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Funmi Iyanda
Lagos, Nigeria
Funmi Iyanda is a multi award-winning producer and broadcast journalist. She is the CEO of Ignite Media and Executive Director of Creation Television
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Monday, April 23, 2007

Power From The People

So l sit here this morning pensive, it took all of 3 minutes for me to
cast my vote on Saturday, 3 minutes. The week before l had stood in
line in the sun for two hours, hat and sunglasses firmly on, large
bottle of water in hand as resolutely determined as most of my fellow
country men to cast my vote. This weekend, the polling booth was a
ghost town, my people had lost hope, l voted and left, because l had
an access car, l had observed proceeding from the Alimosho area,
through Agege, Ikeja, to Maryland and the apathy was palpable. The
streets were empty as boys took to the highway playing football. Close
monitoring of news reports (galaxy TV was commendable) all day showed
that this was the situation nationwide along with late or non arrival
of ballot material and the usual ballot snatching/ stuffing,
harassment and intimidation.

I am therefore in a bit of confusion as to how the high numbers that have and are coming in have been achieved. In the past hour l have read most of today's headlines and top stories online and the most unsettling are the foreign ones. Unsettling because one is forced to see one's self and nation through the eye of the outsider and we look like all those little malfunctioning nations (some pre war) that one reads about with a mixture of pity, disrespect and alarm. Just read this report as an example. 2003 elections set a bad precedence that smoothened the path for the perpetuation of such temerity as we are witnessing. It is as though Nigerians are being told to do our worst by those who know that our worst is to sigh, complain and leave them to God.


Anonymous said...

Funmi I read the Independent article. You know I sit here and I just wonder what's next for us, really. I try to be positive by thinking it really could be a lot worse, at least Nigeria has not (in recent years) been plunged into war and chaos like a lot of our African sister countries. That said, I also know there have been close calls. I try to remind myself that God has not forgotten us and I try to just keep believing, praying and hoping. It seems to be the only alternative (for me) to sighing and complaining. I admit I am guilty of leaving it all to God.

UnNaked Soul said...

sad thing yea... like you said "...our worst is to sigh, complain and leave them to God" and they know this...

Warning: Time is a silent serial killer...

Cheetarah said...

Im not sure there was a point to voting as our president had already been ordained. But at least he fixed katsina so fingers crossed he will fix naija,we must acept our portion as the umbrella has insisted that it will protect us from the rain for another 4years.Cheers

Anonymous said...

Check this link out: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1613615,00.html

Nothing about this 'Selection'last saturday phased me...I knew it would happen, its sad....

Toksboy said...

Funmi thanks for your observations but I beg to disagree. I am very wary of all these foreign observers and their claims of irregularities etc. We all know, and expected , that there would be shenanigans along the way. If people chose not to exercise their right to vote surely that in itself is part of being in a democracy? The right to choose? Nigeria is on a journey. This is part of the journey.

The expectation was that there would be massive violence and widespread loss of lives. That did not happen. Is this not something to be commended?

The US & UK can cry foul all they like but I am sure their Ambassadors will be in Aso rock the day after the coronation to ensure that their interests are maintained. And who gives them the right to judge us anyway? What is the voter turnout in the UK? Are there no voting irregularities in the US?

I am sick of the meddling. The election is over. A winner declared. Let's move on to building the country. The opposition have four years to gather evidence against the newly elected government and prepare their battle plans. All part of the democratic process.

Despite all my cynicism about him I was very impressed with Yar Adua's calm demeanour at the press conference yesterday. I was especially impressed with the way he handled the questions from the foreign correspondents who were all fixated with allegations of this and that? Is it that Tony Blair and George Bush's administrations have exemplary records? Or is it not true that they would have set new lows in standards for "democratically" elected governments? Puh leeez.

We have a situation where one democratically elected government has handed over to another. That in my view is progress. Onward and upward. For those trying to give Nigeria a complex and want to continue tarring us with the same old brush to make themselves look superior. Good luck to you.I will not assist you with your objectives.

Viva Nigeria.

uknaija said...

Thanks for the link to the Independent article- after reading it, I saw what you meant about looking through outsider eyes.....everyone seems subdued, but what's the way forward in your opinion?

Unknown said...

I think, it is now left for people to face the crude realities that,when it comes to politics in Africa, what has happened during the last elections cannot be ruled out and Nigeria is not an exemption.

We can only improve upon the electoral system that was left on ground, but destructive will go a long way in denting more further the already battered image of Nigerians political arrangement.

After all, Rome was not built in day. Please let be positive in our remarks.

Anonymous said...

Thank youu Toks-boy. In fact God bless you for your comments. As far as I am concerned these forigners want us to fail.
You know the way people look at Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes or Angelina Jolie and Brad Pit and wish and hope for them to fail so that they can do a happy dance on their graves? That is the way I see these people. At the last Ontario Canadian elections ( I am not sure which area of government it was) There was chaos in Woodbridge. I mean chaos, people were saying that they believed the mafia was going to come into the situation (because apaprently memebers of the Mafia live in Woodbridge) But they had the audacity to call Canadian elections free and fair.

When the Canadian sponsorship scandal broke people's jaws dropped down in shock and then they have the audcaity to say that they practise Democracy and what we do is a sham. Hmmmmm, I just wonder.

They just want us to fail, so that they can pat themselves on the back and say "we told you so, those Africans are worthless" But we no go fail oh. We will hand over to a new democratically elected government and there will be peace and we shall progress

Mo said...

i really dont know what to say? i am not in nigeria but i hear about all these things going on and i get scared. i love nigeria and would love to live there but sometimes its like WHY?

pamela said...

Dont trivialise the very real tragedy some people faced.
People died. I saw through my Nigerian non foreign observer eyes at least 3 dead bodies IN ONE PLACE on NTA and they were not even thugs. They just went to vote. Why on earth would anyone in thier right mind not think twice about voting the next weekend. We are so quick to take cover in the oyinbo hates us umbrella and still turn around and hail someone that chooses to go for dialysis in Germany ruling us. Wake up and smell the akpu or enjoy the corner of your tri colored umbrella in peace.

Anonymous said...

well, what do we expect? For me this hasn't been an election as far as i am concerned. Our leaders just felt like using our heads to play, what can we say? We just have to wait because i strongly believe that God would vindicate us since our good Lord would not give you a cross you can't carry. This is their time, our time would finally come.

Anonymous said...

My take on this issue is that Nigeria masses should blame themselves for all the irresponsible acts been perpetuated upon them by the elite.If u don`t confront an individual who steals from u,at some point he might start believing that u cherish being stolen from and u can`t fault him for having such a believe.So,the solution is in our own hands.We need to tell these people that we have had it up to our neck with their bullshit.

I agree that the west have their own problems with elections as well but having lived in various European countries and US for a total of 17yrs I haven`t seen widespread rigging and killing during elections as was evident in Nigeria.

We need to rid ourselves of selfishness and fight for each others right.

I still believe that the bomb is ticking in nigeria and the ruling class will have themselves to blame when it goes off cos it will go off,it is no longer a question of if but when.

From my perspective obj did some wonderful stuff but I believe his legacy will be this election or non-election if u wish and his childlike fight with Atiku.The election was a complete farce.it never happened and Obj will always be remembered for it.As for Yar`dua,my first instinct is that he is a sincere and an unassuming man but he should n`t have let them rig election in his favor.This is an election he could have won anyway