BOMB BLASTS AND THE NIGERIAN POLLS
News and results from the just concluded National Assembly (NASS) elections is making Nigerians go agog with excitement as a feeling of the expression “Now our votes count” reigns in the hearts of Nigerians.
Africa has been in the fore front of world news within the past five months beginning with the Tunisian Revolution, through the Egyptian and Libyan uprisings. Now the Nigerian state comes to bare courtesy of the 2011 polls. The eyes of the world are fixated on this country, arguably the most westernized African nation. The result of the Nigerian polls will speak volumes about the country, the integrity of its democracy and widely, about Africa.
Nigeria also came into the limelight when a bomb blasts marred the country’s 50th anniversary celebration on the 1st of October, 2010. Since then, the country has been riddled with numerous bomb explosions, a scenario that depicts a shameless state of terrorism. The malady increased in volume within the periods closest to the offset of the polls. It is not news that these acts of terror are politically motivated but it still remains unfathomable why some political kingpins would go to extremes to diminish the country’s already wounded image. Obviously they strive desperately for unwarranted power and wealth from the country’s treasury.
Smart minds have analyzed the situation. Firstly, the turnout of the Nigerian populace for the voters registration exercise was astounding. So the “MEN IN BLACK” (as they still remain unveiled) probably tried to buy the allegiance of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, but he clearly wasn’t selling. To promote the integrity of the exercise, Prof. Jega had to reschedule the dates for the various elections. As Jega’s loyalty could not be bought, the brains behind the terrorist acts resolved to one last effort – instil fear in the minds of electorate so they don’t come out to the polls.
The Nigerian people have received adequate sensitization over the last four years and no bomb threat was going to hamper their determination to vote and choose leaders of their choice. So they came out in mass regardless of apparent dangers that might be lurking around.
‘The idea behind the bomb blasts apparently was to make people conclude that if they came out, some intruder might come and detonate some explosives; so it was safer to just stay at home. When there are no people to vote, ballot papers and voting materials could easily be manipulated.’
This claim has not been established but so far, it seems to be the only plausible argument.
Results coming from INEC on the elections reflect what Nigerians hoped for – even though in some cases, in mere whispers – a free and fair election. Candidates have emerged winners from various political parties and so far the familiar monopoly (orchestrated by ruthless rigging) enjoyed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is becoming obsolete, especially when you consider the fact that the incumbent Speaker of the House of Representatives and some former Governors (all from the PDP), seeking senatorial offices, lost to their opponents.
Nigerians see their desired candidates win and as INEC can be congratulated for a job well-done, the icing on the cake is the realization that we are beginning to have a true democracy; “Now our votes count.”
In the words of the former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, the Nigerian people are saying: We dey laugh O!
PS: I’ve been off the grid for sometime now. I wish I could provide more detailed information on the polls in Nigeria but I’d do my best to report what my limited resources and relatively poor location allows me.