Enugu is silent. It is the kind of silence that strikes when news of the death of a close relative or friend filters in. Ndi Enugu was thrown into deep mourning on Wednesday night when, in its curious wisdom, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, handpicked a new governor for the state. The day after, Enugu slid under a disquieting blanket of silence. 042 are shell-shocked. People wear long faces as they move around. No one speaks of the theft of their mandate the previous night. A pain in the heart does not lend itself easily to the soothing reassurance of sharing stories. They are wounded people. A person robbed blind!
Meanwhile, across the boundary at Lokpa Nta, Abia State is abuzz with merriment and laughter. Ndi Abia is celebrating a glorious end to their 24 years in captivity. 24 years in Babylon without a song. For how can they sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? But today, they are singing in their loudest voices. They are celebrating the triumph of the people’s will. They are celebrating the singular most important victory of democracy, the sanctity of the individual vote. For every vote should count in a democracy. And the votes of Ndi Abia had counted in this recent dispensation. So, while Enugu is sniveling from the nosebleed of a most brazen electoral theft in the history of the state, Abia basks in the euphoria of being finally set free from the death-grip of a most hideous political gang that had held the state prostate for two and a half decades. Everywhere you go in Aba and Umuahia, there is ululation and shouts of joy as the people celebrate this rare victory.
Great events in history gain their significance from the way they touch the simple, vulnerable folks. A viral video clip of an ageing female trader on her knees in her shop-front in Aba, praising God for the miracle he had wrought in Abia offers a vignette of the catharsis of escaping a decrepit and bankrupt leadership. Ndi Enugu had hoped and worked for such relief but INEC robbed them of that chance.
So, Enugu is wrapped in disbelief, shock and horror. They have no memory of any time in history when their electoral will was ever so brazenly subverted before their very eyes. They had assumed that they had made no secret of their rejection of the PDP. That they had shown profound disapproval with the party when they threw the party’s candidate out of the church on repeated occasions and that they had overwhelmingly rejected him with their votes at the polls last Saturday. They wonder therefore, who gave INEC the audacity to choose for them?
Indeed, Ndi Enugu is aggrieved that history had repeated itself in a most horrific manner. Barely a fortnight ago, they had turned out in large numbers to vote for the Labour Party Presidential candidate, Mr Peter Obi. But in a most infuriating way imaginable, INEC had performed its appalling wonder and handed victory to Senator Bola Tinubu. Little did they know that even in the simple matter of finally saying “enough” to the PDP in their home state, INEC would still stifle their long-held sneeze? They wonder what hope democracy holds for the people. What promise? What fascination?
The astonishing thing about the “INEC Governor-elect” that has emerged in Enugu is that INEC broke its own rules on the side-lining of BVAS and over-voting to award 16,000 votes to the PDP to kill off the people’s will. It is frustrating to think that after organizing the globally condemned presidential and national assembly elections, INEC still found Enugu a veritable ground to execute its final act of brazen robbery. Electoral robbery is like a toothache; it leaves the head throbbing in paralyzing pain. And that is why Enugu is silent!
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