The tricks played on people on April Fool's day can't be more than the one played on unsuspecting Nigerians on April 2 with an issue as serious as our elections. Just as the seemingly careful ones among us exercised our shrewdness and thought that we have manoeuvred any possibility of becoming victims of this year's version, ours came in a bigger, more surprising and unfortunate package -election cancellation and deferment.
Reminiscing about the event, I had no choice than to give my voice to the same issue Nigerians complained about. ' Shocking!' looks like an understatement for describing the news of the cancellation and deferment of the NASS elections slated for April 2, owing to the seeminly serious preparations, legislative and financial demands of the Jega-led INEC, not to talk of the vast human resource available to them. Nigerians questioned again, Jega's radicalism and the preparedness of INEC in giving Nigerians the much anticipated credible 2011 elections.
What really happened? It was not enough to quickly concoct and broadcast a defence mantra inundated with flimsy excuses, together with cock and bull stories. What was Jega doing? What was he thinking? Did he expect us to swallow his excuses hook, line and sinker? Evidently, Nigerians were disappointed with the inept display of INEC; their first impression was actually a very bad one.
Though INEC was to be shown some 'respect', knowing that once in a while, such unwanted, unforeseen event may raise its head, the place of communication was grossly neglected by the independent body. Jega knew that the electoral materials were likely not to be ready before the polls but preferred to live in a fool's paradise, giving Nigerians fake hope and leaving them in the dark, an act that reflected his lack of respect for Nigerians and his questionable integrity.
I wondered whether Jega has become insensitive and less concerned for his assignment; he allowed voters to move out to the polling units, delayed, only to finally get the news of the cancellation. I believe that we are picking ourselves out of that mess and trauma to make ourselves available to exercise our power- our votes.
There seemed to be a level of fickleness in the camp of INEC as the electoral body shifted the election to Monday, the 4th day of April and subsequently to Saturday, the 9th day of the same month, thus affecting the former dates for the presidential and governorship elections which are now to hold on 16th and 26th respectively.
It is no gainsaying that the deferment negatively affected our numerous sectors and economy, as there were uncertainties in many areas and business places, thus paralysing normal activities in almost all the nation's sectors.
We preferred South Africa to Nigeria for the printing of the so-called sensitive electoral materials that are supposed to be for our own elections. It is high time we trusted ourselves, told ourselves the whole truth and stopped the madness of patronizing other nations that are not even better than us when compared with our intimidating records, obvious facts and statistics.
Evidently, we are not supposed to be entertaining such news, which are obviously the culmination of the gross neglect of even the minutest detail of our seemingly perfect plan for free, fair and credible elections. Pitiably, we claim to be the giant of Africa with little or nothing to show for it, if not only in the 'crime sector'. We have preferred commotion to order in our political house. We have always seen our nation leading by bad example and at the same time bringing disgrace to Nigerians.
Despite the unflinching support offered by our amiable President and other optimistic Nigerians, we were only made to swim in the tears shed for our aging nation. We are supposed to not just be outstanding in every sector, but to be an intimidating model for others to mimick, owing to our richness, in terms of good brains, money, number and so on.
Actually, we need to come back to our senses, return to the drawing board, in case we have forgotten and wake up to the great task ahead of us, in our quest for a new Nigeria, which requires getting it right at the polls for a start. Our leaders should passionately embrace their duties like never before and stop dilly-dallying, at least to compensate for the respect, honour, power and even the fat salaries they are enjoying.
Sequel to the postponement of the elections, the morale of the enthusiastic electorates came down and needs to be revived again. We do not have any reason to fail and cannot afford to fail. Let us not forget that many eyes, including those of our friends and foes are watching with a high sense of judgement, seeking to know what becomes of us.
Despite the irregularities, violence, explosions and loss of lives that characterised last Saturday's NASS elections, Nigerians should be encouraged to insist on exercising their franchise in the remaining elections. We need to first believe in our ability to achieve our vision of a better Nigeria and at the same time, putting in our best for the needed change.
Jega's INEC should independently desire to do more than manufacturing and giving excuses, knowing fully well that Nigerians are solidly behind them to offer any possible needed support.
Nigerians should on their own encourage INEC. Let us believe that we can get it right because we cannot afford to allow credible elections, the pillar of any thriving democrary to elude us.
Fellow Nigerians, wise up!