What happened yesterday was even worse than what I had imagined would happen. I’m still recovering from the shock.
Here in Nigeria, the presidential elections were held yesterday, and like most people predicted, there was a serious display of terror and violence.
I knew this would happen, though. Everyone here knew that that terrorist who’s presently gallivanting around the country, calling himself the president wouldn’t go down without a fight — a fight that nearly cost the life of some of my friends and relatives yesterday.
A fight that cost the life of a nineteen-year-old university student and several others yesterday.
I shouldn’t really be surprised since I knew full well that blood would spill yesterday; I knew that violence would erupt in many parts of the country. I just didn’t know that this use of violence would be targeted at a particular set of people — the Igbo people. My tribe.
The violence my people saw yesterday reminded me of the dark ages: that time during the Nigerian-Biafran war when we Igbos were segregated from the other tribes of the country, treated like vermin, chased back to our hometowns, and massacred there by the Nigerian soldiers.
I hadn’t been born that time, so I was fortunate enough not to witness that painful era. Oh, but my grandma and uncle witnessed it. Their stories and the historical novels I’ve read have given me a glimpse of how much we suffered back then.
We were reminded of this suffering and discrimination yesterday when a majority of us Igbos weren’t allowed to vote. Some of us who protested against this unfair treatment were battered, stoned, and heavily wounded with sharp objects. Some were even gunned down when a fight broke out.
Of the ones who were lucky enough to vote, some had their ballot papers burnt by some thugs who represented the present ruling party.
(This unfair treatment towards the Igbos mostly happened in the polling units in the southern states where the Yorubas chiefly reside. It happened in some Northern states, too.)
The Yorubas (well, most of them) tried to silence us because they were scared that if we Igbos take an action with one accord and speak with one voice, we would surely make a difference and a positive change in the country’s affairs. They were scared that our votes would put them on the spot, and so they tried to stop us from voting, thinking it would make us feel disorientated.
But what happened yesterday only made us Igbos stronger as a tribe.
Throughout last night, my family and I kept phoning some of our relatives who reside where the violence was at its hottest. We were happy to know that they are all right, but their complaints about hearing gun shots and frightening screams still made us feel uneasy.
A polling unit was just opposite my house, and a fight broke out there yesterday afternoon. Even though it wasn’t as serious as the ones I’ve just narrated, it was just as terrible.
You know what vexes me the most? It’s that the media (television and radio) are covering everything up! They keep saying that yesterday’s election was free and fair, and that it was the best that Nigeria has ever held. It makes me want to pull the newscasters by their ears and pull out all their hair!
It’s only social media that’s telling the truth. As everyone is sharing their experiences on social media, as everyone is informing others of what’s happening in their environment, we are all aware of what’s going on in different parts of the country. We are all aware of how divided we are as a people.
I’m just sad and worried right now. I’m worried about what would happen when the results of the elections are announced tomorrow or the day after. If the southerners and northerners aren’t happy with the results, will there be a bloodbath? Will they take out their anger on us again? Will we be attacked?
How long will we keep treading this path of disunity?
Which way, Nigeria? Which way?