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‘Emi Lokan, Awa Lokan’ and the discontents

 By Reuben Abati

“Bros, how body? Have you seen what I have seen?”

 

“No. How do you expect me to see what you have seen when my
eyes are different from yours? I use my own eyes. The evidence of my ocular
facility, not what other people see in a country where most people are either
depressed, half-blind, hungry or sick. Every man for himself or herself.”

 

“Ok. Ok, if you would just allow me to talk. You always
think you know it all. But there are certain things other people see, and hear
that you may not be aware of.”

 

“Okay. What? I am all ears”

 

 “Can you believe that
in Pakistan, one man who was declared winner of an election in Karachi,
Pakistan, in the recent elections in that country on February 8, turned down
the victory, and said he was not the rightful winner of the election because it
was rigged? Hafiz Naeem of the Jamaat-e-Islami Party insisted that the votes of
his opponent were reduced and his increased to give him an illegitimate
victory. He says he disagrees.”

 

“Don’t believe everything you read on the internet,
particularly when it comes to elections. Democracy is under threat universally.
This year alone, there are more than 64 elections worldwide, including the ones
that have taken place already and the ones to come, and the big threat is
technology. People will use technology to manipulate anything – especially
Artificial Intelligence (AI) to misinform, disinform, mislead and do all kinds
of things. When you get any piece of information, you have to double-check.
Technology has become a threat to democracy. And the Pakistan that you
mentioned. Pakistan is a country of very corrupt leaders, both civilian and
military and that is why they are finding it difficult to form a government
after the recent general elections.”

 

“But when we see what looks like a good example from another
part of the world, we should throw it up as a good example.”

 

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“I don’t get your point.”

 

“I am saying that is it ever possible in Nigeria that a
politician will reject his own declared victory because the election was rigged
in his favour?”

 

“I don’t want you to think that anybody in Pakistan is
better than any other person in Nigeria. I ask you to check the story behind
the story before you begin to put down your own country and your people.”

 

“Whatever the story behind the story is, I can bet that no
Nigerian will ever give up an election victory because an election was rigged
in his or her favour. In this country, politicians would rather win by hook or
crook. Win first and let others be the ones to complain. Rig. Steal. Grab the
INEC certificate and let the aggrieved go to court. There is zero integrity in
Nigerian politics. Politicians are no different from bandits, terrorists
insurgents, and kidnappers. Every electoral event is a kidnapping event. They
kidnap the process, the voters, the officials, and the results.”

 

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“Calm down. Stop condemning what you don’t know. Are you a
politician? You will just read one or two sensational stories on social media,
and Google and you will start sounding like an expert. Armchair expertise is
the biggest problem we have with public affairs analysis in this country, and I
see that it is becoming a very attractive and profitable enterprise. Can people
learn to be humble?”

 

“You always like to water things down. Somebody will be
going North; you will just take the conversation to the South. Okay, forget
about Pakistan. Think of what happened in Edo state last weekend when after the
All-Progressives’ Congress (APC) conducted its party primaries for the
September 2024 race for Osadebey House, four different persons were declared
winners. Nigeria’s ruling party could not organise its own primaries. Ballot
boxes were snatched. Journalists were attacked. There was vote rigging and open
violence. As of this moment, all the gladiators and their supporters are
claiming victory, trading blame and threatening that there would be more
recriminations.”

 

“The matter will still be resolved. The gladiators will
cancel themselves out. Those who can be bought will collect cash and agree to
shut up. Whoever proves stubborn will be reminded that whatever the party
decides at the end of the day is supreme and binding. You are referencing one
politician in Pakistan, don’t be surprised if, at the end of the day, a member
of the Edo APC Gubernatorial race comes forward and says he, as a loyal party
man has agreed to respect the decision of the party and that he would rather
support a former opponent. Politicians are the same everywhere. You should know
the story before you conclude.”

 

“But my point still stands. No Nigerian politician who has
been declared winner, would on his own, on moral grounds, reject the victory.
He will cling to it.”

 

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“So, what is the moral of this Paki story?”

 

“That politicians must have integrity. And I don’t know what
is wrong with them in Edo APC. They have disgraced their party. They are
disgracing the ruling party at the centre.”

