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Nigeria: This Inconclusive country

“Pity the nation that is full of beliefs and empty of religion.

Pity the nation that acclaims the bully as hero,

and that deems the glittering conqueror bountiful.

Pity a nation that despises a passion in its dream,

yet submits in its awakening.

Pity the nation that raises not its voice

save when it walks in a funeral,

boasts not except among its ruins,

and will rebel not save when its neck is laid

between the sword and the block.

Pity the nation whose statesman is a fox,

whose philosopher is a juggler,

and whose art is the art of patching and mimicking.

Pity the nation that welcomes its new ruler with trumpeting,

and farewells him with hooting,

only to welcome another with trumpeting again.”

Khalil Gibran,The Garden of The Prophet, 1934.

JUST remove “nation’ in every line substitute with Nigeria, and the muse would be inspiring Khalil on the problematic project called Nigeria, an unsettled polity 55 years after flag independence.

When I received a call from Comrade Dan Nwanyanwu a few weeks ago that some of our friends at the 2014 National Conference had deemed it fit that we send a congratulatory message to Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu upon his appointment as the chairman of the Independent(?) National Electoral Commission (INEC), I told him it was a good idea before I expressed my reservations. As a  person, Prof. Yakubu as one of the Assistant Secretaries at the conference was a jolly good fellow. He was very jovial with listening ears. He had this infectious smile that make you happy even when he could not immediately address your concern.

But my reservation was whether it was a congratulatory message that he needed most from us or forming ourselves into a band of prayer warriors so he may have our thumbs up after the completion of one of the most dangerous jobs in a country like Nigeria.

His baptism of fire was to soon come in the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship polls.

It was Kogi first on November 21. In spite of hiccups here and there,voting was over by Saturday and the results were being announced. The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Abubakar Audu with James Faleke as running mate was leading the closest contender, Idris Wada of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) with 41,000 when the returning officer declared the elections “inconclusive”. His reason was that there were 49,000 registered voters in some  91 polling units where there were issues which outnumbered the gap between the two leading candidates which would require supplementary polls at a later date.

No one had the time to look at the data before news filtered in that the APC candidate had concluded his race of life.

There were conflicting reports about the time of Audu’s death fueling suspicion that the inconclusiveness could have been contrived to thwart the possibility of a Faleke who is also a James as well as Jagaban protege becoming the governor-elect as envisaged by the law in case of a governor-elect dying before inauguration.

Punctured  lines

That line was however punctured with the declaration by Audu’s brother that he died after the election was declared inconclusive. But the audacious impunity and brazenness that followed would not erase the conspiracy theory totally.

First, it came to the fore that all the collected PVCs in the 91 units were 25,000 which makes a supplementary poll a mere academic exercise. Then the Attorney General of the Federation pronounced that APC should pick another candidate to continue the supplementary polls, a position not backed by any known law in the land. The only scenario that could have fitted the “doctrine of necessity” in the instance was to have allowed Faleke to conclude the process started by him and Audu.

The electoral body however accepted Yaya Bello as a second candidate for APC in one election. He ran the supplementary election without a running mate as Faleke declined to be deputy to Bello insisting that he should be declared governor-elect. The law is clear that no governorship candidate would be deemed to have been validly nominated for an election without a running mate. The supplementary poll itself was an anti-climax as the votes garnered by all candidates were less than 12,000.The theatre of the absurd has moved to another low as the chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun has brazenly announced that the party is at liberty to pick another running mate for Bello after he has received certificate of returns. Yet,these are men waxing lyrical about rule of law seven months ago!

While the conundrum in the confluence state was entangling, the  festival of impunity shifted to Bayelsa on December 5 where the governorship election held. Results came from seven out of eight Local Government areas, LGAs, with the incumbent Governor, Seriake Dickson was leading in six out of the seven. The seeming attempt to do “Ido Osi” from Southern Ijaw Local Government led to the hanging of the result which was again declared “inconclusive”.

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When election in a state of eight LGAs is now holding across weeks, one can begin to wonder what would happen when we conduct general elections under this neo- do-or-die  atmosphere.

But I’m not that superficial to hold INEC responsible for this inconclusive syndrome. What is happening to our elections is a slice of the inconclusive nature of the Nigerian project.

Foundational project

Lawyers are fond of saying that you cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stand. We have a foundational problem but we continue to adjust the roofs of our collapsing structure.

The very reason we can’t hold conclusive election is why we have not been able to conduct a credible census in 55 years of independence. Our inability to do a conclusive census has nothing to do with our size but majorly with our unsettled polity. A country of 1.2b people like India updates its census on a daily basis. The National Television every night displays “Indian population as at 9pm is……”

Every area of our national life is dotted with one inconclusiveness or the other. What should be routine is usually complicated because we have yet to build consensus while we continue to pretend that some issues are settled.

And until we conclude the nationhood project,our progress will continue to be backward in nearly all spheres with “inconclusive” being the mantra.

Re: Na wetin MTN do sef?

HOWEVER, to my surprise on the 11th of November 2013, I was summoned to the vendor manager’s office, who directed me to a pregnant lady at the reception who served me with a brown envelope. On opening the letter I was informed that I had been placed on suspension indefinitely. The letter was even  emphatic that I should ensure I stayed away from offices and sites of MTN and CNSSLCCL. The full details of the letter is with me and some of my confidants.

Sincerely, I did not want it to get to this, as always I have adhered to the directive of the said letter. I took initiative to intimate my plight to some people who showed interest. Some said I should forget the job, some said I should look for another and better job.

That I should forget it. I am very aware that MTN is a global brand with a very strong ideal and internal culture. But I am amazed I have not heard from them at least to hear my side of the story. And see this to a logical conclusion. I did not want it to get to this. It has been five months now.

Often times I wonder if I am being rational or not, but for an employee who has worked over three years in an organisation, you are told all of a sudden that you have not been paying your tax. Is it fair? After over three years in an organisation you are referred to as a third party staff not entitled to benefits and entitlement in your own country. Who really is to blame here ?

Claims and allegations

Many people who identify and associate me with the MTN brand have often accused the company of being a charade and fraudulent. I have often defended and opposed such claims and allegations. I guess I have been fooled big time.

In conclusion, I feel like a heavy load has been lifted from my shoulders as I share this with you. Many will say, why don’t I just let things be and leave them to God. Well you do know that I am very much a human being, I have blood in my veins not acid. Some will say, why don’t you sue the company.  Don’t think I did not consider the option. Lawyers will also have to be pay. I did take some steps legally. A law firm was kind enough to assist me on a ‘Pro bono’ basis and the company was magnanimous enough to let me know formally that I am and never was an employee of either of the companies.

Hence if you ask me ‘Wetin MTN do sef´ I will answer you that ‘ dey offend me well well’. I know there are others too. Is it at this stage that I will now register for 5000 naira for the unemployed. The truth is this, our government should ensure that multinationals abide by the rules and regulations of the land. I have moved on and getting by, by God’s grace. Things should be done appropriately in this country for the sake of the younger generation.

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