#NigeriaDecides2023: Why we mustn’t allow genuine grievances degenerate into violence

 #NigeriaDecides2023: Why we mustn’t allow genuine grievances degenerate into violence

By Ernen Kaanti

As long as we Nigerians remain sceptical about democracy, the whirlwinds of fear and doubts will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day that fine democracy is apparently introduced into our kinship.

In a fine democracy, people should demand for all of their rights there and then whenever they perceive they are being deprived of such rights. The rags of democracy, as some people may say, to which we are holding in Nigeria brings us elections of people into offices after a defined period of time as specified by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria hence the 2023 Presidential Election that took place on the 25th of February, 2023.

The presidential election came and gone but it obviously left Nigerians with exacerbation of existing socio-political problems and even onset of others-there are seeming pejorative ethnic tunes, re-emphasised ethnic backgrounds as well as bizarre verbal expressions that are purely unhealthy for democratic stride in any society. The alarming fact is that even those who are classified under the elite class are casting disillusionment in the air and breeding more scepticism among Nigerians as to how long we should endure before reaching the glistening hills of the democracy that we hunger for.

There is a climate of dissatisfaction among Nigerians over the process in which the election was conducted. The contestants and their supporters have being crying injustice, asserting that the election process that declared Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner was marred with irregularities and electoral malpractices following INEC’s failure to electronically upload results immediately from its polling units to the INEC Results Viewing Portal (IREV).

On the heels of the above, the Labour Party (LP) and its presidential candidate, Mr Peter Obi; Action Alliance (AA) and its presidential candidate, Mr. Solomon Okangbuan, and Allied People’s Movement (APM) and its presidential candidate, Princess Chichi Ojei are seeking review of the process and if possible annul the election.

Now that the parties have approached the court for apparent justice, I feel it is yet another outlet for our able judiciary to make transparent justice an apparent reality not only in the eyes of the plaintiffs but also in the eyes of the defendants and even in the eyes of whoever may be interested. And in my philosophy no lover of democracy should contest that.

Disturbingly, I read with derision, repugnance and antipathy in one of the national dailies a twit accredited to one of the Ministers of State who in question is a Nigerian lawyer, columnist and human rights activist, while he was reacting to the petition filed by the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, calling for the annulment of the February 25 Presidential Election.

In that disturbing twist, the minister asserted as reported said that all the deceit, lies and disinformation about simple and clear issues would be busted in the court. He was quoted saying, “I am excited about the issues raised in those Election Petitions. All the deceit & lies & disinformation & misinformation about otherwise very simple and clear issues are about to be busted by our Law Lords. Whoever continues to argue after that should relocate to another planet.

“Nigerians will finally see a huge difference between calm, dispassionate adjudication of issues and all the hoopla caused by garrulous spokespersons shaking and falling on stage, ignorant TV hosts turned debaters, misinformed documentaries, illiterate tweeps and some dancing Hijabi mamas.”

Was this a prophecy or a simple way of telling Nigerians that our judicial proceedings could be so easily predicted/preempted?

I had a brief debate with one of my friends on social media when we read the piece of news in the online version of the paper containing the twit attributed to this minister and my friend concluded:

“What so ever message that was intended to pass across its target audience, in the mumbo jumbo thrown into cyberspace by a supposedly responsible minister as quoted above, one could see the highest contrariety and incompatibility that can exist between responsible democratic mind and reckless harbinger of lawlessness in the whole world”.

The minister in his twit tried to see everything wrong with the seekers of clarifications on the election process so as they may go home with satisfied minds but I feel that Nigerians at all levels of social classifications must come to understand and appreciate the fact that the true meaning and value of justice is when it is sought with compassion and seen with compassion in the eyes of all.

It is said that a clear conscience does not fear any accusation. When we are just and fair in our doings it will not be tough for us to see our brother’s and sister’s point of view, to hear their questions, to know their assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers and sisters who are called the opposition.

We ought to be ready in our fairness at all times to prove our innocence and sense of justice to those who stage protest against us but we must not stifle protest especially when they are creatively staged. Like Martins Luther King Jr once said, “every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.”

The election came and gone and some people drummed home with victory but in spite of victories, violence being it verbal or physical never brings permanent peace.

In a democracy, our end is a community at peace with itself and so we must learn to convince with our soft words, but if our words are as piercing as dynamites, we will definitely end up bruising our own selves with physically destructive violence.

Through our words and actions, we must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of anarchy, but on the positive affirmation of democracy. At her age, Nigeria has come to the time for an all-out world war against anarchy.

The rich in progressive politics and leadership postures must use their vast resources of wealth to develop the democratically underdeveloped. We must begin to re-dedicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for more favourable ways of addressing political, social, economic and religious differences in Nigeria through fairness, truth, honesty and justice both in our words and actions.

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