By Godson Azu
Dear fellow Nigerians and compatriots, home and abroad, unto whom much is given, much is expected, to you all, I write this short piece from my heart, with love, just as our school anthem, at MBHS Lagos says, “Land of our birth our faith are bright, for whose thy sake, our fathers died”. For this land many have lost their lives needlessly; innocent lives laid down on the altar of political corruption and patrimonialism, sharing our commonwealth.
We all have just witnessed the elections and its unprecedented outcome, shredded with the blood of uncertainty, devoid of common decency and transparency of an electoral process, how can anyone in his or her true sense of commonality justify the presidential election as being, free and fair, in a modern democratic society, with a country striving to be reckoned as one of the greatest black nation, among the community of nations in the 21st century. In all honesty the democratic transition of Nigeria for the past 23 years, has only shown the prove that the country lacks institutional and structural stability, with many corrupt politicians and wealthy cronies still indeed in control of the political system, electoral instruments, and power base structures, which is to their individual greatest benefit rather than for the greater good of the greater number of the citizens themselves. Has ever been a time the people’s votes and civic rights ever counted or genuinely made a difference in any election cycle since 1999? My ultimate answer would be No. Why is it so? This is because the electorate has always been used as an electoral conduit pipe, to shadow and cover up for vote manipulation, in collaboration with the unpatriotic electoral umpire, so many of whom are deemed, well educated, exposed and middle class working people, whose corrupt mindset has allowed them to play a vital role in denying the electorate of their legitimate choice of leader and governance, which simply shows that elections victory has always been bought by the highest bidders, at the temple of political rogues, rather than an election won by the legitimate votes cast and a fair competitive voter’s game.
How on earth can anyone with a rational mind explain the rationale in which, for the first time in the country’s democratic transition, a greater numbers of young people showed more interest in participating at the recent elections circle, with over 20M joining the electoral register to vote, showing their commitment to drive political change, thereby bringing the total number of registered voters to over 90M, out of which 87M collected their PVCs, meaning that over 70% of illegible voters had the opportunity to make rightful choices of whom to preside over their affairs and govern them with all sense of responsibility. Unfortunately, to the surprise of many observers, both local and international, the election day was full of controversies, with voter suppression, intimidation, ballot box banditry, territorial/ethnic tensions, electoral umpire collusion and divisiveness with certain politicians at all levels altering results and ensuring that their choice of candidate emerges, rather than that which is the will of the people via their votes.
The figures and results as declared with all contradicting facts and figures, goes to show how retrogressive and deductive the country election process has become, with an actual voting population of 87M voters, it’s unbelievable to say only 8.7M Nigerians voters, that is less than 10% of the total electorate, including the 20M newly registered active young voters.
The young voters, indeed casted their votes to elect a president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, with a total population estimated at around 220M, with the largest market and economy in Africa, what happened to this 20million new young change-makers, expected to skyrocket the number of votes cast to over 40million , well above the number of 2019, which was around 28M votes, its indeed laughable and inappropriate, disgusting, disgraceful and questionable.
This presidential election results stands down, as one of the worst political results since independence and Nigeria political elocutionary processes, notwithstanding the gradual improvement of the electoral system since 1999, to the most recent electoral Act 2022. The citizens participatory process has been a progressive climb, with the positive anticipation for more inclusivity and responsive voter action, but this was not the case on the 25th of February 2023 election.
Obviously my hope for a true political and electoral revolution in Nigeria, is not lost yet, as another verse of my school anthem says, “Land of our birth, we pledge too thy, “ we continue to pledge our allegiance, loyalty and commitment to the survival of our great country Nigeria, and hoping that many active voters this time around would have learnt a great lesson about voter’s election day active participation and engagement at the polling stations, collations centers and votes counting points.
There is a huge responsibility for voters now to act wisely and turnout at this coming election on the 18th of March 2023 as a mark of positive voter’s protest of electoral injustice and unfair treatments of actual votes for invisible votes. For example, how come that Lagos or Kano states, with over 5M strong electorates with Voters Cards in hand, should not, produce a state Governor, with more than 30% real votes cast, and every reasonable attempt should be made to avoid any state craft or state political machineries taken control of electoral instruments or personnel for voter manipulation, inflate invisible votes. For an effective and positive democratic process, the votes of the electorate must be counted fairly and justly, without external interference or influenced by any form of collusion, contraptions, and compromises.
We are very hopeful that this time one would be able to see the impact of the additional increase of young voters, the 20M voters revolution most be felt.
We therefore urge everyone with a PVC, to exercise their power to a civic referendum on the political leaders, to come out in their huge numbers to show that they can make a difference and change the trajectory of Nigeria political “Say No to Money for Vote, Say Yes to a New Nigeria” the people’s civic revolution.
Who Owns Lagos?
Let it be known that Lagos Does not belong to Yorubas per say, irrespective of the free-slave settlers from Seirra Leona and Brazil who claim to be descendants of the Yorubas. The name Lagos is indeed a Celtic and Latin Portuguese word, with reference to a “Lake”, and twin to an ancient existing city in Portugal called Lagos. In fact, the original indigenous people of Oko or Eko as it was originally known in the ancient days, were the Aworis and Eguns, who obviously are not native Yorubas, as their dialects are of different language, traceable to as far as Benin Republic, Togo and Ghana.
Let’s wait and see if the multi-ethnic population of Lagos, will continue to be subjective, and politically enslaved to a self-acclaimed Oligarch, whose origin is shrouded in mystery and controversy. His stooges are not working for greater interests of the people, but for the protective interests of the Oligarch Empire. Saturday 18th March is another at the political field of electoral competition between the haves and have nots, between the distorted history of ownership by Yorubas, Aworis, Benin, and settlers.
As long as I am concerned in my historical memory, the original Yorubas, from Ijebu, Abeokuta, Ife, Ibadan, Offa, Owo, Ado, and ilaje, are all ancient trans-border traders and merchants settlers, just as the free slaves of Saros, and Brazilian quarters, the actual builders of Lagos Island, if there are any facts to hold on too, with regards to indigenous Eko tribes it would be between the Aworis, invading Edo’s, (Benin Kingdom) who established the first organised governance and monarchy in Eko, and the Saro-Brazilians who brought in first organised city-state infrastructure and economy. So today, as a mark of history, and modernity, destiny is about to unfold itself in the face of the minority indigenous people of Aworis and the Saro-Brazilian 5th generation citizens of Eko, to produce its first indigenous Governor of Lagos, (Eko Akete Ile-Ogbon), “The Land of Wisdom “, since the modern political transition of the state from 1999.
Would this be the case come Saturday 18th of March, will the greatest number of non-indigene settlers going to make history at this time in modern society, by supporting the minority indigenous people of Aworis to take back their rights in the political power structure of Lagos in which their descendants, and forefathers helped to build, the faith in your hands , political power, they say is not given, but taken.