Hoping Card Readers Are Here To Stay By Alex Agbo

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inec nigeria card readerIn the build up to the presidential elections, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Attahiru Jega , introduced a novelty into the Nigerian political lexicon. There were back and forth arguments for or against the innovation. Jega stood his ground wheathering all rumoured Tsunami that were supposed to have swept him away from his office as a lot of persons and interested big shots viewed the man as a patriotic saboteur.

After the hues and cries, the card readers were still used and the elections came saw the light of day, and went successfully. Whether it was completely fair, credible and free is a subject of common debates even at beer parlours and pepper soup joints till date. However, one thing one can not take away from the just concluded elections is the fact that it instituted a new kind of fear in politicians of the Nigerian breed. Prior to the card reader adventure by INEC cases of ballot stuffing, snatching and hijacking of votes were the order if every election. Having woken up to a new dawn in our political history, we ask the vital question of whether the cars readers are here to stay or it is a once- upon-a-time experiment.

This question is vital and very pivotal when one takes a look at the political landscape of Nigeria laden with insincerity, cancerous selfishness and demonic lack of will to do anything good. As an aside, I have always wondered why the Nigerian and indeed black African leaders are allergic to humaitarian tendencies, if we can call it that, because the money and resources being carted with reckless abandon belongs to the people in the first place.

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Lest I digress, it is therefore imperative to find a way of doing things right by force, and Jega seems to have helped out. Today we find governors-elect, senators-elect and other forms of elects coming to terms finally with the ideology that government is not a lord-servant relationship but just a trust.

Examples abound of governors who deliberately pauperised their people for years. While they and their family members have properties abroad and state resources are stored away overseas, the real owners contend with unstable power supply, inadewuate health facilities, absence of good roads, substandard education, malnutrition, poverty and death. As a way of showing the African’s proclivity for brazen wickedness, governors and their other ‘excellencies’ go abroad to treat headache and minor fever while at home the people die from minor ailments such as waist pain, pile, malaria, typhoid and other forms of diseases. Why does this happen? It is because over the years the people’s votes were not allowed in deciding who leads them. But if that fearsome card reader remains, I can bet we are seeing the supremacy of the real owners of that trust which has been severely abused by the political class.

In the year 2016, Kogi state would have a new governor. The performance of the administration would be used to determine the fate of the party, not only of The Governor. This is because Kofi people have decided to move beyond the usual story of ‘ the federal allocation is too small to go round’. It is also imperative to point out that the entire Kogi State has been in a coma for almost 12 years,and still counting till 2016. If the people of the state don’t take their destiny in their hands,the destiny robbers would gang up against them and visit them with another four years of stagnation and lack of direction.

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Primary schools in Kogi state have been on strike for God knows how long. And there is a sitting governor who now pays as low as thirty percent of due salaries. In the first place, Kogi workers are underpaid. Then come to think of being paid 30% of N10,000! In Kogi it is better to sell recharge cards than to work in the State Civil Service. The so called cottage hospitals are all dead. Who would work when the entire sate swarm with ghost workers? Feelers have it that even when the jobs don’t pay, those who want to work for lack of more profitable things to do, would need a fovernment official or an acolyte of the rulers to get it. There are instances where those that work in the government establishments now live in Abuja. They only go to work on pay-day. This is highly unacceptable. This can not and would not take the state anywhere near progress.

Another aspect of the issue in Kogi State is the ethnicity bug nibbling at the soul of the the cohesion and progress of the state. The nebulous claim of the majority rule in the state is to say the least, anachronistic and retrogressive. Without much thinking, one can see that it has severely impaired the progress and development of the state. Here’s a common adage among the Igbos that if the rat cannot run fast enough he should give way to the tortoise. Last week we all celebrated four Nigerians who won elections into the British parliament. Is that feat too big for us to accomplish in Kogi State and Nigeria? When would people from Ebira, Okun and others rule Kogi State? This is food for thought. My Igala brethren should pardon my dissenting voice. The progress of any community should take the front seat. The idea that a particular tribe is born to rule is parochial because it undermines merit and credibility. It is my bet that since the card readers have put a stop to the tradition of ballot snatching and stuffing, we are going to see more of the ethnic card being played. Now we are going to have politicians visiting the villagers more, using the same roads they refused to make for the village people and promising heaven and earth.

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There’s need to change the course of events in the state in 2006 and I believe Jega’s magic wand can do it.

Alex Agbo

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