Editor's note: In this piece, Tunji Ajibade, writes on various election in Nigeria and the heated polity.
Ajibade believes that as regards to elections and voting rights, the northerners are smarter that southerners in Nigeria.
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It is the last Friday of the month when I focus on occurrences on television. The programme, ‘Journalists’ Hangout’, on TVC News recently had in attendance Martins Oloja.
He’s a columnist of The Guardian newspaper. One of the topics treated was the 2019 elections and collection of Permanent Voter Card.
The panelists noted that the rate of collection of PVCs according to INEC was low. It’s more so in parts of the South than the north of Nigeria. In the programme, Oloja pointed out that although the north appeared silent at the time, it was working actively towards the 2019 elections.
The north, he said, was mobilising its people on several fronts, including getting the masses to register and collect their PVCs while the south was busy making noise in the traditional and social media. He notes further that most people in the South are too proud, aloof, making too much noise online without taking the essential democratic steps that determine who gets political power.
My addition to that is to note how in the last Ekiti and Osun governorship elections politicians had to deploy money to lure (supposedly highly educated southerners) to the voting booths; meanwhile, supposedly illiterate northerners would always fill voting booths to willingly cast their ballots.
As Oloja makes his comment, I almost clap, noting immediately someone who understands the way the North operates.
The same was a major conclusion I had reached back in the days of the struggle against the cancellation of the June 12, 1993 election.
While some in the South went about shouting themselves hoarse and threatening the consequences for Nigeria if the June 12 mandate was not validated, the North, that is the more relevant personalities, was silent, or seemingly so.
My view then that when the north was silent, that was when it was most active, was confirmed after General Olusegun Obasanjo was released from prison in 1998. Gen Ibrahim Babangida visited him in his Ota home.
Asked by journalists what he came to do, he said he came to see Obasanjo because the retired General mattered and would continue to matter in Nigeria. People such as Prof. Ango Abdullahi, a former VC of Ahmadu Bello University, had since affirmed that the meeting where the North resolved to adopt Obasanjo as the PDP presidential candidate was taken in his house.
The North was silent but had its way that time, while those who only shouted had their say.
As time passes, I shall be stating a few things that I admire regarding the way the North operates both in the traditional setting and in modern politicking. Smooth, silent operators they are, master strategists, generally more skilful at how to silently organise and grab power.
With close to three decades of contact with the North, I suppose I should know a few things. They are things some may loathe to read.
But some of us, including Oloja, who observe facts and like to state them as facts aren’t worried about the usual unwholesome reaction from those who think their view must always be the only view in town, and that the South can never have anything to learn from the North.
Just as Oloja had a different but factual viewpoint that time, it’s good to always have around people who have a different and clearer perspective wherever those who are headstrong but mistaken in their views are gathered.
On a BBC World Debate shown the other day, there was that discussion about the influence of hyper-partisanship in news reports.
One white panelist went on and on about hyper-partisanship in news reports driven by tribal affiliations in Africa. He was practically saying party affiliations, race issues and governments do not colour reportage anywhere else apart from Africa.
However, there was a New York Times resource person on the panel who stated at 9:52pm Nigerian time that hyper-partisanship didn’t take place only in Africa. It was good he refocused and resituated the narrative in the course of the debate.
He helps argue that tribalism, party affiliation or racism that colours news reports isn’t the exclusive preserve of Africa as the first panelist wants viewers to run away with, but it happens in every country where human beings exist.
Meanwhile, the US Consul-General in Nigeria, John Bray, was shown by Channels TV at the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Lagos, the other day.
He was shown ceremonially beating our African-styled gong for a long time at the exchange, making one wonder if he would ever stop. Bray obviously enjoyed the thrill of beating a real African gong.
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He wasn’t afraid of beating it well, confident that our gong was strong and wouldn’t break.
He wasn’t like the CNN’s Richard Quest who beat the gong in 2017 as though it would scatter in pieces. Quest even went ahead to comment on his programme about our gong as if he had reservations that we didn’t import a white man-made bell and he wanted ours sent to a museum.
It was good seeing a US official treating our gong the way we like to treat it. I’m gratified also that, just as I had once stated on this page, the management of the stock exchange didn’t allow itself to be intimidated by Quest’s comment and change the gong.
We are Africans and many of us are proud of what is ours, confident of ourselves enough to flaunt what we have in the face of any foreigner anywhere.
I guess Channels TV’s Sports Department is reorganised and is getting better. In the course of its 10pm news bulletin, recently, and at exactly 10:54pm, the sports presenter reported that Nigeria beat Equatorial Guinea by 3 goals to 1. That was at the CHAN football tournament held in Morocco. This report came about an hour after the match ended.
The result had even been displayed on Channels TV’s scroll bar much earlier.
I point this out because I had once raised concerns on this page in the past that this station reported outcomes of important football matches played late into the night the following day – sometimes 13 hours later. I had added then that such wasn’t news anymore on a news station operating 24 hours, and called for a re-organisation.
The Americans remain an example of patriotism, doing what is good for one’s nation and being proud of it no matter what foreigners say. Mike Pompeo was the CIA Director in January. The BBC showed an interview it had with him on January 30, 2018.
Pompeo was asked about the intricacies of being a spy chief, stealing information from other nations. At 5:07pm Nigerian time, Pompeo said, “We will do the damndest to steal secrets on behalf of the American people.”
He proudly added that the Americans were the best spies in the world. “We are the world’s best espionage service; I’m extremely proud of that.”
When he became the US Secretary of State (Foreign Affairs), Pompeo said America wouldn’t take rubbish from Iran over its controversial nuclear programme. For this, Iran said the present world has no place for former spies who specialise in stealing.
By the way, governments in Nigeria have a way of confusing citizens even when their intention is to clarify issues. In the process, one is left to wonder if it is government officials who are more confused or their listeners.
On TVC News, January 29, 2018, the Lagos State Government had an advertisement in which it called on citizens to pay their taxes. It says whoever works in Lagos must pay taxes in Lagos State. Of course, there are millions of people who work in Lagos but live in neighbouring states.
Days earlier, I took note that the then Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, said where Nigerians live is where they should pay tax. She stated this after the Niger state government wrote a petition to her office, complaining that the Federal Government was wrong to deduct taxes of people who worked in Abuja but lived in Suleja (Niger State).
One day, both governments and their citizens will have their heads cleared of all confusion regarding who should do what and who is entitled to what.
That, in a deliberately distorted federal arrangement that’s capable of confusing even the best professor of federalism.
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