Remembering with Sadness, the Ides of March 28

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BY Jude Ndukwe

Sometime in March of the year 44 BC, Julius Caesar of the Roman Republic was viciously murdered by about 60 high ranking politicians among whom was Caesar’s close associate Marcus Junius Brutus. The assassination of Caesar then led to a civil war in Rome that saw to the rise of Caesar’s adopted son Octavius who eventually ruled Rome under the name Caesar Augustus.

Prior to his assassination which also automatically saw to the end of the Roman Republic and gave birth to the Roman Empire, Caesar’s doctors, friends and his wife, Calpurnia, had warned him of going to the Senate that day which was the venue his would-be assassins had marked for his death. They vehemently resisted his attempt to go out on the day warning him of the Ides of March. But one of the conspirators, Brutus (not Marcus), had urged Caesar to ignore the warnings and omens and proceed with him to the senate. There, Julius Caesar was stabbed to death, and there came the end of the Roman Republic.

Fast forward to the months preceding the March 28, 2015, presidential election, Nigerians were vigorously warned not to fall to the tragedy of the Ides of March. That tragedy would be to vote for the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the polls. The citizens were reminded that, just as the faces of Caesar’s murderers appeared friendly, there was gall in their hearts, and they had nothing to offer Nigerians except, tears, sorrow and blood, the type that effectively ended the Roman Republic after the death of Caesar.
But, just like Brutus deceived the king and urged him to go to the venue marked for his assassination, some chieftains of APC and followers confused Nigerians with sugar-coated tongues and bogus promises, while severely castigating those warning Nigerians that APC’s “Change” mantra was a farce, and they eventually had their way.

Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, Director of Media and Publicity, PDP Campaign Organisation, among others, played the roles of Caesar’s doctors, friends and wife by standing vigorously in the way of Nigerians’ unrepentant drive to committing an electoral error despite the huge risks involved in doing that. They were called all manner of names and dubbed “enemies of progress”. But, today with the benefits of hindsight, these people, just like Calpurnia, Caesar’s wife, seemed to have seen tomorrow in their dreams yesterday.

The mistake of Brutus was made; Nigerians “voted” in President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired army General, whose first coming as a military dictator gave us nothing but tears, blood and sorrow, in the March 28, 2015, election. Just like the Roman Republic, that mistake has dealt a severe blow to democratic civility, norms and practices in our nation. People are suffering, fellow citizens are dying of hunger while some are being killed by state agents. Those who escape being killed like IPOB members and Shiite Muslims are hounded and incarcerated incommunicado for as long as it pleases the Chief Tenant of Aso Rock and his men just like in the case of Hon Akanni Afolabi of the Ekiti State House of Assembly who was held against a court order for eighteen good days without any charge or crime against him.

Terrorists are on the prowl under the guise of herdsmen; value of naira keeps depreciating, prices of foodstuff keeps rising, fuel has become perennially scarce, darkness pervades the land so bad it is now measured in megawatts!
Since the error of the Ides of March 28, 2015, Nigeria has fallen into the disgraceful level of not being able to conduct any election peacefully, freely and fairly. The same process that brought Buhari in is now under severe threat that elections are hardly concluded at the first shot. There must almost always be a re-run. It has become so bad that there are even re-runs of re-runs. It has never been this disastrous!

This is apart from the fact that our elections are now so badly militarized that even the Chief of Army Staff had to be present in the last re-reun in Rivers State while Hon Rotimi Amaechi, the Minister of Transportation, and Dakuku Peterside, APC governorship candidate in the last gubernatorial election and now DG of NIMASA, were moving about in Rivers State on election day with a retinue of gun wielding soldiers.
Many innocent Nigerians including a member of the Youth Corps who served as an ad hoc staff of INEC were killed before and during the Rivers State election re-run. It was the same story during the December 5 gubernatorial election in Bayelsa State and else where.

No doubt, these events and the very ugly situation the country has found herself, coupled with outright denial of campaign promises by the ruling party, those who saw tomorrow and warned Nigerians against voting for Buhari and APC have been justified. The worst Nigerians owe these people is an apology for not heeding their advice.
With what is happening today, Nigerians are now wishing that March 28, 2015, never came, or that they never made the mistake of voting for Buhari and APC.
With subsequent elections that have followed since then, and with PDP winning almost all with landslide margins: from Taraba to Abia, Bayelsa, Rivers, Benue, Kogi Central Senatorial District etc, the message of Nigerians to APC is clear: “ we regret voting for you”!
––jrndukwe@yahoo.co.uk; Twitter: @stjudendukwe