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The heroes of the 2019 elections

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The elections are over or almost over but we all just cannot stop talking about elections. Maybe INEC has infected us with the ‘’inconclusive’’ bug? Despite the obvious sad tales emanating from the 2019 elections, there is a lot that we can be proud of as Nigerians and there are many Nigerians’ we should be proud of. We must salute the courage of certain people whose stories still give us hope that it is not all shame and gloom.

INEC has some brave staff that must be celebrated. These people refused to be compromised and shouted from the roof top even when their lives were threatened, or they were forced to announce wrong results at gunpoint. We must mention Mike Igini, the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Akwa Ibom State, who despite threats and all enticing offers stood his ground and maintained his integrity. This great alumnus of University of Benin and erudite lawyer is quoted as saying: “I have not come here to count money. I only come here to count ballot papers. Those who want me to compromise the process are the ones shouting out there’’. These are the type of people who should be given national awards.

We must celebrate Ayoade Akinnibosun, one of the suspects in the April 5, 2018 bank robberies in Offa, Kwara State. He told a Kwara State High Court a few days ago how the police coerced him to implicate Senate President Bukola Saraki and he refused. Even though the Senate President has lost his re-election bid, Ayoade still stands his ground instead of throwing the Senate President under the bus to buy his freedom. This armed robbery accused on trial surely has lessons to teach Nigerians about gallantry and honour.

We must doff our hats for the late Dr Ferry Gberegbe who was a collation officer in Rivers state. He was shot in the stomach when a police officer from the SARS unit of the Nigerian police sprayed bullets indiscriminately at innocent citizens who tried to resist the subversion of elections by the police officers. Dr Gberegbe died a few days ago in a Port Harcourt hospital. People like him are heroes of our democracy.

The members of the National Youth Service Corp who were used as ad-hoc staff by INEC must be commended. They braved all the inconveniences and the election postponement to serve the country. Some fell into compromise, but majority of them were outstanding in how they discharged their duties.

We must give kudos to the Nigerian social media kings and queens (names too numerous to mention) who in this period have harped on the ills of the electioneering. They have taken on the case of the late Dr Ferry Gberegbe and many others who were killed in cold blood by security operatives. Justice must be done!

We must salute the Commissioner of Police of Kano State who has been acclaimed by citizens to be an officer and a gentleman. CP Wakili Mohammed has endeared himself to Nigerians for simply doing his job and providing a level playing field for elections to hold. Many of his colleagues in other states failed woefully in this regard, but CP Wakili even arrested the Deputy Governor of Kano State in a bid to avert violence.

We must acknowledge the indigenes of Kano State for being exemplary citizens. They have taught Nigerians the art of peaceful coercion by citizens. Watching the videos of the street marching and chanting by the voters in Kano was a great sight to behold. As we speak the indigenes of Kano have now organized themselves into independent election monitors to man and protect their votes using human herds during the upcoming reruns.

We must recognize many candidates who fought a good fight. Many lost elections but started a movement and made a point that elections are about the people and not about a godfather or favourite political party. One person in this category that is worthy of mention is a well-known entertainer and actor Bankole Wellington (Banky W) who ran for House of Representatives in Lagos State. This first timer in politics joined a new political party – Modern Democratic Party – and ran a great campaign which paid off with a great support from voters from all cadres.

Banky W’s campaign posters were defaced in some parts of Lagos but he was not discouraged. At the end of the election Banky W tweeted: ‘’Soooo grateful for everyone who has believed in our movement to give us a chance.We have worked. We are top 3, and we earned every single vote we got. We will sustain the momentum and continue building this movement. We are not finished, we’re just getting started’’.He lost the election, but he started a movement.

Can you imagine how the 2019 elections would have been if the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) stayed comatose as predicted by many pundits? We must applaud the PDP led by its energetic Chairman Uche Secondus.PDP did not only wake up from slumber, they ran a good issues-based campaign, their primaries and rallies were adjudged to be the best amongst all the parties. They surely gave Nigerians a veritable option and came to the table with renewed potency.

The greatest applause goes to the Nigerian voters. The 2019 election is perhaps one of the worse elections in terms of logistical hardships for voters. INEC designed the elections to make everything difficult for the voters.Voter registration was a nightmare, collecting your Permanent Voters Card was a bad dream and the voting process was tedious. Then the postponement came at the oddest time and voters were brow beaten. As if this was not enough, INEC’s world record in the number of reruns and inconclusive elections has given INEC a final badge of distinction as the most voter unfriendly election umpire anywhere in the world. Despite the frustrations, the Nigerian voters braved all the hurdles and came out to vote. All Nigerian voters deserve a resounding applause!! God bless Nigeria!

 

Ayuli Jemide

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