Even though he was surrounded by the bright orange colour, it was a heart-wrenching sight. He should never have been in the vehicle. He didn’t utter a word, not even a whimper. He looked on, dazed. Those eyes tell a story of despair, of helplessness, of hopelessness, of trauma, of war. When he looked down, like one shy, I lost it- tears streamed down my face. Legs outstretched, in the midst of the chaos around him, he touched his dusty bloodied face. No, it wasn’t because of an accident in school or during a visit to the mall. Minutes earlier, his home had come under a military airstrike.
What did he do to deserve this?
His name is Omran Daqneesh, a 5 year old boy in Aleppo, Syria. While his mates in other parts of the world wake up to the caring touch and sonorous voice of their parents, urging them to prepare for school, Omran wakes up to the horror of blood, rubbles, gunfire, ear-piercing noise, death. While his mates openly play on the park and complain about the taste of the berry, Omran plays in the midst of rubbles, with the sound of gunfire in the background. His innocence, blemished. No, he did not choose this life. He just found himself thrust into it.
But Omran is lucky. There are several thousands of children, his age or even lower, whose lives have been tragically cut short in the Syrian War. Sadly, Omran won’t be the last victim of this war. His 10 year old elder brother died from injuries sustained in the airstrike. Watching Omran sitting helpless in the ambulance, I genuinely wished I could hug and assure him everything would be alright.
Lonely and war-weary in the back of an ambulance, Omran stares helplessly at the world and the world stares back, leaving him at the mercy of the next airstrike.
See the video of his rescue here.
Less than 3 days to the handover date and long after the inks have dried on the ballot papers, the election result is still generating ripples in the polity. The result was really a first in the country- a civilian handover between different political parties. Some supporters of PDP, the losing party, have opined that Muhammadu Buhari’s victory was a conspiracy against the South. More importantly, one against the minority, South-South. The election was seen as a contest between the North and the South. According to them, a contest between the ‘Born-To-Rule‘ & the ‘Neglected‘.
In reality though, the contest was the closest in recent history. Both contestants had almost equal chances. The incumbent president and a former Head of State, Muhammadu Buhari were the major candidates during the election. The campaigns were massive and well-planned. Even though, Muhammadu Buhari had contested in the three previous elections, his chances this time around were attractive.
Permutations before the election had placed the two main candidates on a scale that measured the strength of their support. Nigeria is divided into 6 geopolitical zones- North-West, North-East, North-Central, South-East, South-South & South-West .
The pre-election permutations have predicted Goodluck Jonathan to win in the South-South and South-East while Buhari’s major support came from the North-West and North-East. Jonathan hails from the South-South while Buhari hails from the North-West.
So, my country has concluded its much anticipated elections- hopefully, there’ll be no rerun. Now, our lives will be restored to default settings. The past few months have seen our radios & TVs taken over by campaign jingles & political talks, the social media was on lockdown for campaign (the effectiveness of the social media in determining the electoral activities should be studied)- hashtags were a normal feature on Twitter. In fact, discussions followed the route of politics. Every action of the government was seen through the prism of currying favour from the electorates. Our national life was conditioned in a particular way.
The campaign period highlighted some factors that were absent in previous electoral campaigns. Even before the elections, the use of card readers and PVCs by the electoral umpire (which was a first actually) had caused the heating up of the polity. Concerns were raised on the feasibility and reliability of its use. Also, the campaigns for this election made optimal use of the social media. With the youth comprising the highest number of voters and many of them on the social media, it was commonsense that discourse on these platforms would be political. Twitter was the hardest hit. Hashtags sought to outdo one another. The election really showed the true colours of some. Some turned erstwhile friends to foes and some bridges were burnt. Also, a factor that contributed to the loss of GEJ at the polls stems from the acts of those whose duty it was to make friends for him making enemies instead *side eye to Omokri, Okupe & FFK*.
Like I discussed here, the campaigns were about mudslinging than issues.
So this morning, the Financial Times ran a headline hailing Tinubu as being the brain behind Jonathan’s loss at the polls. They called him the Nigerian Machiavelli. Also, when General Buhari collected his Certificate of Return from INEC affirming his victory, he mentioned Tinubu during his acknowledgement. So, who is this man? A man the opposition (how tables turn!) fears as much as they do Buhari.
He has been hailed as a master strategist.
See ehn, if I don’t write about my experience during this election, posterity will not be pleased. I didn’t plan to write this as I had something different on my mind before but the temptation to share my experience was too much to resist. The political atmosphere before the election was already charged but that isn’t even my point. I’m here to talk about the election itself.
Even if I forget everything about Estaport secondary school, my experience with the game of chess can never be forgotten. It was the first time I heard the term, ‘CHESS’ and played the game. Within a few days, I was hooked. Break time were not to remain the same again. Looking back now, armed with life experience & more knowledge, I can say it was worth it while it lasted. And now, comparisons can be made.
Chess, both in its gameplay & structure, is quite unique (Not every time Call of Duty, sometimes a brain-stimulating game).
Back in secondary school, one extra curricular activity I was always enthused about is the debate. Though I never participated in them because of my coyness, I was usually in the background providing points to the debaters. Something I learnt then was to always attack issues- the topic at hand. Attacking the personality of a fellow debater was a no-go area.
During the campaign for the 2015 elections, lots of events have occurred.
I watched Channels’ Politics Today on January 18 & the guest, a member of President Jonathan’s cabinet veered off the topic of discourse and went on a mudslinging spree. Instead of convincing me why I should vote for his principal by enumerating achievements, he was telling me why I shouldn’t vote for their opponent by painting the opponent bad. Without exaggerating, the man spent 85% of the allotted time slandering the opposition.
Some few days before, all the presidential candidates had signed a peace pact in Abuja. A part of the pact talks about engaging in issue-based campaigns. This shouldn’t have been rocket science as the myriad of problems confronting the nation really deserves explanations. The incumbent is supposed to outline its achievements- its successes after 5 years in office. Yet, it’s this incumbent that goes about attacking the opposition. It’s pertinent to note that this current government enjoyed a large dose of goodwill during the last election. How it squandered that goodwill is baffling to me. Or maybe we have different definitions of what an issue-based campaign entails. The campaign organisation of the PDP has been raising dust in the polity by going after irrelevances- from asking Gen Buhari why his wife isn’t seen in public with him, to them saying he doesn’t know his phone number and that he should jog round a stadium to prove his fitness- as if the rigours of campaigning all over the country isn’t enough stress. When Fashola was going for a second term in 2011, I told a friend that he needn’t spend much on his campaign. It was obvious that he was going to win because his first term was a reference point for good governance in other states. If after spending 5 years in office, what you have going for you is mudslinging, it can only mean one thing.
PDP’s issue-based campaign?