A Nigerian Easter

The last time I attended confession, I was mighty troubled. It’s a miracle that in the midst of all my iniquities, my conscience somehow finds a way to remain alive. So, I was in turmoil over my own deeds and misdeeds, all of which I relayed to the priest through the dusty net at the confessional. I really put it out there…reeling out tapes and tapes of the times I fell, and how hard I tried to get back up, and every time it felt achievable, how I went crashing back down again. I ended by confessing that I had tired of trying; I saw no point in it if every time, I ended up hurting my Creator and disappointing myself.

When I finished, the good ol’ toughie – Monsignors are always the toughest – kept mute for a dozen precious seconds. I wondered if maybe he hadn’t heard me, or maybe my litany of iniquities had lulled him to sleep, or worse, maybe he had never seen that much filth all up in one man.

So there I was, on my knees, brow sweaty in the cold morning air, thinking of how best to escape quietly. Then he coughed. I heard his robes ruffle as he shrugged.

Then he said, “son, try again”.

This time last year, I wrote a six-part series following Christ from his condemnation, to death on the cross, and triumphant resurrection, and I called it ‘The Medallion’ (look HERE for a re-read or a first read).

I have never claimed to be the best Christian – unless in circles where I am the ONLY Christian 🙂 – but I am pretty certain of the fact that Good Friday is not a story of a second chance. Jesus, by bowing to shameful death on a cross, did not give me a second chance at doing good. No, His death gave me the grace of many chances; because of Christ, I shall never suffer the dearth of opportunities to get it right, no matter how many times I err, for as long as I live.

That is the joy of Good Friday, and the glory of Easter.

And THAT is the bane of the victory of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari of APC in the recently concluded presidential elections. Some of the sweetest ones among you readers have asked why WAW was uncharacteristically mute in the middle of all the brouhaha before, during and after the elections. The answers to this will come in a future post, hopefully, but suffice it to say that a major reason was the painful manner in which I was disenfranchised. I still owe Oross that story.

Anyway, I stayed home, laughed my insides raw on social media memes, and drew up Excel tables and charts with voter results. For those who are still unclear about whose side I was on: I did this

mocking laughter

when Kano and Katsina happened; then I did this

high five

…when Buhari scored above 25% in Edo and in any other ‘unlikely’ state.

And when it became clear we had a new president even though Borno was yet to come, I did this…

dance African kid

So…

  • WHY APC, AND NOT PDP?

Tuesday’s victory was more for Nigeria, than any individual or political party. For the first time since we first saw democracy, we proved to the world that we count. More importantly, we proved to ourselves, the political parties and the men in power that we are still capable of democratic unity in the face of adversity, and that in our strongest elements, we are never to be taken for granted again.

I recently followed this sister on twitter, @KingUcheOdoh, and she pretty much summed it up as follows:

“Just so we are clear we didn’t say Buhari is our savior! We just voted out a government we were not satisfied with to give another a chance!”

Dazall!

  • WHY BUHARI, AND NOT JONATHAN?

I cannot tell you that I ‘voted’ the party and not the man – it would be a lie. If anybody says that to you, kindly ask them “if Atiku had won the ticket instead, would you have voted APC still?”

I am Igbo, a proud son of the Nnewi soil and so it came as quite the surprise to a number of Igbo brothers and even non-Igbo friends when I spoke of my support for the Fulani GMB over the Niger-Deltan Ebele.

Simply, I was dissatisfied with the leadership of President Jonathan. Beyond that, as the campaigns progressed, President Goodluck increasingly looked to me like a man who has had his fill of the Villa. The more I watched the news, watched video clips and viewed pictures, I had this nagging feeling that the campaign for reelection was being run more by the people behind the curtains, than by the man who wore the crown himself. Needless to say, the fate of a country in as precarious a situation as ours should not be combined with an unwilling or indecisive leader.

Buhari on the other hand is a man whose integrity and sense of discipline I judge to be well above most other Nigerian politicians’. Even the opposition with all their technological and pecuniary clout was unable to find any mud to sling at it. All I heard was talk about the General’s tribalistic tendencies and religious extremism. My views on tribalism and religion, especially in the context of government, are not secret. Suffice it to say that I’d rather not lend the matter any credence seeing as it deserves none. For my thoughts in detail, read “A Debt That Must Be Paid” and “The Nigerian State and Religion I and II

Many of the ‘Change’-opposers are genuinely afraid; while I do not dismiss the fears as baseless, I believe that as enlightened a country as we are, as diverse as we are and in a democratic dispensation, it will be difficult for one man or one religion to hold us to ransom.

I do not expect miracles from General Muhammadu Buhari; all I expect is that he acknowledges the sacrifice and immense trust of Nigerians, in actions, in Aso Rock. By merely assuming an uncompromising stance of incorruptibility, equity, fairness and justice, the General would have done most of the job required of the office he will resume at in May.

  • WHY 2015, AND NOT 2019?

Yes, I heard this argument as well. President Jonathan deserved a second four-year tenure, they said, so he could either prove or disprove our distrust. My answers?

Because as the president himself said while contesting in 2011, anything that cannot be done by a government in four years cannot be done by that same government, even in ten years.

Because I’d rather run a preventive marathon, than a corrective one.

Because maybe it’s too late already, and we may not even know it.

Because like Christians have at Easter, we have the grace of many other chances, not just one chance. If the new government fails, we will vote them out come 2019.

And because for the next four years, I’d rather have as my First Lady, this woman

Buhari wife

than this woman

11082544_10155371763255514_8708964379917998631_n

In the form of a new government and a ‘new’ country, this Easter is a gift to Nigeria…a Nigerian Easter.

Happy Good Friday, lovers…and a Merry Easter ahead!

