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The farce of political participation in Nigeria

Sixty-two years ago, Nigeria became an independent state, for the record, the 29th African country to gain independence from the shackles of colonialism. Houses’ doors…

Sixty-two years ago, Nigeria became an independent state, for the record, the 29th African country to gain independence from the shackles of colonialism. Houses’ doors were flung ajar, and citizens took to their heels, celebrating as a seemingly far-fetched dream became a reality; yes, their long-hauled agitation for independence finally paid off. In 1959, there was an election masterminded by the British colonial masters. It led to the emergence of Nigeria’s foremost nationalists and statesmen —Tafewa Balewa of Northern People Congress (NPC), Obafemi Awolowo of Action Group (AG), and Nnamdi Azikiwe of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC). 

The end to which a bureaucracy of power was established, devoid of prejudice to exalt one party higher than the others. Everyone had a fair cut. Yet, NPC found NCNC worthy of a two-sided beneficial alliance. This alliance would later be the bedrock upon which Nnamdi Azikiwe became Nigeria’s Governor-General, and Tafewa Balewa, Prime Minister. In this structure, AG served as the official opposition. And this was the modus operandi until the 1964 election which succeeded Nigeria’s new status as a republic state — attained in 1963. For anyone conversant with Nigeria’s political history, a denial of the electioneering shambles replete in Nigeria’s 1964 general election would be treason worthy of getting exiled.

The election which was overseen by the federal government proved to be incapable of producing clear-cut elected candidates without controversies, awful brickbats, foul plays, and partiality. The obvious failure of the 1964 general election began what would be Nigeria’s definitive electioneering nature till this very point in 2022— 58 years ago. If you take time out to filter through the whispers of the public, you will discover a high odd describing Nigeria’s independence as quacky, premature, and hasty. 

It is 2022 and the general election seems to be lurking around, powers are about to change hands in 2023. Despite the clamors here and there, imploring people to take active participation in the forthcoming elections, some disapprove of the credibility of elections in Nigeria, stating that votes do not determine who wins an election or not. They believe the results of elections are often influenced by the ruling party. To this claim, they cite so many instances. 

The truth be told, this is the farce of political participation in Nigeria: voters are victims of violence at election polls, votes are bought, and the votes are inflated and deflated as decided by the smartest of the game. In this place, the numbers on your screen decide the fate, not the stamp of your fingers at election polls.    

Odukoya Adeniyi, a Nigerian poet, essayist and freelance writer writes from Lagos