BY OGBENI LA

Goodluck Jonathan scored an own goal, & handed victory to Buhari. That was a little less than four years ago. From the look of things, Buhari might also present victory to Atiku, on a plater. Shudder all you want, but the telltale signs are resurfacing. Over 3 Trillion spent in 3 years, but not a single new school built. 13.2 million children are out of education; that is almost 3 million increase in three years. And wait for it, that’s the highest anywhere in the world! As if that is not depressing enough, Nigeria overtook India as the poverty capital of the world under this same administration. These kind of shameful statistics confound you on a daily basis,and when election comes around, it is easy to accept anybody but the present occupier of Aso rock, who looks at best clueless and at worst, lifeless.

Now this brings a feeling of de ja vu. In 2015, President Goodwick Ebele Jonathan was so rudderless, it provoked some known and respected intellectuals to swear they’d vote his challenger, Muhammad Buhari even if the latter presents a NEPA (Utility) bill as certificate. They weren’t kidding! The same set of people turned logic on its head to defend same certificate-less Buhari when he decided not to attend the organised Presidential debate preceeding the general election.

Few hours to the Convention of the leading opposition party in Nigeria (PDP) that produced former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, I heard with my own ears some people saying even if the convention produces the gate man of the venue where it is held, they’d vote for him over the incumbent in 2019. This is worrisome. I feel Buhari has underperformed and I do not begrudge Atiku, but the present trend of wanting anybody but the incumbent is a direct indictment on the process that throws up these “Between The Devil & Blue Sea” scenario we perennially find ourselves as electorates.

Attention and searchlight must be thrown at the process leading to our elections. The system is flawed from primary stages, but unfortunately our people don’t catch up until election frenzy is everywhere. From basic preparation like registering and collection of voters card, a fair prediction of the outcome of the election can be glimpsed. I had to register for my voters card sometimes last month after I misplaced the first one. I got to the venue around 7am so that I can quickly register and still make office in good time. To my chagrin, I met a handful of people already on the queue. They were putting their names down and I found myself in a distant one hundred and something… This was 7 in the morning! But the gist is that when the INEC officials finally arrived at 8 am, after almost an hour of productive time wasted, the smartest of us began donating #1000 to boycott the list. Personally, I registered before the hundred and something before me.

The experience left me wondering. How do you convince a hungry man to part with his hard earned money just to register and collect his voters card and still expect him not to bargain with it on election day? You’d be expecting too much from such man. That’s part of our dilemma. If you expect me to still pay to exercise my civic right or responsibility, then you shouldn’t expect less when i begin to transact with my civic rights and responsibilities. The masses still suffer the fall out, but this our reality. If it is not addressed, we won’t get it right.

From registration of voters card to collection, to the process of determining eventual party flag bearers, to source of campaign funds etc, we should stop waiting till we are left with poor choices before becoming conscious.We still have a long way to go in this country and until our intellectuals stop degenerating themselves to the level of political lackeys, all hope might be lost.

Until stupid laws and conventions that allow an old man aspiring to be the number one citizen of the country to contest without a post secondary school certificate, yet disallows a young man aspiring to eke out a decent living from earning basic income without a bachelor’s degree, our emancipation might be a mere mirage.

Until the most viable political platforms in the country consciously erect structures that would enable the most competent and not most ‘dollarful’ candidates emerge, we shall be swimming in the College fusion of poor electoral choices for a long time to come.

Until we stop waiting for election period to begin our clamour for the sanitisation of the process, we shall keep getting either Atiku or Buhari regardless of how many Sowores and Moghalus offering themselves for the top job.