Posted by News Express | 8 March 2023 | 513 times
In rural Africa, the market square is not just a place of commerce and business. It also serves as a melting pot for the young and old; natives and strangers; humans and spirits. The townhall is usually located within its precincts. So is the arena for wrestling competitions and the yearly cultural festival. Overall, the market place is a beehive of activities, especially on designated market days.
Natives are well known to one another. Strangers are easily recognized. In Africa, the market grounds are sacred for their spiritual significance.
It is said that when a mad person ventures into the market square, his insanity becomes incurable. It is forbidden to steal in the market. That would be a violation of an important
ancestral domain. When a thief is caught and paraded across the market, often with the stolen item on his neck, it is considered the ultimate humiliation. In the end, such an offender is either beaten to death or ostracized, while the stolen items are returned to the victims.
It is also believed that a karmic curse follows market thieves and their descendants. The stigma is intergenerational.
Such is the high price of staging a heist in the African market place.
The presidential election that took place in Nigeria on February25, 2023, is a “market place robbery” of the worst kind. Like market robbers, the electoral officers are brisk and brazen. They rob with impunity and steal votes without regard for trail or camouflage. But daylight robbers in a crowded market are easily identifiable. So are the compromised INEC officials at all levels.
When the umpire sides with a contestant, the election ceases to be a contest. Democracy is ambushed. Citizens are disenfranchised. Candidates are outraged. The system feels raped. It never ends well.
When robbery happens in the market place, everybody is a witness. Escape is difficult. Exit routes are well known. The direction of the fleeing criminals is marked.
In the case of INEC staff, it is nearly impossible to absolve them of culpability. Forensic audit trail and digital footprints technology, may be deployed to fish out the perpetrators. The youths of Nigeria predominantly belong to the Millennials and GenZ generations. They command an overwhelming majority in the demographics. They are digitally savvy and seldom forgive or forget. They are more impatient and less compassionate.
The enemies have messed with the wrong generation.
When robbery is staged in the market square, there is little space for carting away sizeable loot. Bits and pieces are often littered along the escape path.
In a keenly contested election, the umpire chooses to blur the guidelines and break its rules. Cancelled figures and blotted sheets are ubiquitous. Evidence of widespread fraud abound. There is no time to do a tidy job.
When robbery takes place in the market arena, it attracts negative publicity as well as condemnation, from neighbours and natives from far and near. The shameless heist staged by INEC ignited public outrage in Nigeria and outright reproach from international observers. The enemies of democracy are not region or religion; not tribe or tongue; not Islam or Christianity. Just like the market robbers, the enemies are a tiny clique of oligarchs and politicians who prey on the State to stay insanely rich and immensely powerful.
When an entire market is robbed, the village suffers economic devastation. Big cash and other valuables are lost. A country on life support like Nigeria may not recover from the torture and trauma of the last elections. Power acquired through a stolen mandate will never be used for the common good. It always ends badly.
When robbery is orchestrated in the market space, the villagers feel raped and ancestral grounds are violated. Emotions run high. Anger gives way to rage. Rage finds vent in protests. Protests crystallize into mob action. This is why the robbers are gruesomely executed, when they are caught. After last weekend’s electoral rape, there is palpable anger in the land. The people’s will is subverted and their mandate stolen. First time voters are exposed to the iniquity of electoral fraud. Fragile minds lose their innocence. By force of spontaneity, some head for the streets. But old wisdom prevails. Danger lurks in the corner. Anarchy looms. Surreptitiously, the enemy has prepared for another massacre, worse than any we have ever seen.
When the village chief is part of the robbery plot, and the gang leader is his heir apparent, appeal seems futile. While villagers mourn their losses in private anguish, they can hear the muffled sounds of solitary celebrations at the chief's residence.
In their hearts, they rain curses on the robbers and their powerful enabler. They can't wait for the day when the gods will take vengeance on their behalf.
In the meantime, some villagers surround the palatial home of the crime boss. They chant war songs. They demand the surrender of the robbers and their stolen merchandise. They threaten to burn the house with its occupants. They affirm that only truth and justice can avert a looming catastrophe.
A profound Buddha quote says that:
Three things that cannot be long hidden are the SUN, the MOON and the TRUTH.
INEC insists that the last elections are free and fair. The majority of the citizens think otherwise. The international community expresses deep reservations. Only TRUTH when it is eventually revealed, may resolve this quagmire.
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