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2019: Another Long Walk To Freedom

By Ajogwu Jerry Ochada
Defying the unpleasant weather, Ilebaye walked briskly enroute her polling unit to exercise her civic rights with her baby strapped to her back. As she strolled down the dusty road trying to predict the reactions of Aguba – her husband – who departed the house very early same day for same purpose but cautioned his wife not to go and face the hectic process of casting her vote for any candidate of her choice thereby stressing their one month old baby who is still fragile to undergo a strenuous exercise. 
As she approached her polling unit, her heart skipped a beat but she was resolute thus moulding an emergency response skit in case her husband find her standing on the long queue under the scorching sun. In the midst of her introspection, she received a tap on her shoulder. 
“Yeehmi” (meaning mine in Igala dialect) what are you doing here? Her husband queried her presence sweating profusely after waiting all day to cast his vote. 
“Baba Ugbede” She paused, scanning for the most appropriate words to utilize at this juncture because she can visibly notice the fuming facial expression building up in the mind of her heart throb. 
“I know you warned me not to come here. I’m very sorry but I feel we can all build the Nigeria of our dreams if everybody is allowed to express their franchise. Please forgive me for going against your instructions. This is the first time and I know it won’t happen again because in 2023, Ugbede would have grown to be a big boy and I can leave him at home to come here and vote. Please I’m very sorry”. She ended her defence with a smile which apparently melted the anger of her husband. 
“Yeehmi, unstrap the baby let me wait for you under this tree while you join the queue to cast your votes”. He instructed with a calm tone devoid of anger. 
As Ilebaye made attempt to give her baby to the father, the mild drama had caught the attention of one of ad-hoc staff employed by INEC for the exercise. She directed her to the accreditation point and within a jiffy, she was done casting her vote and reunited with her husband who was standing under a tree for shade. 
They journeyed back home in silence as there was restrictions on vehicular movement hence they trekked under the scorching sun with faces of fulfillment in distress. 
Immediately the couple arrived home, Aguba went directly to the kitchen to dish himself a sumptuous meal because he did not eat his breakfast before leaving home. After munching the first spoon of rice he looked into the eyes of his wife who was sitting close to him sipping a glass of chilled water. 
“Yeehmi, you look very tired. Maybe is because you don’t always trek. Today’s exercise is dual, you exercised your civic right and you exercised your body,”. Ilebaye cuts in with a smile revealing her dazzling dentition, she is a lucid caption of the beauty of an African woman.
“Yeehmi, no doubts I’m very tired but this is another long walk to freedom. I pray our votes count”.
Congratulations Nigerians; good people, great nation but did your votes count? This calls for sober reflections. The long awaited Presidential election has come and gone. We are back to face the reality of good or bad governance anchored on which ever ratings that may suit, however based on grace and perceptions. If we must truly balance the intrigues and final verdict, Nigeria or Nigerians have decided to evolve another pathway for citizens to tread and debate later. The intense hullabaloo and campaign gimmicks is now dead to resurrect maybe in the next two years when we shall all anticipate the outcome of the 2023 elections. Be that as it may, the real politicians are currently building the bridge perhaps for a better Nigeria, where wailing and gnashing of the teeth shall be a topic of dialogue presumed as the bad old days even though it is difficult for any Nigerian living in the country in the present century to comfortably flashback on the good old days; maybe the early days of our nation’s independence before the 2nd Republic. 
We learnt corruption was a major factor that triggered the incursion of the military into the political affairs in Nigeria thereby taking over power to rule via decrees yet 20 years after we embraced and kissed democracy, has anything changed? This is a poser for every sane Nigerian to ponder and divulge because we are all hopeful for a better Nigeria. 
Let me reiterate clearly, political upheaval in Nigeria is not solely a problem of bad leadership, the bulk of the blame should be directed to the electorate who are oppressed by selfish leaders yet they are ever willing to sell their votes because their integrity is humiliated by hunger or personal interest. These group of persons have a price tag and are quick to sell their votes to the highest bidder during the poll. 
It is mind boggling to witness sane people showcasing insanity in a developing political clime where majority of the people are thirsty of good governance. Be that as it may, we are done with the Presidential poll, a major determinant of our country’s fate in the next four years. We are ready to face the reality because it is not a season of blame game or brain drain but another epoch making time to harmonize useful resources for the development of our beloved country.  
The outcome of the last concluded elections is contested in many circles of public opinion but Nigerians should adopt an archaic  thought strategy and peaceful assumption first birthed after the Nigerian Civil War (1967-70). There is no victor, no vanquish.  
What is important for us as country is to join positive forces that will GET NIGERIA WORKING AGAIN especially now that we have arrived the NEXT LEVEL of our political phase. Limitations witnessed during the last dispensation should serve as a lesson which should not repeat itself. For instance, decamping to the ruling party should not be a yardstick or canopy for fraudulent politicians to dine, wine and move freely in the country. Similarly, former political office holders in detention should be accorded equal treatment by respecting the rule of law with regards to court judgement concerning their continuous detention. This is a democratic setting.
The most viable option to propel our beloved country to greater height is the timely formation of a unity government; where aggrieved politicians can bury their differences and work towards the actualization of the dreams of our founding fathers which is to build a united ONE NIGERIA with every political region enjoying the dividends of democracy. 
Leaders should not be self centered, communal interest is positively lenient and this icon should be the activating force of any credible leader even though national interest is an overriding factor. The just concluded elections should not be classified as another shortcoming in recent time because at the end of every contest there must be a winner. It is another long walk to freedom of the mindset in search of good governance however this can be realized when citizens begin to do the needful by shunning the needless. God bless Nigeria. 
Congratulations President Muhammadu Buhari! 
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