BY AKPANDEM JAMES
The just concluded presidential election in Nigeria presented a spectacular scenario. With what was commonplace on social media platforms populated by people with higher educational certificates and professional/vocational exposures, it is not likely we are going to have that new Nigeria in the foreseeable future… With that election done, and the self-styled potentates dusted, it would be difficult for some entities to retain their pre-election statuses and reverence.
I was deeply worried about my uncle’s heart. He has a blood pressure challenge. Thank God I was in Uyo when the 2015 presidential election result was announced. I had advised him much earlier against placing too much premium on election outcomes, but should always keep an open mind because anything could happen. I told him that permutations on ground did not favour his then preferred candidate; that he should create room for the unexpected.
He dismissed my advice, citing what he regarded as solid indicators. It almost cost his life.I had just returned from my sojourn in Abuja as one of the principal officers of the 2014 National Conference. Given my orientation as a journalist, I had carried out a survey among a very potent political population that made up the delegates. I knew their thinking and dispositions.
I placed that alongside my many years in the field. It was obvious that what undiscerning persons would think impossible was going to happen. It happened. My uncle almost had a grand reception from his ancestors. I was called in by his club members. My presence helped the situation.
“IT REMAINS TRUE ALWAYS THAT RAW EMOTION CANNOT SUPPLANT STRATEGIC PLANNING. EVERY SEGMENT SPILLS EMOTIONS; IT IS THE STRATEGIC MIXTURE OF THE VARIOUS EMOTIONS INTO AN AGREEABLE PASTE CALLED GOODWILL THAT GIVES A CANDIDATE AN EDGE”
On Wednesday, 22 February, it suddenly occurred to me that my uncle, who is eight years older now, might again be walking a similar pathway, given his peculiar disposition. He had been calling me almost on a daily basis to find out the status of the various court cases involving the gubernatorial candidates of parties in my state. He relies on me to give him information on such politically-related cases handled in Abuja.
I then called him to find out who he was supporting for the presidential race. He told me. I asked him why. He explained. The familiar trademarks! I reminded him of his blood pressure situation and asked him to keep an open mind. He asked why. I told him his candidate does not stand a chance, given the permutations on ground. He argued. I told him the outcomes of national elections are determined using binoculars, not spectacles. Again, he lost but with care this time.
Often, people contest election results because they always see issues from their own prisms. They hardly consider historical antecedents, regional peculiarities, religious affiliations, and the sensibilities and orientation of others that make up the universe of activity. They hardly look at the big picture. They create their own world and live in it. And then assume that whatever obtains there should be the gold standard. Any divergent view is viciously attacked, condemned, rejected and vehemently protested. In their cocoon, they become the custodians of the national conscience.
Those who do not share in their sentiments are enemies of the country. It remains true always that raw emotion cannot supplant strategic planning. Every segment spills emotions; it is the strategic mixture of the various emotions into an agreeable paste called goodwill that gives a candidate an edge.
The mixture is done in a crucible known as structures, built across the divides, over time. It is so because the component divides have their peculiarities, strengths and weaknesses; and these have to be harnessed and cultivated. Arrogance is one ingredient that does not blend. It makes smooth paste impossible. Mindless consumption often results in emotional combustion. The just concluded presidential election in Nigeria presented a spectacular scenario. Religion has dealt a fatal blow to rationalism. It has always been there, but this time it took the form of sordid evangelism.
Some who believe they know God more than God himself, irrespective of creed and educational attainments, became trapped in odious sentiments that beggar belief. People often claim that there is something peculiar about politics in Nigeria.
A comparative spreadsheet would show that is not the case. It is what happens everywhere in the world, even though to varying degrees. Region, religion, race and rewards always play critical roles in the eventual disposition of those involved and affected. Vehicles to push and counter the inputs and outputs are very germane in determining the outcomes. Some Nigerians have become avid complainants about how things are not working in the country; and they often express how desirous they are for a new Nigeria. Underneath such expressions is usually a deep sense of hypocrisy.
The concern is not really about Nigeria; it is about their sentimental predispositions, largely region and religion, and a good dose of greed and opportunism.
In all the sacred books used by the various faiths, God clearly indicates that He is the supreme consciousness. He shares His glory with no one. But what did we see all over the place? Leaders of some faith-based institutions became gods and made pronouncements with uncanny indiscretion. Some uttered curses upon members who do not take their word as gospel. They turned the altar of God into a theatre of absurdities.
They forget that the Almighty is a jealous God. Platforms of religious groups meant for information and evangelism were turned into arenas for hate speeches and preachments of political and religious intolerance Anyone who has a different view would be reminded of how the children of Israel lost their heritage in Egypt because they failed to position themselves in governance when Joseph was prime minister.
Was that God’s plan for the children of Israel, to make Egypt their inheritance? Religionists who do not factor God’s plan into their thinking and rationalisations are bound to turn logic into gospel and confuse the gullible. Sentiment has a way of beclouding reasoning. It amazes when some religious practitioners assume a sense of entitlement. They initiate actions and fail to reckon that others have the capacity to either counter or do the same.
They direct adherents not to vote for people of other faiths but expect others to vote for theirs, nonetheless. Bigotry was elevated to a mountainous pedigree. They label others and assume theirs should be sacrosanct. Clannishness runs deep in their consciousness, some with unbelievable arrogance. Ethnicity has always played a role in our election decisions. However, in the last election there was something that looked like a resurgence of ethnic nationalism.