- Post 18 April 2007
- Last Updated on 23 April 2008
- By Hakeem Babalola
Last Saturday elections in Nigeria has finally exposed me to what seems to be the latest theories on self- evaluation. At least, it has helped me considerably to know myself. And I have decided not to pretend anymore. If I could do nothing, or refused to do anything while my house, my business, indeed, my whole life was being heavily mortgaged by a PDP "do-or-die" charade election, then I do not deserve to be called a man; neither do I deserve any respect from my children, and my children's children.
I have this passionate believe that writing about the ills of my society makes me a courageous person. I may be one of those citizen writers who wallow in delusions of competence, thinking pen is mightier than the sword. Now I think I should know better. Now I think I know being a father does not really make me a man. Now I know that doing everything possible to take care of my family – nuclear and extended - does not even make me a man.
It is not that I expect anything different from the result of recently "concluded" gubernatorial and State Houses of Assembly elections in Nigeria. Iwu’s preparation caused little surprise. In fact, I consider any kind of mourning over the outcome as self-pity, and self-seeking. Anyone shielding crocodile tears may have been following Nigeria’s events but without aptness. I am compelled to say here that, any Nigerian that did not see the massive rigging in advance should be tried in Zamfara State, where a do-or-die punishment is awaiting them.
In fact, I am deeply disappointed in those who claim to be the watchdog of the society but now crying over massive rigging. It is equally disappointing hearing the so-called intellectuals faking surprises now. 2007 "elections" – if you don’t know – had been manipulated right from the onset. It all started in 1999, and please don’t ask me how. I knew this but what did I do? Nothing other than to wait for others to bring out the man in me.
Meanwhile, you can continue pretending as if you did not have pre-conceived opinion that, PDP would use everything in its arsenal to out-do other parties – in terms of anything under the scorching sun. Continue hiding under your warped objectivity. Continue to indulge in self-deceit; continue to make an ass of yourself. Just continue.
I mean how would you term this statement from a PDP top notch: "my chairman wants victory for us in all the 36 states of the country. I will not argue with my chairman. But if we can leave a few for the opposition so that we can be a truly democractic country, I will not object to that. We can leave just a few for them. But when I informed our governors of such idea, they rejected to volunteer their states". And what would you think if that top member happens to be Mr. President alias Mr. Democrat?
See, I sit quietly and comfortably here in a white man's land, waiting for the real men in Nigeria to start it. I spoof Nigerians, especially the youths, and pour scorn on them for not defending their votes. I blame them for allowing themselves to be used either as thugs or thuggery. I lampoon them for falling for the rhetoric - of inconsiderate leaders. I often wonder why they have refused to fight for their rights.
I curse the man or woman who had created Nigeria. I pick the group picture of past Nigerian leaders and burn it. I look at myself in the mirror and I see a coward. I mock myself for living a coward life. I walk ambly to the bacony of our rented tenth floor. I had escaped to this Oyinbo land where men and women built with their courage. Real men had fought to make this land worth living; they had fought to make sure every election is being conducted in a situation that progress can be made or advancement possible; where voters would not be subjected to acute mental or physical pain.
Things are now becoming clearer to me. Even when I had the opportunity to get rid of one of the "owners" of Nigeria, I was too timid to pull the trigger. Instead of fighting, I had run away - to a white man's land. I prefer reaping the fruit of other's labour instead of planting my own. I embrace a foreign god, often use my precious time in churches and mosques asking God to bless Nigeria when in fact, I should hold every Nigerian government accountable for their misgovernance. I should fight. When would I be man enough to stand up for my rights? When would I be man enough to fight against unnecessary woe?
I don’t really care about who wins elections because I strongly believe the same people will still be there – except Pat Utomi – at least to experience what a technocrat can do. That is why I am angry. I am angry with myself. I am angry at Lord Lugard. I am angry at Awolowo, Zik, Aminu Kano, Tafawa Balewa, Ahmadu Bello, Aguiyi Ironsi - for failing to see 1975/76, 1979,1983, 1993, 1999, 2003, 2007, and beyond. I am angry at Shehu Shagari for being visionless. I am angry at Buhari for dismantling a chance at getting started. I know I am angry than the angry man. And I am sad – for not being man enough.
It is now clear to me that I have been hiding under the keyboards to escape from the larger task. If I didn't have flair for writing, perhaps I would have put my energy, anger, sadness in leading or participate in an action that would have revolutionalized million minds. Now I know I am not a radical by nature even though I admire certain radicalism. This is why a Ehindero can continue to fool me, ranting about the reason behind the ban on political rallies in the country.
Hear him: "As a result of the violence perpetrated by hoodlums following the release of the results of the governorship/House of Assembly elections in a number of states in the federation, it has become imperative for the police to take a strict action to prevent further breach of peace".
The fact that Ehindero is using hoodlums as an excuse for banning political rallies ahead of presidential poll, exposes the kind of police he heads, and of course, a shame to his uniform and status. Does this mean that social miscreants called Area Boys have uncanny power to direct the course of Nigeria’s election? By the way, what is the usefulness of those gun weilding soldiers who had been unshackled to patrol the street – in a "democratic" Nigeria?
Even then I hesitate to join Michael Oluwagbemi's (busanga) call that, "The honorable thing to do will be to start training a squad force to take out the people bringing the shame on Nigeria. If you are a man enough, sign up". The funny and unsettling thing is that, I quite agree with this emotional outburst. But the fear in me has not left me yet, hence the need to continue shouting Alleluyah Messiah till thy kingkong come.
One Andre Gide says, "Be faithful to that which exists within yourself." But do I even know what exists within me anymore? My life has been wasted because of my lack of courage. At least, shouldn't I preserve my children's life by fighting the forces that had rendered me unable? What is it that I really want to gift my children? Can't I be man enough once in my life and fight for my children’s future just like chimpanzee or cat protects its offspring? Even if that would cause me my own life? Hum, fate loves the fearless, says James Russell Lowell.