By Jude Atupulazi
If the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the body saddled with the onerous task of conduction elections in Nigeria, keeps true to its word, then on February 16, Nigerians will be going to the polls to determine their future for the next four years and even beyond.
If the INEC also keeps true to its assurance of making this year's elections better than the ones in 2015, then Nigerians can look forward to seeing their votes count.
If per adventure, the incumbent president, Gen Muhammadu Buhari, loses and like Goodluck Jonathan elects to put through a call to Atiku Abubakar and congratulate him, Nigerians can be sure of another peaceful transition of power. People's property will not be vandalized or looted and above all, lives will be saved, just like in 2015.
BUT if none of the last two above happens, Nigerians should then be prepared for any eventuality. I'm not saying that the incumbent president, Buhari, cannot win. He can; but that is if Nigerians are stupid enough to facilitate that with their votes. He can also win by subverting the popular mandate of Nigerians. If he does that, I can already hear some people saying ''All win na win''.
But it is the likelihood of this last scenario that has prompted me to share my thoughts with you.
For all those who have been following the news, it will not come as a surprise for them to know that all the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, seems to be banking on is rigging the elections, especially the presidential election. Their body language says it all. We saw this in their actions like the initial appointment of service chiefs from one part of the country and from one religion. Their brief seems to be to ensure that nothing happens when a certain man begins to execute his agenda.
We saw this in the appointment of the president's kinsman to head INEC.
We also saw it when the president appointed his relation to head the collation room of INEC.
We saw this when the chief justice of Nigeria was arbitrarily suspended and replaced by who looks to be a yes man whose brief seems to appoint tribunal judges who will do the bidding of the ruling party.
We also saw this in the most recent redeployment of commissioners of police, with one of them who served with APC's strongman, Bola Tinubu, being deployed to Rivers State whose governor has been a thorn in the flesh of Buhari.
We are not unaware of the boasts of Buhari's supporters on social media that the presidential election is as good as won.
All the above are signs that the ruling party is up to something sinister; something they are not even trying to hide.
The result of all this is that many Nigerians, especially the lily livered, will conclude that there's no point wasting energy and time to go queue up to vote. To them, it is a question of 'why vote when my vote will not count?' They also waste no time telling same to others. But what they may not know is that this is exactly what the APC wants them to think and believe.
Indeed, rigging is not easy anymore. But it will be easy if the margins of victory are thin. And it will be even better for the APC if, by people not coming out, the party wins fair and square.
The question then becomes, do we want them to win fair and square? By they, I mean those in Aso Rock, particularly the main man there. I'm not concerned about other candidates contesting for other positions as there's even an APC candidate I have decided to vote for. This is to show that my grouse is not with the party itself but with the leader of that party who happens to be the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. His name is Muhammadu Buhari.
It is my considered view that this man is not fit to be a local government chairman. But sadly, he is more than that. He is the president of the most populous black nation in the world, Nigeria. Isn't that the height of absurdity? Indeed, any time I ponder this, I wonder whether this country was cursed from the day of her creation.
My problem isn't where those who rule come from or what their religion is. What I care for most is to see food on my table. To pay my bills comfortably. To walk the streets freely. To freely associate with people and freely express my opinion. To travel to anywhere in the country and feel safe. I guess many Nigerians also feel this way.
Of what use is it to me if my brother rules Nigeria but I do not get to enjoy all of the above? Will it not be better for somebody else to rule while I enjoy all the afore-stated? That is the crux of the matter as one of my professional colleagues, Tony Okafor, would always say.
My heart bleeds each time I come to the realization that in the 21st century Nigeria, somebody like Buhari is my president. For all I care, the North can rule forever as far as they give us people who will make us feel like people of one country; make us feel like the giant of Africa they say we are. But because this man presently at the helm of affairs has failed on all counts, Nigerians are suddenly seeing themselves as strangers in their country. The people have become sitting ducks for trigger happy herdsmen to do target practice with. Sections of the country, especially the one I come from, no longer feel they belong. And while they groan and gnash their teeth at the unequal treatment they receive from the country they have given so much to build, they are not even allowed to cry. Those who cry are branded terrorists and thrown into jail. Those who kill them continue to walk the streets freely. That is the paradox that has come to confront us in Nigeria.
Under the rulership of this man, the economy has taken a turn for the worse. Unemployment is still multiplying. Hunger and poverty rule the land. Desperate to survive, Nigerian youths whose mates elsewhere are occupying leadership positions are stealing female pants to survive. We are made to believe that there are people who badly need those pants for the performance of some money spinning ritual. To get these pants, they are ready to pay handsomely to anyone who provides them. Thus, rather than hunt for jobs, our youths are hunting for female pants and many females now go without pants. I even hear that male boxers have also been included. All this is happening in the Nigeria of the 21st century! Which way Nigeria?
We have a chance to put a halt to our problems. That chance is the one that will come on February 16. It will provide us with the chance of kicking out one of the most sectional, hypocritical and sadistic rulers we have had. Forget about any form of intimidation. Just cast your vote and go or stay. Leave the fight to those who can fight it.
The ruling party may have the wherewithal to manipulate things, but the ultimate power belongs to God. It is very clear that the world's super powers are against Buhari. Buhari knows it too. He knows they have the power to stop him if he decides to thwart the mandate of the people. He knows that they are watching, waiting to pounce. But they will only pounce and intervene when you vote and it is established that Buhari lost. If you don't vote and he wins fairly, there's nothing they can do to help you and me.
Forget the talk of sovereignty. They have a way of bringing recalcitrant leaders to their knees. We are seeing this presently playing out in Venezuela. President Maduro, a long serving dictator, lost the election but manipulated it, refusing to hand over to the real winner. The super powers gave him a one week ultimatum to put things right or they will recognize the other man as the winner. They even encouraged that other man to set up an interim government which they will recognize.
Buhari knows all about the Venezuelan situation. It is seriously worrying them. They know it is something that could thwart their rigging plans. Now they are frustrated. They are angry. Thus the other day, the governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, vented the frustrations of the cabal ruling Nigeria by threatening the foreign observers with being returned to their countries in body bags. For those who don't know, putting them in body bags is a euphemism for killing them. Only dead people are stuffed in body bags.
That unguarded statement has only served to pitch them against the Nigerian people and the international community. The noose, indeed, is tightening. So the only thing they can do now is to scare you into fearing to come out to vote so that they can hope to win fairly.
So you can see you still hold the aces. Do your part by voting and then leave matters to God. You should fear not, for he is in control.
But if you allow anyone to brainwash you into seeing Buhari as your Messiah, then know that what he dished out in his first tenure when he still needed your votes will be nothing compared to what you will see in a second tenure when he can treat you as he wants.