When Thomas Hobbes described the state of nature he specifically stated that life was poor, brutish, nasty, and short. Man was self-seeking and the one who conquered took it all. If I may borrow a leaf from Machiavelli, the end justified the means. Fast forward to creating societies and the system of government that should preserve them. The prima facie foundation of all laws that be is the law of nature and the inalienable human rights. Hobbes itemized them in the nineteen laws of nature in his assessment of the creation of societies. The singular aim of this article is to critically assess the hope of the common man in Nigeria. This is with retrospect to the 2023 presidential election, as well as the INEC declared president.
THE GENERAL WILL
Elections in Nigeria are predominantly characterized by partisan politics, campaigns, electorates, electoral commission, and violence. Despite its tedious nature and the amount of resources invested in the process, election(s) is a vital indicator of democracy. It creates the environment that enables citizens exercise the political yet fundamental right of choosing their leaders. It is safe to liken this to Rousseau’s ‘Social Contract’ in which constituents give up their will for ‘a sovereign’. Where the sovereign is not any individual in office, but the society. Rousseau calls the sovereign ‘a Collective Being’. While scholars may see this differently, it suites a clear interpretation of democracy in the context of this article. This is because people choose who wears the cap of the sovereignty while they are collectively the sovereign.
On 25th February, 2023 Nigerians across the country exercised the prima facie duty of every patriot – voting. The chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) assured the people of a credible election. The introduction of BVAS and the 2022 electoral act were instruments of hope. Also the amount of money that was invested in the process were further convictions. Beyond the prima facie duty of a patriot, Nigerians trusted INEC to live up to its words. Hence, INEC recorded an increase in the number of registered voters. For instance, there were 93.46million registered voters by January 11, 2023.
THE COMMON MAN & THE ELECTION DAY
The nature of democracy gives room for checks and balances which promotes the maintenance of order in the society. Also, to ensure that the will of the people is upheld; the rule of law exists. These checks and balances translated to the three arms of government in Nigeria. More so, it speaks of their independence in their execution of duties. Ipso facto patriots can go about their duties without fear of the enemies of the state. Each individual is a common man relying on the people’s government.
The election day
During the elections, the press and the news media updated Nigerians on the situation of things per environment. INEC through its chairman Prof. Yakubu Mahmood announced that accreditation and voting will begin at 8:00am and end at 2:00pm. INEC showed up late in some polling units yet Nigerians were punctual, they waited, voted, and the common man recorded his chronicles. In some places, the Nigeria Police Force turned a blind eye to the thugs that bullied and intimidated people. Voters became casualties, as the police bit fingers that feed them (of course the people’s tax pay their salaries). Individuals like Mrs. Bina Jennifer Efidi was stabbed as she stood to defend her democracy and that of many Nigerians. Social media was flooded with videos of corps members who were terribly injured for not compromising. People died for going to vote or attempting to uphold the right results. People were martyred for democracy. The common man was hopeful that the pains and labour will not be in vain.
WHAT IS THE HOPE OF THE COMMON MAN?
During collation, the INEC chairman addressed the nation and Nigerians watched with hope until party agents complained. Prof. Mahmood Yakubu told party agents to direct their observations to the court. A plot twist Nigerians did not envisage. Continuing the collations was really audacious, such despicable negligence! As though that was not enough, Mahmood declared a winner at 4am of March 1, 2023. While Nigerians dozed under the breeze of the early morning after a long night wait.
In Igbo language, professor translates to ‘oka mmuta akwukwo’ which means ‘the most learned of a subject’. Now the formal education issues certificates that a student has done well in character and learning. This means that professors are custodians of character and learning. How is it that Prof. Mahmood Yakubu did not act by the books? Did he resume collation leaving his professorship at the library or in his car?
The basic duty of a citizen begins with sitting in the electorate. How can a citizen fulfil duty when disenfranchised by the system and thugs? What then is the hope of the common man? Since he cannot choose the hands that will hold his staff of authority where is his democracy? What then should the common man who relies on the rule of law do? Where is the sovereignty of the society? Do we talk about the intimidation from the police? Or the fear of the judiciary failing us?
