By Dr. Borke Okwale.
I have never found voting in Nigerian elections to be worthy of my time. I am one Nigerian who believes that no matter the voting, the unseen powers will always have their way and install whosoever they have endorsed. I do not believe in Nigerian party politics; PDP this, APC that…na the same people! Even while growing up, when Nigeria was more peaceful, I had always nursed this sinister belief that Nigeria would not hold!
Still, I did vote in the 2015 Presidential election which brought General Muhammadu Buhari to power. I voted GMB. So now you know that my vote was in the 5% always referred to by PMB. As non-partisan and apolitical as I was, I campaigned vigorously and voluntarily, as a lone ranger; without pay from GMB inspite of his unpopularity in the SE. My thinking was that another four years of President Goodluck Jonathan would spell doom for Nigeria. I knew GMB was not the messiah but I reckoned that we didn’t really have a choice. The abysmal spiral drift of the country had be stopped!
I discussed, campaigned at cross fire and cross roads with some of my good friends. I told them that under GMB the Naira would appreciate, security would improve, corruption would be tackled head on and the economy would improve and Nigerians will have a breathe of fresh air. At such times, they would look at me as if I was high on a concoction of shekpe and gbana
Whenever GMB was shown on television, my three boys, ages from 3 to 7 years would say things such as; ‘I don’t like that man; I don”t like Buhari, he is wicked!’. I would always correct them . My father thought me not to use strong negative strong on people and I couldn’t fake deafness when my kids used words such as ‘wicked’ to qualify an elder.
The boys always accepted the correction and would apologize. Nevertheless, subsequent pop-ups of GMB on television would still elicit further negative comments from my boys. I got worried and decided to find out why my angels strongly disliked GMB.
Their reasons baffled me. The eldest boy was the first to speak; ‘my friend told me,’ he said,’ that his father told him that if Buhari becomes the President he will kill all of us, that he hates Igbo children, that he is the head of Boko Haram, that is why he is wicked, ruthless and heartless.’ My second boy, Rene quickly added,’ they said that if he becomes President, he will send his army to crush us all if we refuse to be Muslims. Dad, I don’t want to be a Muslim. He is wicked. Dad, I don’t want him to win.’ You can imagine how perplexed, dumbstruck and sad I was at the concern and fear my kids had been living with. I was equally sad and disturbed at the negative indoctrination of my kids against an elder. I told my kids that all they were told were not correct and all was mere politics. I tried to allay their fears and concerns. I told them that GMB was my candidate and that I would vote for him. This had the effect of a thunder bolt on my nine year old daughter, Mena who all this while seemed uninterested in our discussion. ‘Dad! What did you say?’ she exclaimed. ‘I will run away from this country if Buhari becomes President, that wicked man?.’ ‘Dad, I am crying,’ my first son Ruby added. ‘Why would you vote for him? Dad, Please dont vote for him.’ Then I knew I had some real problems in my hand . I was mad. Why would some persons instill in my kids, this level of apprehension and dislike for GMB?
I used the remaining weeks and months leading up to the elections to explain to the kids that it was all bitter politics; that Buhari was not Boko Haram, he will not kill Igbo children, he will not spread Muslim theocracy to the South East neither would he send his army to crush us. I even had to conduct a mock Presidential election with my children. My last two kids Kaima and Rene joined me, after a heavy campaign to vote GMB while Ruby and Mena insisted on and voted GEJ. GMB was declared winner in the real Presidential elections. I was jubilant but couldn’t trek to Abuja; corruption will be fought, security will improve and the economy will flourish. There will be rule of law. We won.
Here we are today, just over two years. Were my friends right? Did I take monkey tail mixed with shekpe when I was making those arguments for GMB? Were my angels right in their views of GMB? Did they have revelations? My angels are still on vacation. They were due back last week. Wifey and I decided to delay their return due to our security concerns in the SE … the same SE the kids warned me about; that GMB would send his army to crush if he became President, same SE they said that children would be killed, same SE they warned will be islamized… the same President they begged me not to vote for. Did I fail my children?
Their school has resumed and they keep reminding me that it is time to be back in school. Did I lie to them when they were expressing their fears, reservations and concerns about GMB? Do I lie to them now? What do I tell them is the reason why they can not return yet? Will they blame me for not listening to them and voting the way I did? Will they listen to me when next I have a contrary view to theirs?
The only places my angels had seen pythons were on DSTV (NatGeo Wild) and physically in Jumeira Zoo Dubai and Bronx Zoo New York and in all those cases, the pythons were not dancing. For them to return and see dancing pythons in their backyard will require me explaining to them the long held view by some people that Nigeria was one big zoo where pythons dance, anacondas smile, vipers sing and cobras smile. With the pythons dancing in the South East and the quit notice to the people in the North, they are not returning anytime soon.