Whatever the circumstances, Nigerians should vote wisely, writes Sonnie Ekwowusi

I guess by now it has dawned on all including the most unrepentant cynics that there are real concealed conspiracies to rig the 2019 elections especially the Presidential election. So gird your loin. You must brace up now to confront the monstrous tyrants charging at you and forcing you to surrender your soul. You must say No to them. You must tell them that your soul is more precious to you and therefore cannot be surrendered to tyrants. Those who cannot say No are cowards. They have killed our parents, siblings, town folks, uncles, aunts, relatives and friends. They have humiliated us. They have forcefully confiscated our farmlands. They have rendered our judiciary impotent. They have enslaved us; we are perpetual hewers of their wood. We are under the iron grips of their dictatorship.

Despite public outcry they are murdering our parents, siblings, town folks, uncles, aunts, relatives and friends. They have flung open our borders to enable their brothers – murderers from Mali, Niger, Libya and others to infiltrate Nigeria and cause mayhem. They have forcibly abducted our girls. Leah Sharibu, daughter of Zion, voice of the voiceless, symbol of religious liberty is still missing. Has she been guillotined? Has she been forcibly given away in “marriage”?

What haven’t they done to us? They have robbed us of our humanity. Yet you continue to seek refuge in the cold comfort of your religious and tribal cleavages and cocoons as if they were safe harbours. Don’t you understand that there are no safe harbours anywhere? So get up from your passivity and act. These are times that try men’s souls. No matter what they try to do next, you must not grow weary. Whether they choose to postpone the elections to 2020 or so, you must not surrender. Beyond gossiping and grumbling ad nuaseam on Facebook and on WhatsApp platforms it is high time you stood up and be counted. Do the best you can no matter how small. Evil thrives when good men or armchair critics sit back and do nothing. I know you are praying for Nigeria. I know you are fasting that ruin may not overtake our fatherland. But God wants to use you as an instrument to bring about the much-desired change in Nigeria. In history God has always used several persons like you and I as his instruments to achieve his purpose on earth. First, give up your wishful thinking. Begin by casting your vote on Saturday February 23 or any subsequent dates they want the elections to hold. Additionally, if you are endowed with oratorical powers you must begin in earnest to talk truth to power. If you are a writer may your pen never run dry. If you are a candle lighter lit up the streets and alleyways with your candles. If you are a musician sing your melodious songs aloud to soothe the broken-hearted. What you and I cannot do is to stay aloof at this last hour.

If we have done the best we can and they still proceed to rig the 2019 elections we would instantly suspend all activities and troupe out en masse into the streets in peaceful demonstration. Do not say, “I am APC, therefore I cannot join the peaceful demonstration”, or, “I am PDP, therefore I cannot join the peaceful demonstration,” or “I am a Muslim, therefore I disagree with you” or, “I am a Christian and therefore I disagree with you”. Don’t deceive yourself into thinking that with the passage of time the killings and barbarism would abate. They will not.

Outsiders shudder that despite Nigeria’s abundant human talents the country is ruled by functional illiterates and confusionists. Yesterday I ran into a young man in one of the busy streets of New York. Given his somewhat Nigerian accent I initially thought he was a Nigerian-American. But mid way in our conversation he simply introduced himself as an American. This young American traces the Nigerian woes to the failure of political followership. I cannot agree less. As I have repeatedly re-echoed here, Nigerian political leadership crisis is engendered and foisted by the lingering political followership crisis. There is a correlation between political leadership and political followership. Political leadership is a co-efficient of political followership. In common parlance, it is said that a people get the kind of leaders they deserve, meaning that an irresponsible political followership begets an irresponsible political leadership. Perhaps this explains why most outsiders blame Nigerians (not the political leaders) for the woes that have befallen the country. The Nigerian people are the architects of their own failure. Higher education seems not to be helping us. It is probably only in Nigeria that a man who calls himself a university Law Professor and a senior lawyer for that matter would be reasoning like an idiot. You will agree with me that it is high time the governed rediscovered who they are. They should assert their sovereignty in our constitutional democracy. This is the only way the crisis of political followership in which the people are currently enmeshed can be resolved in favour of the people.