The 2023 presidential election, as we all know, was manipulated by contrary forces against the will of the greater majority of Nigerians. But why was the contrived outcome greeted with eerie silence by the people? Why were Nigerians cold-footed over the violation of their right to choose their President? Let us attempt a review of what transpired.
It is an elementary fact that a lot of things came in-between in the buildup to the 2023 presidential election. One of them was the sharp increase in the number of Nigerians that participated in the voter registration exercise. This number tilted heavily in favour of the youths. The Nigerian youngsters were buoyed into action by the promises of a new day. The chairman of the electoral commission whose responsibility it was to conduct the elections had assured Nigerians that the commission would conduct free, fair and credible elections. He told the people that the results of the elections would be transmitted real-time and that their votes would count and would be the sole determinant of the electoral outcome. He equally promised that his commission would deploy appropriate technology to protect the integrity of the choice made by Nigerians at the polls. The people believed him. That was why they showed extraordinary interest in the 2023 general election.
The strong participation of young Nigerians in the electoral process was very manifest in the Obidient Movement. Members of the movement took the Peter Obi campaign to a new high. The animated crowds they generated was the first of its kind in Nigeria. It was phenomenal. Its boisterousness gave the campaigns a new impetus. The youths were fully mobilized in anticipation of a new Nigeria. In the light of the foregoing, it was difficult to imagine that any person or institution would toy with the resolve of the youths to usher in a new Nigeria. It was thought that anyone who attempted anything to the contrary would have the angry youths to contend with.
The conspirators read accurately the writing on the wall. But they were determined to give it a different meaning and character. And so they set sail. They began with a psychological dissection of the Nigerian character. Their major finding was that the Nigerian is an individual driven primarily by self-preservation. The interest of the collective can come later. This gave them an idea of what the youths could possibly do in situations such as the one we had on our hands. Convinced that the youth would not deviate radically from the original Nigerian character, the conspirators decided to brave the odds. They went ahead to manipulate the result of the election. They refused to be intimidated by the exaggerated vitality of the Nigerian youth.
The willful subversion of the people’s will happened before our very eyes. But no one took any action. The youths did not pour into the streets as expected. Rather, they chose to wait for the outcome of the court processes before deciding their next line of action. The courts have since proved beyond reasonable doubt that they were neck-deep into the conspiracy that thwarted the will of the people. Strangely, the youths and other aggrieved Nigerians did nothing. They became even more reticent and inactive.
So if you are looking for the reason Nigerians, including the boisterous youths, ended up so coldly and impotently in the face of the electoral roguery that took place, you will find the answer in the character of the Nigerian. A people driven by individual pursuits can hardly act swiftly and decisively as a collective.
In the instant case of the 2023 presidential election, Nigerians who were aggrieved by the malfeasance that took place must have been rendered impotent by a certain rationalization. What if state terror is visited on them? Who will rescue them under such circumstance? Rationalization of any sort kills action, and this was what happened in the instant case.
In fact, it can be said that the mental and emotional makeup of Nigerians approximate to that of Hamlet, a Shakespearean character who was weighed down by paralysis of will. Like Hamlet, Nigerians are objects of indecisiveness. They are torn between their attention to external objects and their inward thoughts. The conflict between them leads to a paralysis of will. Like Hamlet, the typical Nigerian is given to calculating his risks. He weighs up benefits against costs. By the time he is through with this, the action in him has melted into cold, impotent ash. In that situation, he is no longer capable of breaking free from his own rationalizations. This, naturally, leaves him in a state of inner turmoil.
If we want to extend this analogy, we would be saying that the Nigerian as we know him today has become an inhabitant of the Miltonian Hell. John Milton, an English poet, depicts hell as a dismal situation, a horrible dungeon where peace and rest can never dwell and where hope never comes. It is a situation of utter loss and deprivation.
Having failed to take action over the rape that was the 2023 presidential election, Nigerians are, compulsively, dwelling in the Miltonian Hell. Today’s Nigerian typifies lack and loss. He lives in privation and deprivation. He dwells in pain and grief. There is no hope of a better future for Nigeria for as long as the typical Nigerian suffers from paralysis of will.
Nigerians under the present state can also be likened to the fallen archangels who were led by Satan in their revolt against God. After the loss of paradise, some of them, in conjunction with Satan, sought to chart the way forward. While the likes of Belial settled for a life of ignoble ease, Mammon chose the option of hard liberty. He set out to make the best out of a bad situation. Nigerians appear to have adopted Mammon’s option. They are no longer thinking about or perturbed by the hardship around them. Rather, they have immersed themselves in it in the hope that rescue will come their way some day.
If life and living in Nigeria has remained a circus show, it is largely borne out of the affliction called paralysis of will. The people always look forward to a divine intervention, which never comes. In fact, you will be right if you say that Nigeria is not working because the people live for the moment. They are an unambitious lot who take whatever that comes their way. Thus, if Nigerians lost the bid to choose a President of their choice in 2023, it was not because the conspirators outsmarted them. They lost because they lacked the will to take action.