Saturday, February 16, 2019 7:26 am
On my way back home from London in January, I met a highly respectable Nigerian and senior colleague, who today runs one of the most successful online newspapers.
Quite expectedly, we did a quick run of the state of Nigeria.
A good listener with a handful of contacts in high places, he whispered to me: “Do you know INEC is going to postpone that election?”
Although not surprised, I gave a shocking look and retorted: “Yes, you are the third person saying this to me and like I’d said to the others, I refuse to believe. So, I’d keep my hope that no such thing would happen.”
He snickered at me and defiantly smiled away as he walked through the business class lounge with a parting shot: “See you on the other side.”
About 8.46pm last night, I updated my Facebook status thus: “Better perish the postponement idea. Ko le werk.”
Immediately, some of those who never knew me to be flippant sounded worried through their comments but expressed optimism it could never happen.
Others reached out to me, asking more questions for clarity and my answer was simple and short: “As you read this, they are toying with the idea.”
Finally, the heartbreaking news came and my fears and concern were confirmed by no other than INEC.
Now, here is a body that had four years to prepare for this exercise. Immediately an election is conducted, it goes without saying that another is expected in four years.
So, how come INEC suddenly realised – a few hours to the election – that there were logistics problems, such that necessitated the postponement of an exercise so critical that the entire world was on tenterhooks?
Sadly, this is what happens that people dismiss as ‘typical of Nigeria’. Everything unserious or impossible is always associated with Nigeria.
We come across as a people in need of recolonisation – a people unable to oversee their own affairs. Whatever the reasons are and no matter how genuine, the current INEC leadership has shown to lack the capacity to sit over that all-important body.
Need I remind us that this very INEC leadership invented inconclusive elections as if a part of its agenda upon assuming office? What this means, therefore, is that the Professor Mahmood Yakubu leadership has never hidden the fact that it was not fit for this job and as such a huge and constant embarrassment.
This is so painful that the world is naturally inclined to seeing Nigeria as a very unserious people – a large social unit undeserving of their precious time, hard earned resources and even concern.
In 2011, then INEC leadership postponed the presidential election on the day of the election, even after many had voted over reasons it could have envisaged if pro-active. Also, in 2015, there was a postponement from February to March, citing security concerns.
But, hey, because they are all essentially products of the Nigerian warped system, they simply could not do better than the system that produced them. Just how sad!
Well, this election has been postponed and there is nothing anyone could do. Unfortunately, the weight of the responsibility to deliver a free, fair and credible election has further piled up on INEC and has become inexcusable.
At this point, if the postponement was designed to further perfect some silly manipulation, the more impossible it has now become. The onus is on them to make sure that Nigeria crosses this phase nearly effortlessly.
More than anything else, INEC just reinforced some of the ugly perceptions that Nigeria has had to live with over the years and still struggling to shrug off.
A bunch of jokers!!