A fire is burning in the country. Suddenly, a country where impunity among leaders has become the order of the day is suddenly brimming with a strong desire by the people to reclaim their vanishing country.
Nigeria has been diminishing in importance daily with those in authority swelling in their over-stuffed pockets. In the last 20 years of the return of democracy to Nigeria, rather than move forward, everything has been on retrogression with the country winning negative accolades – World headquarters of poverty, fifth world most terrorized state, country with the highest out of school children –a country where corruption is so celebrated that it gives you automatic ticket to sensitive top government positions.
So bad is it that while citizens are committing suicide as a result of excruciating poverty and the accompanying damage to the psyche, politicians show open disdain for the populace.
Elections are usually opportunities for the governed to reflect on what has been and decide whether or not to make changes but in Nigeria the very option of choice which makes democracy people-driven, is denied the electorate. This denial was so blatantly displayed in the presidential primaries of the two leading parties in the country, the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP and the All Progressives Congress, APC.
While some had expected that clamours for change, for younger candidates and a regional shift of the presidential candidates, the people watched as the two parties in clear rebuff of the temperature of the ruled, defined power as money and one in which no one cares what the people want.
While there was much hope that the opposition PDP would cash in on the general feeling of dismay over seven years of dismal performance by the ruling APC to pick a southerner for the presidential ticket. Instead, with an open show of shame the PDP gave the ticket to another northerner, Atiku Abubarkar, the highest bidder. Soon to go President Muhammadu Buhari has been on the saddle in the last seven years and has been silent on the continuous killings by a combination of herdsmen and Boko Haram insurgents. Atiku is in his 70s and has been very guarded in his response to their activities. He therefore, does not represent any hope for positive change.
While some had hoped that the APC presidential primaries would throw up a candidate that would offer hope for a better state of affairs, the party even took the people on a long ride. First it hiked its forms to N100 million with even a minister of state for education picking one while university lecturers on strike for over three months now were not attended to. Then it toyed with the idea of a consensus candidate before selling the ticket to an obviously ailing Ahmed Bola Tinubu, a man whose age is still shrouded in secrecy. Tinubu claims he is 70 but his daughter is 59.
That singular insensitivity of the APC has fortunately for Nigeria, triggered a new wave of interest in politics by a wider segment of society as many are now clamouring for a man with integrity and record of performance in governance, Peter Obi. For the first time, youths who have turned their back on elections with the notion that votes don’t count are campaigning that all must register to vote as a first step towards saving the sinking ship, Nigeria. Churches have also joined and anywhere you turn, the fever of change, the Bring Peter Obi on board cry is ringing high and far. Suddenly, the long neglected and abused Nigerian electorate is awakening to the realization that power actually belongs to the people and there are pushing hard to put the country back on the right track.
The drivers of this new campaign are on the social media and they cut across religion and ethnic boundaries, the very obstacles to Nigeria’s advancement. They are unrelenting.
Dr. Ifeanyi Obilor commenting on Facebook posted:
“The much awaited revolution is here. Silent, non-violent and PVC –induced revolution has come. It will sweep all reactionary forces and weaken all political strongmen like a whirlwind. It will be to their surprise.
“Every force of progress: University, lecturers, students, civil/public servants, traders, labourers, young men and women, indeed all those who have nothing to lose but who have everything to gain, must stand up and form the process to enthrone for the first time in Nigeria.
“Failure to seize the opportunity provided now will not only be catastrophic but will never come soon again”.
Omega Power Ministries was first to open its church branches for PVC registration and today, the churches are directing their members to ensure they register. Operation show your PVC is now being enforced by even private offices. Such is the power of revolution.
As the fire surges, old practitioners are finding out that it will not be business as usual. A battle is on in the APC between former Senate president, Ahmed Lawan and the man who contested for Yobe North Senatorial Constituency, Michican as the party tried to force him to concede the seat to Lawan, earlier tipped for a consensus presidential candidate position. Godwill Akpabio, former Niger Delta Minister who stepped down for Tinubu last day of the primaries is also battling for a senatorial seat he did not actually pick form for.
To such candidates, Nigerians are saying, enjoy the opportunities you have been given these past years.
Yobe North Senatorial Constituency Seat: APC Stalwarts to Lawan:
“We urge our brother Dr Ahmed Lawan at this juncture, to express thanks to the good people of Zone C for the support he has experienced from their since the revival of democracy in Nigeria in 1999 and not to be dragging a Senate seat that he abandoned for an eye for the presidency. A piece of cake can’t be eaten twice in the same sitting”.
It is obvious that there is something in the air, something that would be beneficial to Nigerians if fully explored.
Posters and slogans are springing up from all ends, contributions from Nigerians hungry for change.
On Instagram a Nigerian asked: “Can 10-15m illegal and rigged votes ACTUALLY stop over 50 million authentic and legal votes in 2023 General Elections? Pls stop the politicians’ lie and get your PVC today…your vote really counts”.
The PVC campaign is a first step. It is encouraging that apathy is on its way out of the Nigerian electoral system. But this tempo must be sustained. Rate of PVC collection is still very low. People must be encouraged to take the next step of picking their cards then person to person voter education down to the villages, markets, social gatherings should follow. Nigerians need to know why they have to choose credible candidates. Monetary inducement as alleged at the just held Ekiti State governorship elections must be halted. It is good to know that more people came out to vote. More Nigerians need to vote and wisely too in the coming 2023 elections.
As noted by a social media site, “Those delegates who sold their conscience to present unfit candidates should be made to understand that the power resides with the people”.
It is with the PVCs that the future of this country will be determined so all pushing for change should get ready to be vigilant for the battle to bring about change will not be easy