TIME TO RECLAIM SOVERIGNTY
Rousseau said a civil society is an evil society. This is because it that began with one man claiming ownership of a piece of land while others watched. Then more people joined and created a society to protect themselves. Well, there is no factual story for the beginning of private ownerships. Like many countries, Nigeria is a civil society and has a social contract which the government is accountable to. Sadly, the Federal Government witnessed the irregularities and said nothing, instead the president congratulated INEC’s president-elect. How can the president of a Federal Republic congratulate a candidate of an election with magnanimous irregularities? Well, the case of the presidential election is in court, and Nigerians are hopeful. They are hopeful that the court will convict the criminals and do justice. Then the power of democracy will be returned to the people.
Today, the democracy of Nigeria is dependent on the court at the moment, and its fabrics are losing strands. Notwithstanding, Nigerians must know that there is no democracy without their sovereignty. A citizen is merely a common man, and democracy is not a game of one man. Therefore the common man must again stand in unity against religious, ethnic, and tribal propagandas. A collective will makes the people stronger. For instance, it is easy to steal the village drum but where will it be played? As individuals, we are all commoners but our sovereignty rests in the unity of our vast majority. This supersedes our ethnicity, religion, social status, and tribes. The robe of sovereignty is the common man’s hope out of this helplessness.
You are a good writer please keep it up
Thank you 🙏
I love this. Keep it up.
Beautiful piece, nice one.
This is beautiful 😍
We want your critique and opinion of the article too.
This is so deep , no doubt we need to wake up as individuals to our realities and take actions to make things right …
Our actions are as important as the pain we feel.
Hmm… Nigeria didn’t fail us… the political leaders did. That’s some deep thought there.
A great Article from a philosopher queen….. I wouldn’t say Nigeria has failed us, because Nigeria is never guilty but rather the political leaders….
Hmm… Nigeria didn’t fail us… the political leaders did. That’s some deep thought there.
These narratives will also allow us as a state to take an introspective look into what we regard as democracy . Certainly western democracy should not be a panacea for governance in such a heterogeneous state as Nigeria . However , it does not justify an unforgivable flawed jamboree masterminded by INEC .
I have read and digested your piece my great thinker, they are beautiful. However, you know the rule, that no objectivity until your work passes the test of criticism. First, how can we separate personal sentiment from your beautiful analysis? Assuming your work is void of prejudices. Election in Nigeria has multiple stakeholders like the electoral commission, federal government-in-power, state governments, security agencies, political parties, citizens, critical service providers and other partners saddled with different obligations and responsibilities. In this arrangement no individual or collective stakeholders’ responsibilities or obligations are mutually exclusive, they are all mutually inclusive because the action of one stakeholder will rub off on another whether negative or positive.
From the foregoing, every stakeholder had their clear mandate and responsibility in the 2023 general election. If we conclude that all these stakeholders conspired against one particular party or candidate, i can clearly tell you that it is illogical to think that way. Like every event and program there are positive and negative in the 2023 election. In this case, the positive outweighed the negative. The reason why some parties stayed in the negative is because they did not get the desired outcome. If you look at the Solomonic wisdom, the woman who demanded the killing of the child lost her baby the previous night. In the 2023 election, over-voting was addressed by BVAS, accreditation and voting time was seamless, there was prompt counting and swift recording of result at the polling units. Largely there was relative peace except in state like Lagos and Rivers state. The low in the election was the iRev which the commission had said there were attacks on their server facility or service failure. This however did not impair the commission from discharging its duties of collating and announcing the results. If you look at the the manual process of Nigerian election, you would see that ordinarily there should not be any problem if all stakeholders keeps their mandate. Example is the case of Adamawa re-run, if it was between two ethnic groups, one would have alleged ethnic victimization. However, it was a clear compromise from a key stakeholder in the election.
In conclusion, there can never be an absolute perfect situation, however we can be better and this would be the responsibility of every stakeholder in the election process. History is not static, we will get better if we consolidate on the wins and correct areas we are not perfect.
This is great!!
I love you look at it too.
Thank you for reading us.