It has been an interesting few weeks for me; I got to observe the Nigerian Elections at a closer range, this time as I watched it on Television like many citizens did from my Uncle house here in Lagos. Sadly I did not get to vote in what has become an historic election. Having not lived at home for a very long time, I did not get to register in 2011, since I was living in Kenya at the time. And now that I am back home in Nigeria, I know could have registered, but the process sounded complicated, and if those who had registered where finding it difficult to get their PVC’s, how easy would it be for me to have tried to start the process from scratch.
The last election that I was around to witness was the 1993 elections. It was another historic election in a different kind of way, when the winner did not get to rule, since no official results was announced. I remember as a child listening to all the election jingles. It was an exciting time for me as the nation geared up for election, even though I could not vote, I knew who I wanted to win. Unfortunately the aftermath of the elections turned deadly for many and disrupted the nation’s entry into the democratic space. I remember the tension, even as a child, I knew it was a scary time, I heard the adult talk about the possibilities of coups and wars. I know many who had means took their families and left Nigeria. But for many of us, there was no place to run to, home is home, and so we remained.
And if we thought life under General Babaginda was bad, we soon knew that life could be a lot harder. Even as a young girl I could read the signs of the time, and I knew that things were bad for my country. A few years later in 1997, I moved with my Parents and siblings to Zambia. Interestingly enough I did not want to move at the time, despite all the problems Nigeria was facing at the time.
Because of the move to Zambia, I was not around when Abacha the man we dreaded died. I remember I was in Boarding school in Mkushi Zambia, when a friend told me the news. I remember being so surprised, and relieved, like a burden was lifted. I watched from afar of as democracy resumed her place in Nigeria. I remember my dad would print out stories he got from The Guardian Newspaper ( a Nigerian Daily) and save it all for me while I was away in school.
Being away for so long and living in three different countries has given me the opportunity to witness election time in other places and I have come to realize that politics is a passionate part of who we are as a people, no matter where you come from. Interestingly enough I have been in the United States during a presidential elections, I remember walking around campus during that time, and seeing how passionate my American friends were about the elections in 2004.
However its my experience of living in Nairobi, Kenya during the 2007 Post Election crisis that has had an impact the most on how I view elections now. I see them as lightening points that can set fires of hatred ablaze causing it to spread within a short period of time, if people do not come together in peace and harmony.
And so I confess that I had a lot of concerns before and during the elections, but I kept praying, and I thank God that despite some violence in some places, that Peace ultimately won. And I hope that the change that would truly transform Nigeria will occur with a New Party at the helm of government.