For six weeks, social and mainstream media have been abuzz with all sorts of advertorials for the two major presidential candidates, General Muhammadu Buhari and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. Television and radio stations as well as pages of newspapers and magazines were filled up with sponsored messages or documentaries aimed at undercutting the personality of the opposition candidates, while some particular media organizations totally lost their sense of professionalism and openly took sides with particular presidential candidates. Similarly, the social media networks, particularly Facebook had friends supporting rival candidates getting locked down in delicate exchanges that hotly and hatefully pitted them against one another. Some had even resorted to curses or open insult of their friends and colleagues for criticizing their preferred candidates. And shockingly, some supposedly cerebral fellows, for reasons still unfathomable, became so shallow and mediocre in their lame attempts to write in defence of their miserable choices.
From all indications, the political party followers and commentators took it out dirty on one another and struggled to sell the candidacy of either Buhari or Jonathan and the supporters sometimes threw reason or commonsense to the winds and settled for sentimental outbursts. The “war” on Facebook could not have been less fierce than the engagements against Boko Haram at Gwoza or Damasak. Lies, embellished reports and slant analyses were presented by so-called ‘objective’ and neutral observers who more likely had the love of one of the candidates flowing in their bloodstream and this often showed in-between the lines even as the ‘analysts’ struggle to conceal the pitiable sentiments.
The arguments and bitter altercations raged on till midnight of March 28, and will most probably persist till the results are declared. Everyone is sure of the victory of Buhari; just as every Jonathan supporter is very confident of the re-election of their candidate. In sum, friends have become foes; husbands have disowned their wives, and fathers, their children. Ethnic groups have been torn apart in support of the “devil and the deep blue sea”. Some students have stopped talking to their professors and some professors consider some of their students “daft” to be supporting candidates considered as misfit. Indeed, Jonathan and Buhari, through the build-up to and these elections, have divided Nigerians and it can only be hoped that we will find a place in our hearts to forgive each other after all these.
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The similarity between the June 12 1993 elections and these March 28 2015 polls is that they both look fearfully delicate and are feared might take the same course of annulment, disqualification, inconclusiveness or disruption, particularly as the “goal post” of February 14 was shifted and military authorities seemed to be deployed in the reserve to thwart the efforts (all that seems misconceived now though); but the difference is that the June 12 elections united every single Nigerian and did not whip up ethnic or religious sentiments.
Now that ‘Sai Baba’ and ‘Uncle Jona’ have gotten what they wanted or did not want and divided us, it is hoped they will institute a post-election peace building and reconciliation process. I hope both of them can make my friends to return to me and make me to re-accept my cronies. It is hoped that after their selfish ambitions have either been realized or truncated, a la electors’ votes, they can now kindly give us our lives back. We need our grooves back.
The build up to, and the 2015 elections proper will go down in history as the most debated, most volatile in social circles, most exciting in terms of the campaigns (calumny and otherwise); most emotionally traumatizing for a sitting president and yet most psychologically tormenting for a former head of state whose erstwhile stainless moral records were upturned in a flurry of moral questions and allegations of forgery and perjury. It is expected that the fallout of the elections will be characterized by more dangerously exciting drama from the supporters: expression of confidence of victory will follow from both camps, and even from the other camps of the unpopular presidential candidates; while there will be allegations and counter-allegations of rigging. It will not be surprised too, if the social media and the regular press also get flooded with petitions and stories as well as debates of whether litigations should follow. Rejection of the results will certainly follow and the defeated incumbent might strategize not to hand over to his closest and victorious rival, or the major contender against the victorious incumbent might challenge his loss in court once again.
The spectre of drama in the Nigerian political landscape is often endless and interesting. But it will be fine if we only witness interesting drama that will bring out, once again, the best in us in terms of logical or illogical argument for or against our preferred candidate; not when there is a recourse to the battlefield. No, the monkeys and baboons must not shed their blood again; and no, when or if there is change, no one will have to be stoned. It must be mature and civilized democratic experience this time round. Never again must we have a ‘do or die’ electoral experience and certainly, we deserve for once, peace and a good name at home and abroad.
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