Someone said a politician is a dealer in hope. By that it is meant that a typical politician carries on with so much confidence of victory in the elections such that his/her supporters are almost driven to believe that they have won the battle before the ballot is cast. That explains why it is impolitic to say ‘if I am elected’ but to say ‘when I am elected’. A lot of such is playing out this election season here in Nigeria. But as everyone knows, there will be more losers than winners in the elections which start less than two weeks away. So are people preparing for electoral losses? I can almost hear someone say ‘it is not my portion’.
Whether we accept it or not, there will be losers in the elections. And it could be anyone. The contestants know that fact, despite sometimes trying out some braggadocio acts when the result is out. Too often, they mellow after the initial ‘gra-gra’ and even end up partnering with the eventual winner to ‘move the state forward’, if not to push their personal interests and recover from their financial losses. That’s why the private closets of many a politician has enough mementoes of different political parties to be dusted up for use as the occasion demands.
But that is one secret many of them don’t let their supporters know. And if the supporters know, it hardly reflects in their quality of support or limit how far they go in supporting their principals. I have observed from a vantage position the sourness in the heart of many supporters of politicians when such politicians eventually did not get their party tickets and never bothered to try their luck in alternative parties or did and lost. In one case a gubernatorial hopeful complained of being cheated out of the contest. He threatened everything and made his supporters believe he was on the way to another political party to achieve his aspiration. After a few weeks, he sneaked back to the hierarchy of the old party and pledged allegiance, leaving his supporters in the lurch. Some openly cursed the politician for ‘using’ them. Truth is the politicians are adept at ‘using’ people and in the process setting the ‘ordinary’ people against one other and taking advantage of them.
It is therefore to those supporters that we should advise to look beyond the elections to see where they will be in the picture and what would be left of their personal relationships with their fellow ‘ordinary’ citizens. This season has certainly brought out the beast in many citizens, fighting their otherwise closest relations and friends. This builds up to anger and bitterness which escape through hate messages, malice keeping and hatred just because friends, neighbours, classmates, co-workers, religious brethren and families support different political parties and candidates.
And this is where many of us find this particular electoral season very dehydrating and energy sapping, seeing as compatriots so easily build high walls of distrust and go for each other’s jugular. It is indeed scary. The volume of venom circulating on the cyberspace is enough to annihilate a country and one only hopes this is not eventually manifested in the physical realm. We need to stem or reverse this tide and urgently too. We need to advise citizens to not only plan electoral victory but prepare for electoral loss or defeat, which is a natural possibility in any contest. After all, 13 of the 14 presidential candidates will lose and their supporters, who could be anyone should brace up to that.
One way of preparing for electoral loss is to acknowledge that the eventual winner is going to be a fellow Nigerian, nothing more. Why then must we split hairs over who wins? Why would right-thinking citizens want to wake up the day after the elections to not being able to have an honest and open conversation with their long-time neighbour or even members of the same faith, just because they supported different candidates in the elections? Truth be told, the candidates in the election do not even have personal knowledge of and could not be bothered with the identities of the supporters who are willing to put their lives on the line for them. As many supporters as get bloodied physically or traumatised even on cyberspace altercations are left to sulk and remain mere statistics, at best. Even those who get killed ‘die wrongfully’, in the lyrics of the late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.
The lessons of 2011 are still fresh in our memories. Only last week, a television station ran a news report showing that many of the victims of the 2011 post-election violence were yet to be compensated as promised by government. But some others were compensated. Has anyone wondered who the lucky ones were? It would most certainly be the elite, who lost some of their luxury goods. And certainly not one of the poor, anonymous fellows who were in the thick of the fight; spewing their anger all over the place. The moral of that report is that when the chips are down, the foot soldiers get sacrificed to serve the selfish interest of the ruling class.
It is safe therefore to advise everyone going into the elections to prepare for a ‘plan B’, which is defeat, just in case things don’t go their ways. After all, no matter the result, we all share one thing in common, the country Nigeria, which we must preserve.
Published on February 1, 2015 in The Niche newspaper http://www.thenicheng.com/preparing-electoral-loss/