The Aftermath

By Jude Atupulazi

By the time you read this you’ll probably be feeling like a recently buried man listening to the sounds of music at his funeral. He will want to stand up and dance but will be held back by the coffin and the weight of the sand on top of it. He will be just powerless to do anything, including righting any wrong.

Like the dead man, many Nigerians are right now powerless to decide who becomes their next president; the election of such a person having already taken place on Saturday and the result being awaited.

If the choice made becomes wrong, everybody will suffer it; much the same way as everybody suffered in the eight years of outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari. I know some may wonder why I said ”everybody” when those in power were supposed to have enjoyed.

Yes, everybody suffered but in various ways. While those outside the power corridors suffered from hunger, deprivation, joblessness, poverty and insecurity, those at the top had all they needed but still were dodging from the bullets of bandits, kidnappers and Boko Haram, depending on where they were based. They also were unable to cash their looted funds in the banks. Thus, everybody suffered from the choice of bad leadership.

As I stated recently, many of those in Benue State who were at the receiving end of killer herdsmen’s attacks in Buhari’s first tenure but who foolishly voted for Buhari again, did not live to see how it ended as they could not escape from their adversaries one more time. They were victims of their foolishness.

As we await the result of the presidential election, it is my prayer that we will not be victims of our foolishness. I know it is normal for victors in an election to gloat and troll their opponents, but as I stated above, such people will invariably pay for their wrong or bad choice sooner than later.

We all had a chance to take our destiny in our hands and we were warned long enough on the consequences of not voting right. So if the wrong person emerges later as the president, we will only have ourselves to blame. But if the right person wins, we will have taken our destiny in our hands towards fashioning a New Nigeria.

But even as at now a clear winner may not emerge, meaning that a run off will take place. If this were so, we will have to wait longer. This period of waiting is actually the most difficult after an election because of our powerlessness to change the course of history.

Let’s watch, wait and pray that the usual drama which trails elections in Nigeria will finally not rear its head.

Naira in Account, None in Pocket

Isn’t it a great paradox that today many Nigerians have lots of money in their bank accounts but very little in their pockets? Indeed, these days, anyone who can boast of physical cash of N3, 000 counts themselves lucky. The other day, I had gone to buy stuff I would have for dinner one Friday night only for poor network to deny me access to the things I had bought and tried to pay  via either POS or transfer.

I had to return the items I’d picked and went home hungry because I’d no cash in my pocket. This is no thanks to the ongoing pains suffered by Nigerians as a result of the decision of the nation’s apex bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to swap some Naira notes.

Although many Nigerians have understood the reason for the latest CBN policy, as well as its long term implications on our economy, not a few believe that things should have been handled much better by both the apex bank and commercial banks.

It is indeed saddening that from January 31 that was the initial deadline, up till now, the situation, rather than improve, is worsening. Nowadays it is even becoming difficult to see POS operators. When you see those that have money, their charges hit you in the face like a punch thrown by Mike Tyson in his prime.

A visit to the banks sees one confront chaotic scenes as people struggle to enter and get money. Of course, getting money from the Automated Teller Machines is just as difficult.

Years ago Nigeria changed some denominations and everything went rather seamlessly. One therefore wonders why the current situation is different. The current situation is driving some small businesses out of business because the people doing the businesses cannot access cash.

These are basically illiterate market women who know next to nothing about e-money. The frustration is real and tensions are high. We all saw videos of people going berserk in bank halls out of frustration and desperation. There is just no reason why the banks should not have tidied things up by now.

The economy the federal government is trying to save seems to be collapsing because of the shoddiness of the handling of this grave matter. If the country cannot handle such a matter very well, I wonder what it can.

Simon Ekpa and Our Governors

That Simon Ekpa has continued to incite violence in Igbo Land from faraway Finland unhindered is becoming the Eighth Wonder of the World. Recently, a group of elders from the South East, Middle Belt and South South, lodged a protest against Ekpa through the Finnish Embassy in Nigeria.

That was a good move; even if belated, but my beef is why the governors of the South East have refused to explore this option all this while. How can anyone see the source of a big problem and refuse to do something about it? One would have expected a very spirited attempt to get Ekpa repatriated a long time ago. But because nothing was done the young man has been comfortably instigating crises in Igbo Land.

No time is late. Our governors should wake up and lead the charge for the repatriation of this menace called Ekpa. Our federal lawmakers should also join in pressurizing the federal government to do its part in this business. Anyone who thinks the killings will stop with the release of Kanu is getting it wrong as Ekpa is now carrying out his own selfish and evil agenda.

This leads me to the next stage. One thing in life is for anyone not to start what they cannot see through or cannot eventually control. To all those shouting and crying over the activities of the current brand of Biafra agitation, let them remember what we warned against at the early stages.

We warned against forcibly stopping people doing legitimate business from going about their business through what has come to be known as sit-at-home. We also warned against any form of violent agitation, especially in our homestead because of the negative implications.

But some people claimed that staying at home was part of the sacrifice people should make to achieve Biafra. This was despite the negative consequences of such on the economy of the South East, as well as education and security. And thus the sit-at-home on Mondays continued when Nigerians in other parts of the country were going about their businesses.

Even when the Monday lockdown affected our children taking WAEC, it was still dismissed as a necessary sacrifice. Things then started to get bloody and many were killed for defying the order to stay back home. Public property was burnt and destroyed and anarchy overtook the once peaceful South East Zone.

When eventually those who started the whole thing called it off, a new monster had been created in Ekpa who refused to simmer down and has continued to instigate and unleash violence from the safety of his Finland abode and saying there would be no elections in the South East. Everybody has suddenly become worried.

But I ask, what is the difference between what Ekpa is now doing and what was done before? Would there have been all these latest developments if there were not the initial ones? Did not the current agitators borrow a leaf from what they saw and participated in much earlier?

So my message to those now regretting is that they are part of the current problem, finito!