There are times one wonders if Nigeria ever learn from its own history. In the book of Job 8:8 (ERV) in the Bible, it is written that "Ask those who are now old. Find out what their ancestors learned." There is definitely something that history has to teach each and every one of us, either as an individual or as a group. One of the things you learn by making inquiries into the past is that it gives you the privilege, and the hindsight not to fall into the same errors those in the past fell into, and then pick up a couple of lessons from their own mistakes to guide your own journey going forward. History reveals to us how to do things, and how not to do certain things. History they say, is a good teacher, and I quite agree with that assertion.
Elections have just been postponed again in Nigeria, barely few hours before it had been originally scheduled to commence. As a matter of fact, this is not the first time elections are being postponed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the body saddled with the sole responsibility of conducting elections by law in Nigeria; after several months of preparations and monies expended. As a matter of fact, INEC does not do any other thing, apart from conducting elections. Sometimes in 2011, the National Assembly elections were scheduled for April 2, 2011 and had commenced smoothly when Professor Attahiru Jega, the INEC chairman at the time, announced the postponement. The reason he gave was late deployment of electoral materials.
Four years later in 2015, the same INEC Chairman, Professor Jega moved the elections again, this time by six weeks following pressure from the security chiefs who said they needed time to “decimate Boko Haram” so that elections can take place in crisis-prone areas, especially in the North East. At this time, Nigerians knew the move was more political than what the INEC had put out in the press briefings. Fast forward to 2019, the same INEC had postponed elections again due to logistical reasons, under a different Chairman by the name Professor Mahmoud Yakubu.
Now, the question begging for answers is: why now? Why is it that logistical reasons and operational plans became a challenge for INEC, less than 10 hours to the 2019 Elections? What has INEC, under Professor Mahmoud, been doing in these past years? What has INEC, under the current leadership learnt from the previous mistakes of their predecessors? Does it mean some of these logistical reasons were not factored in before now? Does anyone know the cost implications of postponing this election by one week, on Nigerians, on businesses and even on the election itself? This action on itself has opened the door for voting apathy in a way that cannot be probably imagined right now. Can we continue to do the same thing as a nation, and expect a different result?
You know, one of the things I have realized in Nigeria is that history has a way of repeating itself, simply because we don't learn from history as a nation. Our leaders don't value our history, and this could be the reason, perhaps, why history as a subject is not been taught in most of our schools. I remember how Boko Haram kidnapped over 200 girls in Chibok town in Borno State in 2014, of which a larger proportion of them still remain unaccounted for till date. Fast forward to 2018, something similar occurred, this time around in Dapchi town in Yobe. Boko Haram went into the dormitory of some school girls and haul them away. Till now, one of them by the name Leah Sharibu has still not been rescued.
INEC should have learned from their own history in order to avoid a repeat of this negative trend of election postponement. They had over three years to prepare for this election. Funds were made available. At different occasions, Professor Mahmoud gave Nigerians the assurance that the commission was ready to conduct a free, fair and credible elections. Election observers had flew in from different parts of the world, INEC ad hoc staffs had been deployed, many of them had even arrived at their designated places of assignment prior to this devilish postponement. In places where fire had gutted election materials; the state's respective residence electoral commission confirmed to journalist that those materials had been replaced and that their states were ready for the elections. Please, where did this logistical issue and operational challenges emanate from?
Could it have been that INEC did not for-see some of these challenges and adequately prepare for them? Because one thing I know about leadership is that it confers upon one the ability of hindsight, and being able to adequately plan for emergencies. Or could it have been the handy work of the high and mighty political gladiators who may have been smelling that the outcome of the elections may not favor them or their respective parties? Because, whether we like it or not, everything in Nigeria has got some political tone and coloration. Was Professor Mahmoud pressured by political bigwigs to postpone this elections? Or can we say he is just incapable of doing the right thing at this time in our nation's electoral history?
Several times I have had cause to think why Nigeria is not being respected by international communities. Why we have not taken our place on the global stage as the Giant of Africa that we truly are, and be the light as a nation for the rest of Africa? It is simply because of matters like this. Like postponing an election in which the electoral body had more than 36 months to prepare for. I think it is time we begin to learn from our own history as a nation, maybe it would save us some of these costly and avoidable errors in the future. We cannot continue to do the same thing, and expect a different result. It is time to wake up!
God bless Nigeria.