Monday, March 28, 2011

Nigeria Decides

I am a sworn apolitical being. I may have voted only once in my life. And the fact that I don't remember when it was or who it was that I voted for should tell you much about my conviction in the strength of my vote. By the time I was eighteen, the first major election in the country had already taken place. The next one took place while my University was on a forced prolonged strike. If I'm asked to guess, the only one I could have voted in was 2007, and still memory fails me.

It is 2011 again and I am far away from home. There is no chance in heaven that I will be able to vote, or that my vote will count. My friends however have all gone gaga pitching tents with many of the declared candidates. Some have become non-paid volunteers, some have become campaign managers, and some have become pundits and sideline commentators. I'm still involved, no matter what I think. I can not be totally aloof. Two days ago, one other friend sent me an offline message saying "You must vote for Buhari." Never mind that I am thousands of miles away from the scene of action.

Like all political processes, this election is about rhetoric as much as it is about change. Everyday, on twitter and Facebook, I watch as each of the candidates and their strategist joust with words, might, and ideas. It doesn't make me any more political than I already am, but if fills me with a certain kind of (albeit wary) joy. The reason I could provide for not having been able to vote in any of the elections conducted so far is the very precarious state the country turns into on election day: thugs, weapons, and blatant rigging. We will have less of that this time, everyone says. People have become more conscious. We hope so.

I do not believe that any one of the candidates will bring a sudden transformation of the country, however. The transformation needed for the country is already taking place in the very active involvement of people in the choice of their leaders, especially if it also continues long after the new president has been sworn in. The change we want may already be here.

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