7 Insights from Nigeria’s 2011 Polls


Children at school in Nigeria

Our time is now... (Image via Wikipedia)

So Nigeria has gone to the polls and picked a leader off the options on the market (all flawed, but understandably so – the market’s only emerging). Here are a few observations I made:

  1. Seth Godin has long preached that tribes already exist, they only need someone to lead them (Check out his TED video too). The Nigerian youth, as a group, was a favoured bride in these elections. Many of us picked a leader to rally round: Buhari, Jonathan, Ribadu. So let the notice go out: The youth are awake now, and they’re looking to be led.
  2. I’ve heard friends express frustration with what they deem democracy’s inability to deliver the right leaders. But that was never really its purpose (although it’s highly desirable!). Democracy is a system geared to deliver the people’s choice of leader, and most will agree (to varying degrees) that we achieved that this one time. (Encore, anyone?) The real power of oppression is in taking a people’s voice. The real value of democracy is in restoring human dignity by returning the people’s voice.
  3. The Nigerian youth, as a demographic group, was a sought-after bride in these elections. Not because of our age in itself but because of a new-found power. We had conversations online and on air, Facebook and Twitter; we created and used mobile and web apps; we uploaded figures and photos and videos. Everyone suddenly had to come to terms with the fact that in this age where information is power, we were the most adept at wielding the technology to drive it. Still, how much difference do you think technology really made?
  4. Behind all that technology though, one thing may be easily missed: we fought with words. Aggressively. We spoke to the powers that would be and we talked to one another. I hope we don’t forget that. Will we keep talking? Even more important, will we pass it on to the next generation? (See my earlier post, “If We Care Now, Who Gets the Credit?”)
  5. We fought each other, too. Which was partly a good thing, I think, because you only fight for what you care about. But things often got out of hand and needlessly harsh words were exchanged. I fear some friendships may have altered permanently. Will we, as we move on, learn to focus on issues? What do you think?
  6. And another good thing. A friend asked me last week when I became this interested in politics. I said I’d always been, but just never had any clear avenue to express it. She said, “You never really know people, do you?” I agree. I saw sides of many friends that I never knew existed, and realised again the power of circumstances to reveal us to one another, and even to our own selves. Did you notice that too?
  7. You tell me… Smile

Seriously, the last one (or more) goes to you: what things did you learn about yourself and people in the last few weeks?

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11 thoughts on “7 Insights from Nigeria’s 2011 Polls

    • Sad indeed, and the more because it’s true. But still, looking at it differently, isn’t the problem less with our ethnicity and religion (both intrinsic to our identity), and more with our use of both: to pigeonhole others instead of to understand our world?

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  1. i may not be particularly excited with the recent change in the way things have played out in the past few weeks and even months. What however, excites me is the fact that ONE person can make a lot of change. Something has moved, some form of entropy has occurred. It may not be so vast, but the tides are changing.
    Lots of optimism, but i must say, it’s guarded-optimism.

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    • The power of one. It’s real. And yes, something has moved. The political fault lines have shifted.

      As for “guarded optimism”, that’s probably a good way to deal with what’s happening, so we don’t get carried away. Thank you.

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  2. i am into politics too
    However i did not get to vote for GEJ
    He won anyways and i was very enthusiastic about his winning!
    I did however campiagn or him online and by word of mouth

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  3. i especially noticed that this election period revealed some sides of people they never even knew existed, i’ve seen passion in different levels! and that says we’re not there yet but we’re moving and slowly but surely we’ll get there.

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