A friend shared an analogy with me this week. He said the average Nigerian politician is like a student preparing for exam; you have read to your best, and are confident that you will pass the exam. When your friends ask you before the exam how you are feeling, you tell them “e lo f’okan bale” — you tell them to calm down.
But on exam day, you still cheat to pass the exam simply because you don’t want to leave anything to chance. And that is the genesis of our problems.
We may come back to this analogy later — or not. But I got into some self-reflection this week, and I thought to share. I do not believe Peter Obi, the candidate of the Labour Party, won the 2023 presidential election. The evidence simply does not support it. The sense, I however get, is that the Obidients are also not saying he won, they are just saying the process was not free and fair, so whoever won cannot be said to have won a credible election.
This was my position for the longest. Until I decided to get into conversation with some Obidients in my network. These people would swear that Obi won the elections — and it was not even close. They believe Tinubu rigged the election blindly. To garnish their thoughts, they said Tinubu “let go” of Lagos state at the presidential election to bring some credibility to his overall win.
What about FCT, could he not have rigged to get the famous 25%? I asked. Their response was that Abuja was “unriggable”. There was nothing I could say, no amount of data could convince them. To make matters worse, there were more pre-election opinion polls in 2022/2023 than we had ever seen in the history of this country, and they overwhelmingly predicted an Obi win.
So what if we are wrong?
At the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, I learnt a new level critical writing. The biggest takeaway from that module was understanding that your writing could be blind and self-defeating, if you are not your own fiercest critic. In line with this thought, I have asked myself; what if I am wrong about Peter Obi not winning the election? What if Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was the winner? What if Tinubu rigged most of the states he won, as we are made to believe? Or what if nobody won, and the actual results would necessitate a re-run?
I found that I was open to all these scenarios because I have no allegiance to any political party of politician. I have no gods among them. So, I’d like to ask you, as a BATist or Obidient, have you ever considered if your position was wrong? What would you do? Would you admit? Can you even stomach the thought that Tinubu did not win? That Obi did not win? That Atiku was out of question?
I reckon that if you are not ready for such admission, you may not be approaching this matter logically. I fear that you have a god among them.
It’s the hope that kills
In 2012, Manchester United and Manchester City were fighting so hard for the English Premier League Title. As at the last game, they any of them could still win the league. It was expected to be harder for City because they were playing Queen Park Rangers (QPR), who were 17th on the league table and needed that game to beat relegation.
For 90 minutes, Manchester United fans like me, hoped that this would end in a draw. In less than 30 seconds to the end of the game, Kun Aguero scored for City, and won City’s first Premier League title ever. This was the beginning of City’s Dominance, that has now lasted more than a decade.
The hope, which eventually failed, devastated Manchester United. Hope is great — I do not speak of renewed hope — but it is also the hope that kills. On Wednesday, the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) will give its judgement on who won or lost the election.
Many young Nigerians are hopeful that like Manchester City, this may be winning something that has never been won before. Older Nigerians, who have a history of “nobody has ever won at presidential tribunal” feel nothing new will come out of the tribunal. People like Femi Falana, the legal luminary, has said the tribunal decision is not final.
Here is my call to every Nigerian reading this; be calm, manage your expectations, and prepare you mind for an outcome that may not favour your candidate. Those calls for a coup d’etat if certain candidates do not win at the tribunal are largely unnecessary. The military has never solved any nation’s economic and development problems.
Ultimately, can you stomach that your god did not win?