 

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“Calm down. They are not alone. The PDP is also disgracing
itself in Edo State.”

 

“I hear Governor Godwin Obaseki is the problem in Edo PDP.
They say he is the one who wants to determine single-handedly who succeeds
him.”

 

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“They say, they say… but the man himself has not said
anything.”

 

“They say he wants to turn himself into the next godfather
of Edo state. He wants to choose and impose his successor. I am afraid that
when the EDO PDP organise their primaries, this week, the chaos may be more
than what we have seen in the APC.”

 

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‘Dem say. Dem say. The only thing I know is that he has made
it clear that his deputy, Philip Shaibu who has been disrespecting and
insulting him will not be governor after him. It looks like that is his
singular project, and the way he looks and even grunts when Shaibu tries to
greet him in public, it looks like stopping Shaibu is a do-or-die affair for
him.”

 

“But is that politics? Should people play the politics of
hate and conflict?”

 

“You will have to mount the pulpit in a church to raise such
questions, and you may do so to your heart’s content until you realise that the
politics in churches and mosques is even far worse than what you see on the
open field. The do-or-die politics in Nigerian places of religious worship is
enough to make God wonder why he created Nigerians”.

 

“I understand that even the Labour Party in Edo state is
divided. What is wrong with these Edo people?”

 

“Be careful. Nothing is wrong with the Edo people. Watch
what you say before the Oba of Benin declares you are an enemy of the Palace.”

 

“Oba gha to kpere. Ise!, Ise o, Ise o”

 

“The Nigerian politician is the problem, that is what you
can say. Our politicians have not learnt any lessons, despite all the electoral
reforms resulting in the Electoral Act 2022. They don’t care. They are still snatching
ballot papers and deploying violence. What we are seeing in the off-cycle
elections is a dress rehearsal for the 2027 elections.”

 

“Are you now a prophet?”

 

“No. But I can tell you that I am better than all those
Nigerian prophets who predicted that Nigeria was going to win the top prize at
the African Cup of Nations in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. The prophets lied. No one
could even predict the outcome of the final game. But tomorrow, the same
prophets will claim to know, and Nigerians will believe them. Yahoo prophets!
Some of them told us the Labour Party would be the alternative party in 2023.
Look at what is happening to the Labour Party, not just in Edo State, but even
at the national level.”

 

“I agree with you on this one. A big scandal. A terrible
disappointment. This is a party that Mr. Peter Obi practically built up,
revived and turned into a platform of desire, with his energy, goodwill and
resources. He galvanised and mobilized Nigerian youths to believe that a new,
different Nigeria is possible and many bought into the vision: “Obi ke ke renke
Obi, Obi Nwan nem… Elu uuu Pee”. Remember the Obidient Movement. They told us
to be Obidient and Yusful. But look at the Labour Party today. It has been
reduced to Julius Abure vs. Lamidi Apapa, and Julius Abure vs Oluchi Oparah. I
even hear they are looking for money. They are fighting over money. Please tell
me, how are they different from APC and PDP?”

 

“The parties are all the same. But you left out Maria Labeke
vs. Julius Abure. The former acting chairman of the Party, Maria Labeke says
Abure forged her signature. Poor Peter Obi. He has had to call for a proper
audit of the party’s accounts.”

 

“It probably looks like the APC is a better party after all.
At least they are in power at the centre.”

 

“How is the APC better? In less than one year of the Tinubu
presidency, Nigerians are groaning and weeping and gnashing their teeth as a
result of the high cost of living. Average price levels have risen. Families
can no longer feed. Inflation is 30%, food inflation is over 34%, and the
Discos are threatening to increase electricity tariffs and the cost of meters.
National Road Transport owners are threatening to stop lifting petroleum
products because they can’t agree on affordable freight rates with major oil marketers.
Landlords are hiking rent. Foreign exchange is a source of daily nightmare with
the Naira devalued by more than 60% since January. If I must tell you
something, housewives, side chicks and prostitutes have all conspired to punish
Nigerian men. They all now quote black market rates. These people have
destroyed the culture of leisure”.

 

“I don’t know what you call leisure. Leisure is different
from sin. When you are made to pay for your sins, don’t drag the government
into that.”

