What is the price of a million dreams shattered or of hopes dashed by the dastardly acts of those whose desperation turned them into desperados on election day? 

Where lies the moral impetus or imperative for those who jettisoned all norms of decency and trampled on the fundamental rights of others in their quest to achieve their inordinate ambition to enforce any laws thereafter?

What message do we pass to our young ones when we deploy all manner of deplorables, including shooting at innocent people simply trying to exercise their fundamental right of franchise, snatching or burning election equipment and ballot boxes in broad daylight, visiting violence on innocents, threatening harm against people who refuse to vote a certain way, or inducing officials to rig and to alter results?

What message do we send to our young ones when institutions that are supposed to be independent and neutral become immersed in abnormal and illegitimate processes designed to skew the process and thwart the will of the people, without recourse to law or fairplay?

What message do we send to our young ones when security operatives who are supposed to protect us and enforce the rule of law become private mercenaries bent on flouting the law or looking the other way when laws are broken and when people are put in harm's way simply because they want to vote in a general election?

And what manner of people will be so afflicted by tribalistic myopia and dementia that their conscience becomes dead to decency, truth and justice when what we need is patriotism? 

What message do we send to the rest of the world when the giant of Africa continues to miss every opportunity to set a good example for the continent and continually demarkets itself and its citizens in the diaspora, on the global stage, and in the comity of nations?

And what do we say to those who stood in line for 12 hours or more, those who braved rain and other dangers, those who slept at polling units, and those who were wounded and harassed, all in a bid to exercise their right to choose their next leader -- believing that INEC would adhere to its own rules and that their votes will count?

And what was the essence of spending over N300 billion ($500 million USD) of money we can hardly afford to purchase the finest electronic equipment designed to checkmate human error and manipulation of results when the whole process ultimately devolved into manual transmission of results days later in most cases?

How do we discourage our youths from thuggery, grand theft, cheating and violence when, through our collective actions as adults, we have just demonstrated that those ideals do not matter?

What justification do we still have to call this a democracy (instead of a kleptocracy or thugocracy) when it is clearly no longer a government of the people, by the people and for the people?

How do we create a civilised and an upright society when we have no qualms crowning and celebrating brigandage, cheating, cutting corners, and using intimidation and bribery to achieve our selfish ambitions?

What consolation do we offer to those who have endured hunger, deprivation and, in some cases, loss of a loved one because of naira scarcity touted as the panacea to election rigging, when this last election was far worse than most previous ones in Nigerian history?

So I wept. I still weep. And I will continue to weep for my beloved Nigeria because I know the damage we have done to ourselves will take a long time to heal -- if it ever does.

By Dr. John Osonwa
(Climate Change & Environmental Expert; Good Governance & Rule of Law Crusader)

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