Chisom

I WILL VOTE

vote

It’s yesterday and I am going to get my PVC today.

Walk in quietly, greet the two ladies and the man in the office with a smile, “I want to get my PVC.”

“Where’s your temporary?”

I hand it over, take the only other available seat and proceed to dig into my phone.

Man shuffles through the stacks and stacks of plastic cards…once, twice. I am counting, spying from beneath lowered eyelids. When he starts a third time, I just know. Even before he says the words, I know…

“Oga, you no get card oh”

“Huh?”

“Your own no dey here,” he says.

Disappointment. First at myself because I have just realized that I expected to be told just that. And at INEC for proving my distrust well-founded.

“Okay,” I stay seated, looking with what I believe is a deadpan expression from one INEC face to the other. “So…” I try, “what’s going to happen now?”

Madam seated at the table seems surprised by my calmness; I can’t quite define the look on her face as surprise…I don’t know what it is but it makes me feel good…proud-good.

“Errr…oya bring his card.” She takes the laminated TVC from perplexed INEC guy and begins to write on an A4 sheet.

I am itching to see what it is she is writing, but I tamp down the urge. I sit still, harassing the touch-screen of my now battery-dead phone.

“Here.”

I stand, slip a lazy foot into one slip-on and take my outstretched TVC.

“Come back in three weeks for your card,” she says with a smile.

Jega postponed for six weeks so three weeks is ample time, I quickly calculate. “Okay thanks.”

I blast one grin at the trio and shuffle out in slow deliberate steps. I caught a glimpse of the A4; she’d written down the details – name, number, address, et al – from my TVC.

I know I’ll feel better coming for my PVC in three weeks than I did coming today.

Chisom

…if we have a country

thinking man

Dear Suzzy,

Contrition overwhelms me as I pen these words. I am ashamed of myself because I lied to you and made a promise I knew would be hard to keep. On a second thought, I forgive myself because you pushed me. You pushed me when you kissed me the other night and made me promise to take you to Nigeria on Valentine’s Day.

I must have been hypnotized by that kiss or the food we ate afterwards.  I am certain that I wouldn’t have made such a weighty promise if I was in control of my senses.

I hate to disappoint you my dear but we have to cancel the arrangement. We cannot spend Valentine day in Nigeria because my country will be at war on that day.

I know how eager you are to visit Africa and Nigeria. I know how much you look forward to meeting the nice people and seeing the beautiful places you have read and heard about. But your curiosity can wait another year my dear.

If you don’t want to have Valentine memories tainted in tears and blood then we should remain here and cuddle on that day. With the super-fast internet at our disposal, we can watch the madness in my country from a distance. Our love is young and sweet but I fear it will never be the same if I take you home this Valentine.

Suzzy my dear, you are probably wondering why I am so scared when all that is happening is just an election to decide who will be president of my country. But you won’t understand. You have lived in these peaceful climes for too long and you think elections in other parts of the world are the same with what you have here.

But you are wrong my dear. In my own part of the world, elections are like war. We go to the polls afraid of what will happen when the results are announced. However it turns out, tears, blood and wanton destruction of property are normal features of elections in Nigeria.

You ask why it is like that?  It is because politics in my country smacks of desperation. Those who hold power sit tight even when they have performed below expectations and those who want it will throw everything including the kitchen sink to actualize their ambitions.

My dear Suzzy, we can’t make this visit to Nigeria because the forthcoming elections may be bloody. Everyone is afraid the country may go up in flames regardless of the outcome.

Have you forgotten what my friends in Berlin said when we visited for Christmas? I mean, you saw the trepidation in Timi’s eyes when he told us his parents were planning to relocate temporarily from their home in the Kaduna because they fear a riot might start when the results are announced.

Joe my friend in Lagos, said some people were already planning to go to Ghana, Republic of Benin and other neighboring countries during the election. That’s what happens every time we go to the polls in my country. Those who have the means run away until the madness abates. The poor and innocent ones are always at the short end of the stick. Some die. Others lose their homes and means of livelihood while another group of survivors will spend the rest of their lives nursing physical and emotional wounds that will never heal.

Suzzy, do you know what is really annoying this time?  We are to choose between two men who probably don’t deserve to be president of any country in the world.

Unlike your own country where you have to choose from a pool of brilliant minds, with enviable track records, election in my country is based strictly on ethnic and religious sentiments.

My dear, do you know how difficult it is to choose between an incumbent president who has failed in many areas and a 72-year old retired General with a questionable past?  Joe says it is like standing between the devil and the deep blue sea.

You know another annoying thing as we prepare for this election? It is the fact that no one is asking the fundamental questions. On Facebook, Twitter and other social media platform, the re-packaged General is portrayed as our knight in shining amour.  To his teeming supporters, it is a sacrilege to express contrary opinions about him.

They sound as if this man who overthrew a democratic president some 32 years ago has the magic pills to cure all that ails Nigeria the moment he becomes president. As though voting for him will instantly mark the end of the epileptic power supply, equip hospitals without drugs, revamp universities of shallow knowledge, fix blood sucking expressways and better the lives of millions of impoverished citizens in one day.

As for the incumbent President, the cookies are crumbling around him with every passing day. They say he is weak and inept to rule a complex country like Nigeria and he is not doing much to change that opinion.

You know what is most funny about his re-election campaign? His followers compare him to Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela, Lee Kuan Yew and other famous leaders and then urge us to give him more time to transform our country.

So Suzzy, do you see why we can’t go to Nigeria for Valentine this year? Let’s just watch from here and pray God and the angels protect our loved ones who can’t get out of the country.

I know how disappointed you feel right now but I promise you in the name of our love that we will spend the next Valentine in Nigeria…if we have a country after 2015.

With love, now and forever

Veen

Vincent Nzemeke is a Nigerian currently studying in Germany