Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Kelechi Udeogu: We all know what happened in February

The brazen theft of votes, the suppression of voters and the collective disregard for the will of the people is one we should never forget.

• December 24, 2023
Bola Tinubu, Atiku Abubakar, and Peter Obi
Bola Tinubu, Atiku Abubakar, and Peter Obi

An electoral revolution happened in February this year. Nigerians went to the polls in large numbers to decide their fate; they trooped to the polls to tell the political class they were tired and had had enough. 

But the election results tell a different story; the large numbers were not reflected in the results the electoral body announced, and the election was said to have had the lowest voter turnout in recent times. 

Surprise! 

Nigeria never fails to surprise me; it is politricks at its finest. Nigerians went to the polls to decide their future, to show they wanted something different. They went to the polls filled with hope to fight for their loved ones who had suffered or died at the hands of police brutality. 

They went to fight for a different future for their children, who had spent almost one year at home because of an ASUU stand-off with the federal government. Nigerians went to the polls to show solidarity with the health workers who had been striking incessantly to fight for a better health environment and healthcare in their country. 

They went to stand with the Nigerians who were being ethnically cleansed in the Middle Belt; villagers slaughtered in their sleep.

Nigerians voted for Chinelo, whose young life was cut short because bandits have somehow become untouchables and are allowed to roam free, free enough to shoot up a train, kill innocent Nigerians and take as many passengers as they could as hostages. 

They voted for Pelumi, whose only crime was being a young journalist trying to do his job in a country where being a journalist covering an essential story doesn’t guarantee your safety. 

Nigerians voted for Tolulope Arotile, for Oke, for Jimoh for the deaths that they would never get justice for, for the Chijiokes’ they would never get answers for, they went to vote for a country where the lives of their young people mean something. Nigerians voted for the 236 people bombed in an IDP camp in Rann, and the federal government turned their face away. 

They voted against the long stretches of bad roads that claim Nigerian lives daily, against the broken-down trailers carrying badly strapped containers that keep failing on the same spot, and against not a single attempt made by the government to solve these problems.

Nigerians went the extra mile, suffered a lot of discomfort, people were maimed, and people died, all because Nigerians wanted better, a better life, a better country. I know as a people, we are used to suffering and fighting for everything, but the simple act of voting for your choice in an election should not be an act that puts you in grave danger. 

There are many reasons why Nigerians went to the polls in such large numbers, but who are we to hope for a different and better Nigeria without the permission of the people who benefit from the chaos of the country? 

Nigerians were so hopeful; people who had never voted queued up to vote; some voters had seen enough of Nigeria not to expect anything different but came out still to vote. 

The brazen theft of votes, the suppression of voters and the collective disregard for the will of the people is one we should never forget if this is a big if, we expect a better Nigeria. We should never forget what happened during this election cycle. 

But most importantly, we should not allow this experience to dissuade us from trying to exercise our rights to vote or rob us of our expectations of a better Nigeria. So let your voices always be loud, and your hope never recede. 

Merry Christmas and a beautiful New Year.

Kelechi Belinda Udeogu has a PhD in development and political communication.

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