in him: “I will congratulate myself because I am going to be the winner.” That is the stuff you get only from desert warriors conditioned to win at all costs.
And, somewhere in Ikeja, Lagos, the lion who lives in Bourdillon road, Ikoyi, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, had to answer a question on what two cash-laden bullion vans were doing in his fortress on the eve of an election. The reporter who asked that question did not love himself. What he did was tantamount to flashing an impudent torch into the eyes of a leopard – o gbe’na wo’ju ekun. Was that not a sacrilege?
That wide-mouthed journalist apparently did not know that lions anywhere and throughout history are above the law. They don’t rumble the jungle and get queried. Tinubu, ever sure of the terra firma on which his lion stands at all times, did not deny hosting the vans and the cash in them. He roared: “Bullion vans? Are those ballot papers? Where am I voting now? Is it my money or government’s money? I don’t work for government. I am not in any agency of government and let anyone come out to say I have taken any contract from the government of President Muhammadu Buhari of APC in the last five years. They should prove it. I am on my own and I am committed to my party. So, even if I have money to spend in my premises, what’s your headache? I don’t represent any government agency. If I have money, I’ll give it to whomever I like; to the people free of charge, as long as it is not to buy votes. So, who are those watching my house? They must be mischief makers.”
Only a Bola Tinubu could say that. Only he would receive what central banks receive and publicly admit receiving it without consequences. Besides, the question he asked silently in that loud retort is: ‘Is anybody’s money missing?’ And, truly, no money is missing. Every purse and every wallet is safe and fine. He has even promised (or threatened) to give the people money “free of charge.” The poor in Lagos look forward to that. They must have heard of how rich dudes without shops in some corners of continental America used to redistribute wealth to shame the law and the state.
Tinubu’s forthrightness is commendable. While General Buhari wears the ascetic mask of the deliberate poor, Tinubu is that money tzar who told miserable Osun State people last year that he was richer than their state. Those ones knew he was counting their nine fingers to their conquered faces and mumbled some inaudible nothings. Tinubu’s minders tried to spin that message out of damaging controversy that time. But the man who owns the whole of Lagos and its waters fears nothing and no one. So, he recently reconfirmed saying so deliberately and added that even President Buhari’s government did not have his kind of money. That this big man is truly big has been confirmed by the stroll of those bullion vans into his banking Bourdillon home. For those who thought Tinubu was merely boasting about riches, the bullion vans must have taught valuable lessons in the art and science of whole-grain truths from wealthy land owners. And still we must remember that all this man does is service.
Back to the harvest of death and blood on election day. And, despite the tears and sorrow of Saturday, why has there been no anguish from the big men who promised to protect us? Why has the rhetoric been just about votes, winners and losers? Why is it that all we are obsessed with is the why and how of Buhari losing Aso Rock Villa votes to Atiku just as Jonathan did to the incumbent in 2015? Or about other big men losing their polling units like Atiku lost his Yola unit. Obasanjo lost his Abeokuta polling booth. Osinbajo lost his VGC polling unit. Buhari lost his Daura unit (senatorial) votes to Accord party. Why is no one sharing in the sorrow of the parents who lost their innocent kids to murderous politicians at polling stations?
“Power,” said John Adams, “always thinks that it is doing God’s service when it is violating all His laws.” The elections and what we have done with our lives violated all values. You watched the degree of violence visited on voters and INEC officials by politicians on Saturday and the grim ironies of life flood your mind. Imagine street kids offering corps members as sacrifice to the gods of cerificateless office seekers. Who is that unfeeling parent that would release his/her children to enroll as election officials again? Someone said that henceforth we should hand over the management of our elections to soldiers. That our soldiers should be presiding officers doing what vulnerable NYSC members do. That murderous urchins and cultists should be given the rare opportunity to test their might with soldiers. That official experts in the deployment of violence should kill fire with superior fire. That we should send children of fire to handle the furnace of our elections. That whatever results we get from there, we take. That politicians who won’t agree to soldiers being there at the polling booths should then be asked to bring out their own children to do INEC jobs.
I agree. It will be our sorry contribution to the atrophy of democracy.