When I officially declared my intention to run for Senate, one of the highest positions in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, for the sole purpose of enriching the lives of my people (as I have done actively for the past 3 decades of my life both locally and in the diaspora) the recurrent questions on most people’s mind were: why leave your comfort zone in Germany to run for public office in Nigeria where elections are historically rigged, marred by violent thugs and the votes of the electorate never count.
My answer has been: times have changed & our votes will count this time. Moreover, I have something to offer my people, a servant – senator that can successfully harness Anioma’s diversity and rich cultural heritage nationally and globally. More importantly, I ran for office because we have fought and achieved significant electoral reform backed by new voting technology.
But, like many Nigerians, I was dead wrong. We seriously underestimated the power of morally bankrupt institutions and the resolve of corrupt elitist individuals to wreak havoc and subvert the collective will of millions of Nigerians for the interest of a select few.
While we jubilated at the dawn of a new era, President Olusegun Obasanjo gave the first damning conclusion long before it became clear to many observers that something sinister was about to unravel, with a stern cry that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) led by Professor Mahmood Yakubu, had been compromised through financial inducement, hence truncating the hopes of millions of Nigeria (many of them first-time voters) who believed that a free and fair election was possible in Nigeria.
Nigerians amid unprecedented socio-economic misery, exacerbated by widespread insecurity and worsened by fuel & naira note scarcity, trooped out en massé to participate in an election by all standards, characterized by many uncommon phenomena.
Nigerians in Diaspora, a constituency that technically oversubscribed $300 Million Nigeria’s Diaspora Bond by 130% and remitted over $65.34 billion in just three years, representing an average of four percent [4%] of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to boost economic activities in the country, were not left out. Although the political elite conspired to deny Diaspora Voting Rights, they could not stop most Diaspora from direct political participation. Those who could not join boots on the ground mobilized their resources and knowledge to set aside decades of political nightmares, and bad governance & resulting in voter apathy to join hands with elders, frustrated youths, and an army of third force supporters, mobilizing on all fronts for this mother of elections. This led to unprecedented voter excitement and massive turnout to retire a generation of overrated, over-recycled politicians and usher in a new national and political conscience In Nigeria.
This excitement and audacity of hope were predicated on months and weeks of private and public assurances by the electoral umpires headed by Professor Mahmood Yakubu, that INEC would deliver free and fair elections. Many were deceived by his assurances, premised on the new electoral law and the deployment of Biometric Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) technology that mandated real live transmission of election results from the polling units as outlined by INEC guidelines.
Like many Nigerians, I woke up to the rude shock that to win an election in Nigeria, one would not only have to defeat your co-contestants, but most regrettably, one must also defeat the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) currently led by Professor Mahmood Yakubu and his financial inducers deploying all manner of tricks, including disenfranchising voters by damaging or disposing of thousands of PVCs, doctored results in polling units where elections did not hold, zero uploads of results using BVAS and more, just to circumvent the electoral process. Sadly, we all fell for the scam of a generation.
Another lost opportunity, another broken dream, another promise unfulfilled.
A great fellow Malabite, Sam Amadi, Ph.D., The director of the Abuja School of Social and Political Thoughts summarised our lost opportunity in a sentence: “With one masterstroke, INEC dismantled the entire transparency and accountability framework for the election”.
Perhaps ironically, the corrupt institutions & individuals who subverted the collective will of millions of Nigerians for the interest of a selected few have murdered sleep & can no longer sleep comfortably with both eyes closed. The genie is out of the bottle and Nigerians irrespective of tribe and tongue are out, able, capable, and willing to take their country back. Let us not disintegrate now into political thin lines.
Aisha Yesufu, a vocal supporter of the Labour Party, endorsed a different Party Gubernatorial candidate that she perceives as progressive and credible. She rejected partisanship over competence. “God forbid I become what I want to change. I can never sacrifice competence for partisanship”, she tweeted, further demonstrating an ideal example of how to win this war of morals and values. Obi-Datti is a movement that has come to stay and must be viewed outside if we must win this battle.
Like Mandela quipped, It appears that there still remains a long walk to true democratic freedom for Nigeria.
Where to, beloved Nigeria
Kenneth Chibuogwu Gbandi is the Deputy National Chairman (Diaspora Engagement) African Democratic Congress (ADC), 2023 Senate candidate for Delta North, Nigeria’s first-ever legislator in the Hamburg Senate (Advisory Council) & longest-serving Chairman of Nigerians in Diaspora Professional Group (NIDO Europe) that representing the internet of over 6 million Nigerians in Diaspora. He is also the convener of Nigerians in Diaspora Shadow Ministers [DSM] an inter-Party political watchdog.