 

“So, is it a sin to be a Nigerian? Because that is how many
Nigerians feel right now. Even the price of beer has gone up.”

 

“You don’t have to drink beer. Drink water.”

 

“The last time I checked, this is supposed to be a free
country. But there are food protests all over the country. The cost of staple
foods has gone up. People cannot afford to buy bread. The other day in Lagos,
people were struggling to buy subsidized loaves of bread for N100. Another day,
a good Samaritan provided free tubers of yam, people were ready to die to get
their hands on just one tuber. In Niger state, the state governor has had to
warn other Nigerians not to come to Niger state to buy food.”

 

“The federal government says it will release 102, 000 metric
tons of grains to Nigerians.”

 

“Grains to be fed to goats and hungry chickens right?
Nigerians have become animals?”

 

“But the government will not import food. They wanted to,
but they have changed their minds.”

 

“Confusion. Policy incoherence.”

 

“And there will be no commodity boards. No fixing of
prices.”

 

“They have no clue”

 

“They say the problems they inherited are too many, too much
and the people should learn to be patient, especially Organized Labour, NLC,
TUC, threatening to go on strike by month-end.”

 

“I have my doubts about those, please. Nigerians must be
used to the perpetual scare-mongering by Labour now. They will hold one or two
meetings with the government, and they will call off their strike and our
suffering will continue. Please.”

 

“The Government says you people must have hope. Every person
associated with the government, including Tinubu’s son, Seyi says Nigerians
must have faith”

 

“Who is that?”

 

“Tinubu’s son. He says Nigerians must endure.”

 

“Seyi Tinubu has the audacity to put his mouth into this
matter? Does he think this is a family affair? What does he know about
endurance? Can he just focus on his omo Baba Olowo, akebaje, lifestyle?”

 

“Even his brother-in-law has been appointed Managing
Director of the Federal Housing Authority. And the sister, the Iyaloja-General
of the Federation, says we should all be patient. The President is trying his
best to carry everybody along.”

 

“God! God! God!”

 

“Indeed, it is only God who can help us. In Borno State,
Governor Babagana Zulum has asked the entire state to embark on fasting and
praying and to call on God to help resolve the crisis of rising food inflation
and insecurity. Yesterday, in Borno state, the people fasted and prayed. O ye
men of little faith.”

 

“We have a government in place and we are looking for Manna
from Heaven? In 2024? Can someone please pinch me?”

 

“The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Yemi Cardoso,
and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, George Akume have just
told doubting Thomases like you at the Catholic Bishops Conference a few days
ago that there is hope. Serious hope. Wake up, my friend.”

 

“Audio, my brother audio oh. Where is the hope? The Naira is
practically becoming worthless. Who is still preaching hope to the Gentiles?”

 

“The CBN Governor said that the economic reforms introduced
by the Tinubu administration are working and that if Nigerians do not see this,
the IMF has seen it. Rating agencies like Fitch have seen it.”

 

“Very good. Good to know that our CBN Governor is suggesting
that Nigerians are blind people. Nice compliment. But can someone tell him and
other merchants of hope that, we, the Nigerian people do not see what IMF is
seeing? We live here. We feel it. We are the ones involved in it. And we know
that things are tough in this country. Life is hard. That is why there are food
protests on the streets of Abuja, Ota, Kano, Kaduna and Ibadan.”

 

“They say the problems were caused by the Buhari
administration.”

 

“Not Jonathan again? I thought they said it was Jonathan.”

 

“President Jonathan is now a hero. When he left the
government in 2015, the foreign exchange rate was N150 to the dollar. Today, it
is about N1,650 to the dollar. By Easter, it may get to N2,000 to the dollar.
Even state governors are now saying they cannot function, they cannot deliver
services because of inflation and the exchange rate fiasco.”

 

“You are quoting PDP Governors who are looking for visas to
Venezuela. They are part of the problem too”.

 

“So, from whence will our help cometh, O Lord??”

 

“In a democracy, what you wish for is what you get. Have you
forgotten? Emi lokan. Awa lo kan. Eyin lo kan. Come on, e lo fokan bale.”

 

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