This is an opinion piece written after the 2015 primaries held in Delta State, in reflection of the corruption that takes place during elections and the indifference of the masses to the electoral process. A timely meditation in light of the 2019 elections. Enjoy.
I reserve my passion for a few things that matter most to me: one of which is my country. So, while I may not be a card-carrying, branded Ankara wrapper clad woman who attends every rally, I follow the political process with great interest.
In my neck of the woods, way down in the Delta area of Nigeria, I had quite a few close friends who were involved in the primaries that ‘threw up’ the final gladiators in this year’s elections. One of them is very close to me and for the first time I got to see, first hand, the amount of time, talking, meeting, trusting, more talking, promising and reneging that goes on in our political space.
I may not be directly involved but I am very concerned about the type of country I live in and what we hand over to our future generations, so I try to pitch my camp without bias and with an eye to who will do the greater good for our country. And in my very unbiased opinion, my friend was the best candidate for the national legislative position she was vying for. She is uber intelligent, smart, articulate, thoughtful, had a great, plan of action that was progressive and practical, able to cope with the punishing meeting and campaign schedule and she had the ear of the political party-or so we all thought. She lost at the primaries level. To another woman!
Winning and losing are all natural parts of life and while I didn’t really mind that she lost, what irked me was the reason she lost. The powers that be wanted to kill two birds with a single pebble: put a woman in the fray and be seen as gender friendly, but put in the one you could control- a placeholder.
Did I already say my friend is very intelligent and thoughtful? Well, she couldn’t be any one’s placeholder. In the eyes of the puppet masters, she would not toe the party line and give up her place to a current party kingmaker who would be ready to throw his hat into the ring by 2019.
2019! What about today? What happens to us all while people who are more interested in pork barrel deals and obeying their ‘masters’ make rules that will affect our lives? Is there any place in our political space for good, focused women who have the imagination and ability to re-imagine and rebuild our future?
Nigeria must grow. We must move forward. We need to because the alternative is terrifying. So today, it’s my friend; tomorrow it may be your friend or your sister or cousin or spouse. We need to get interested and involved. Get a registration card. Engage the political gladiators in our areas. Ask the difficult, pebble in the shoe kinds of questions that make people think. Be a delegate at party primaries. Vote.
Culled from TW Magazine, February 2015 edition