Poor leadership is obviously a grave, enduring problem in Nigeria, but an even graver problem, in my opinion, is the country’s docile, acquiescent, and fatalistic citizenry. Most Nigerians are afflicted by a condition anthropologists call cargo cult mentality, that is, the superstitious belief, first recorded among pre-modern tribes in Melanesia, that all the fine things of this world will somehow magically and effortlessly appear because people who desire it wish it into existence.
It’s cargo cult mentality that drives and sustains the forlorn hope that “Atiku is coming” as Nigerians await the verdict of the Presidential Election Tribunal today. The verdict of the tribunal is, as British sports commentator Sid Waddell once said, as predictable as a wasp on speed: the electoral fraud that brought Buhari to power will be affirmed, and the verdict of the tribunal will be upheld by the Supreme Court, which is now an unashamed, remote-controllable extension of the presidency.
Frederick Douglass famously said, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” No one has made any systematic, sustained demand on the Buhari junta after it audaciously stole an election that it clearly lost— and in the face of its infernal ineptitude, which is causing the nation’s smolder to transform into a consuming conflagration. Sowore attempted it, has been clamped in illegal detention, and everyone is carrying on as if nothing happened.
When Buhari refused to sign the electoral bill that would have made on-the-spot, instantaneous electronic transmission of election results mandatory, most people kept quiet, but that was the first pre-election rigging. When he illegally removed the Chief Justice of Nigeria and replaced him with a pliant, know-nothing accomplice, there were no protests from any quarters.
When he rewarded his incompetent and compromised service chiefs with an unprecedentedly illegal extension of their tenures for helping him rig the election before and after the fact, the nation was quiescent. When it came to light, through my social media update, that Buhari rewarded INEC’s Mrs. Amina Zakari by appointing her son as his Special Adviser on Infrastructure for helping him rig the 2019 election, many people pretended it never happened. Several other people who helped perpetrate the worst electoral heist in Nigeria’s democratic history have been handsomely rewarded by Buhari.
In other words, Buhari rigged the election months before it even took place. He rigged it again when it took place. And he rigged it yet again after it took place. That’s multiple rigging of one election. But no one cared. And you think members of the election tribunal will reverse it? Why would they? What’s the incentive to do so in a country that no longer even makes the faintest pretenses to fairness and justice? There is no fear of mass action from any quarters. On the contrary, handsome rewards await them. That’s Buhari’s history: he rewards loyalty, however crooked the loyalty may be, and punishes dissent, however decent the dissent may be.
The entire legal process is already bought and compromised. Save yourself the emotional trauma of having your expectations dashed. Yes, Atiku has a watertight case, but justice is a meaningless concept in Buhari’s Nigeria. Atiku ain’t coming.