From Nigeria, Gambia to Ghana; Psychology of an African Electorate
WEDNESDAY Column By Israel A. Ebije
Technology assisted voters card readers, cyber based pervasive media has greatly permitted positive impact on electoral process in Africa, where real time circulation of results is possible. These technological possibilities and the new policy by electorate to wait for votes to be counted has also reduced manipulations.
Manipulations can be reduced for now, but African styled politics allegedly confirmed by out going president of Ghana, John Mahama is still festooned on tokenistic gifts, deployment of security to muzzle the people, recruitment of agents to manipulate results. It is however satisfying that people now take gifts and still vote along true conscience.
From Nigeria’s President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, out going President Yahaya Jammeh of Gambia to John Mahama of Ghana, the decision of electorates in this part of the world is a resounding affirmative for alternative government or change as most people will prefer to call it. It is indeed illuminating that Africans do not tolerate failed leaders.
The era of transparency is upon us. With the level of awareness among Africans, leaders must perform above 70 percent to get re-elected. In the past a handful of salt/sugar, five cubes of Maggi was just enough to sway the minds of electorates. After voting for donkeys, they expect to make it compete in a race among horses. Now electorates go for horses as leaders to win in providing basic social amenities for the people.
Just a few years ago, precisely less than a decade, Nigerians to be specific decided against tokenistic lure in exchange for votes. Tired of abysmal performance, occasioned by godfather induced recruitment style of people in power, the slogan “every vote must count” became a mantra, which was perfected by card readers, drones, and real time announcements of results, which were keenly supervised by ordinary Nigerians – that is the actual change so far.
With the manner at which incumbent leaders are toppled by opposition party platforms, it is indeed safe to say that most African president’s who served second terms in office in the past, never merited it. While there are no empirical indicators on this line of thought, the pattern of voting since Jonathan was shown the exit door has proven a paradigm shift has overtaken the political scenery.
It appears the people are cleaning the skewed leadership recruitment system, which has left African nations in standstill position for many decades. The people have suddenly realized the immense power in their hands during elections and are wielding it without fear or favor.
It is however interesting to note that amidst all the efforts at removing stooges from power via the ballot, the people continue to have over bloated expectations based on campaign promises. After voting for candidates of their choice, they are inundated by abysmal statistics, which leads them to search for alternatives, a process which might soon be ad-infinitum.
Already some Nigerians who voted for incumbent president Muhammadu Buhari are resolved to vote for an alternative. It is in the opinion of these classifications of individuals that he has failed on his campaign promises and economy under him has plummeted to an all time low. The people are convinced that any good leader could have done better with the economy Jonathan left after his defeat at the polls in 2015.
For Nigerian electorates, whoever emerges president for a second term must have impressed them beyond doubts or has rigged beyond the comprehension of vigilant electorates. Impressing the people must not be on the pages of paper or some documents but on traceable economic changes like cheap prices of commodities, lowered poverty level, availability of infrastructural facilities, security and general peace.
Sadly, African leaders are scared of relinquishing power to the opposition. The outgoing Gambian Jammeh, after 22 years in office has recanted concession to the man who defeated him at the polls only proves that many African leaders are not willing to leave power. But for many African leaders, it goes beyond lure of official paraphernalia.
Most African presidents are afraid of probe. Only recently during the American presidential election, the issue of probe was raised by president elect Donald Trump, who made it clear he may have to probe Hillary Clinton if he is elected president. In Africa, probing past leaders dominates campaign promises most time.
Most African presidents probe their predecessors. The masses seem to like it on account that it avenges for the lootings. Sadly, Buhari has been probing and blaming the past for almost two years while essential government chores continue to plummet dangerously towards an abysmal fall.
While President Buhari is struggling to get looters in the immediate past administration, some government officials under his administration are working up their bank accounts right under his nose. Some alleged his anti corruption war is selective, insisting some of his cabinet members have been accused of corruption and calls to prosecute them has been rebuffed.
Based on evident gaps in the administration of President Buhari and coupled with allegations that public officials are siphoning public funds, those around the president will most likely resist defeat at the polls in 2019. The River state re-run election where deaths, security supervised rigging culminated the process is a possible monolithic example of what awaits Nigeria in the next two years.
President Jammeh may have had reasons to be afraid of the threats by the president elect to probe his administration. With so much to lose, he had to go back to the mud like other African pigs did before him. I guess, he would prefer to destabilize Gambia than to face looming embarrassment of sharp practices while he held sway for more than two decades. He certainly wouldn’t want to end like Laurent Gbagbo of Cote d’Ivoire.
The lesson in all this is for our leaders to understand that it is no longer business as usual. Position of leadership must be held in trust otherwise, the instrument to revolve the chair of leadership which is firmly in the hands of the masses will continue to deliver judgment against prebendalism. Once a leader is shown the exit door, probe is inevitable since it satisfies the masses.
Ebije can be reached via: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or @ebijeisrael.com